Alex MacMurchie, Director of Strategic Accounts, Rand Secure Data, says:

When I was growing up my brother used to lord around the house saying that gravity was not just a great idea but in fact the law. Perhaps that same principle could apply to data governance: Data governance is not just a great idea, but in fact governed by state, provincial, country and or industry specific regulations and laws. The laws of gravity had no problem catching on – why doesn’t data governance have more teeth?

Over the last few years, companies have talked about the importance of data governance. In 2013, Rand Secure Data conducted a Data Governance Survey and found that 60% of companies believe that data governance is extremely important. Yet, 44% of respondents don’t have a data governance policy (that number increases to 71% when you look at companies that don’t think data governance is extremely important). Where’s the disconnect? Adoption rates have been incredibly slow, in spite of the fact that anticipated budgets for data governance solutions in the next year are between $200,000 and $500,000.

Why aren’t we seeing a flurry of companies sinking their teeth into strong data governance programs? Here are four observations, based on our experience with various clients:

  1. Data governance isn’t just a technical problem.Technology is one part of the solution, but policies and processes must first be established. Unfortunately, reaching consensus about what those policies and processes should be can be difficult.
  2. Data governance is an interdepartmental initiative.By its nature, data governance affects many departments, ranging from HR to legal, IT, and more. Employees usually aren’t incented to take responsibility for what goes on outside their department. As a result, companies can’t expect employees to volunteer for making data governance a success across the enterprise.
  3. Organizations recognize that data governance is important, but they don’t understand in more concrete terms how a data governance initiative will deliver value. As a result, data governance remains some abstract concept and no one is willing to become its champion. Data governance can increase the value of information assets by helping firms identify new business opportunities. It can also reduce costs by decreasing duplicate data, avoid the cost of penalties associated with non-compliance, and increase the confidence in decisions based on data.
  4. It must be clear who is responsible for making data governance a reality. In our experience, data governance initiatives are most successful when one individual takes responsibility for driving the process and is empowered to coordinate efforts throughout the organization. However, other approaches can work. The Data Governance Institutehas found that a Data Governance Council, in conjunction with tactical teams, is effective in some organizations.

If an organization succumbs to even one of these pitfalls, progress towards data governance can grind to a halt.


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