Why does data governance matter anyway?

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The data sphere is an unforgiving environment to be in. No organisation wants to make data breach headlines next, and watching giants like Facebook succumb to such an event causes great unease. Not only that, but the sheer volume of data that companies must tackle is a harrowing task alone. Organising the data accordingly takes up a lot of a data scientist's time, making data more of a chore than a currency. Simultaneously, regional and government-prescribed data regulations leave no room for error, leaving businesses wondering why they bother with data in the first place.

However, as a reminder, data builds on the idea that knowledge is power. Data can give you detailed insights into your business and customers. With this information, you can go on to provide better, more personalised customer service, as well as learn more about your business processes. Today, data plays a large role in business decision-making and ultimately, profitability.

So, how can organisations ensure that they handle data accordingly, without quashing the potential it has to offer them?

Do data better with data governance

Data governance is the combination of best practices and processes that enables businesses to better manage their data. In particular, it enables the formal management of data that ensures compliance and positively impacts a company's bottom line.

George Firican, Principal at LightsOnData Consulting & Training, outlines the what and why of data governance well:

"Data Governance is the discipline which provides all data management practices with the necessary foundation, strategy, and structure needed to ensure that data is managed as an asset and transformed into meaningful information.

With organisations now relying more and more on data for better decision-making, having an increased responsibility to better steward their customers' data, and trying to gain a competitive advantage through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence, data governance is not just here to stay, but to be recognised as a critical component in the success mechanism of any organisation."

The benefits of data governance are widespread. In terms of costs, if exercised well, organisations will find that it saves them significant costs. The average company's data will be riddled with duplicates and data that has no real value. The more of this useless data you tackle, the more cost savings this will make. Shedding the excess data pounds will leave you with a better database and save you from trawling through the extra, unnecessary entries.

Thus, with a more solid database, you have more transparency into your processes and progress. For those who enjoy tidier surroundings, data governance will also enable you to action organised, legible data for quicker return. In turn, data governance is a no-brainer for companies today, and the scales have tilted from 'nice to have' to 'must have'.

Implementing data governance

Implementing data governance is no overnight job. Instead, organisations must take the time to explore their different data assets. In particular, you must decide which data assets need maintenance and delegate accordingly.

Data governance is a team effort, and everyone must receive full clarity on processes. In particular, organisations must make clear who is in charge of collecting and governing the data.

You may wish to build a data governance team dedicated especially to the matter. For some companies, getting the right expertise means hiring a Chief Data Officer to spearhead governance efforts. For others, employing someone to cover governance part-time may also suffice. There are no blanket rules in particular, as the 'how' doesn't really matter. The most important thing is that it gets done.

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