What does the dictionary tell us about governance ?
- Government; exercise of authority; control.
- A method or system of government or management.
This definition applies equally to the governance of peoples, companies and computer data.
Indeed with the advent of Big Data, companies are aware of the important possibilities of valuing internal and/or external data. However, the diversity of data, the constant growth of volumetry and the multiplicity of uses impose on businesses the establishment of a rigorous management system for their information assets.
This need for rigor is amplified by the increasing number of reglementary constraints, in particular by the new General Regulation on Data Protection which already gives many nightmares to businesses in Europe and beyond. Because large, small and medium-sized enterprises must know their data extremely well in order to be able to apply the rules of the GDPR.
What is Data Governance, exactly ?
Data governance is an organizational system designed to take advantage of the « data » capital. In practical terms, data governance is based on five pillars :
- the rules : definition and evolution of policies
- the organization : definition of roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders
- the finance : cost management, value and asset management
- the control : establishment of mechanisms to ensure that the defined rules are applied
- the risks : evaluate and manage data risks: theft, loss…
This is a strategy that every organization needs to put in place from the moment they possess data, if they want to leverage that potential to grow their business/develop their customer base. More than a technology - even if one or more tools are needed to implement the chosen strategy - it is above all a thought process that takes into account all aspects (practical, technical, ethical, legal).
While never losing sight of the primary goal : to transform information into value.
This need may not be new but the advent of Big Data has precipitated its increased use. In reality, if in the past companies could just rely on the necessary information about their customers to serve them, these days the more data you have on your customers, the better you can anticipate their desires (personalized offers, service upgrades, etc.).
The rules of data governance
Let's discuss here the first pillar in 3 points. These points are identical for all forms of governance (of peoples, companies, associations, etc.) and intervene on a strategic, tactical and operational level. When information is concerned, this implies to :
- Define the rules : this point reflects the organization's vision for managing data and starts with the understanding of the existing (through reverse engineering), while including external rules that have an impact on the organization (ISO, GDPR...). It is also at this level that responsibilities must be established (the role of the CDO, the DPO, etc.) and that the levels of data protection must be defined (in order to avoid loss or breach). The quality of the data is also a constant never to be taken lightly (and what of the validation ?).
- Respect the rules : for example, you must define the data access rights and of course ensure that the rules implemented at the first point are correctly applied. Stakeholders within the organization need to be able to use the data according to their needs while continuing to allow information systems to evolve for continued performance.
- Develop the rules : not only to ensure the proper functioning of all the departments concerned by the use of data (no question of slowing down access, reducing efficiency, etc.), but above all in order to cope with the constant evolutions which require a flexibility of the methods put in place to maintain performance.
The illustration below shows with humor that the rules of data governance can not be limited to unilateral and thoughtless decision-making.
We will discuss in an upcoming article the next pillar of data governance which is the organization.
Starting from containers to better manage the content
The expertise of Rever is about the whole data ecosystem, namely the content (data itself), the container (storage) and the uses thereof. Rever's software solutions work simultaneously on these three closely related dimensions. Indeed, our unique approach on the market is based on the « bottom-up » principle : the starting point is the data seen from a technical « reality » perspective, and then moving back to the uses and connections thereon. This allows us to find the links between data, among others possibilities.
The entire data lifecycle must be analyzed, thought out and governed from the « business » point of view. The metadata are also taken into account in order to guarantee the information discovery at the appropriate time, we then mention data knowledge and also semantic dictionary.
Ultimately, once all fears, suspicions and rivalries are clarified, the information governance strategy benefits the company, which can then extend the application of this strategy to all organizational levels in order to better manage its assets, teams, infrastructure... - always keeping the idea of sustainability in mind. Whatever the size of the company, a good strategy will remain applicable. Just as a government must be able to manage its representatives, citizens and infrastructures by applying the same fundamental principle of governance.