Unlocking the power of data governance: Five tips to get started

The importance of data governance as a sophisticated data strategy solution is growing as organizations face greater challenges in managing their data and dealing with organizational data chaos. However, companies often face a hurdle in the early stages of implementation. The need for collaboration to establish efficient metadata management and comprehensive data cataloging adds to the complexity of establishing an effective data governance framework. Achieving data governance maturity requires a well-defined roadmap, yet many companies struggle with the practical steps necessary for successful implementation. This situation underscores the critical need for a structured approach to data analytics governance and outlines the essential steps for implementing a robust data governance strategy.

Reports predict that by 2025, up to 80% of organizationstrying to grow their digital business will fail because they do not have amodern approach to data management and analytics.

In a digital age where technology continues to transform the business landscape, it is clear that data is the currency of the 21st century. Organizations of all sizes have come to recognize the value of their data assets. These assets provide unique insights, drive innovation, and give them a competitive advantage. While the importance of data is growing exponentially, it is disturbing how often it remains undervalued, under-protected, and, in many cases, untapped.

Data management is not such a new field. Many companies have already addressed the issue, but often with disappointing results. Unsatisfactory data governance solutions often lead to repeated rebuilding of data warehouses, which wastes significant financial resources.

Consider for a moment the paradox of our modern world: people go to great lengths to protect their personal computers, smartphones, and other tangible assets because they consider them valuable assets. Physical assets are meticulously documented. However, a similar cataloging process is often overlooked for data. The ambiguity surrounding who owns what data and who is responsible can create significant challenges, underlining the critical need for a structured approach to data governance.

This article explores the fundamental concept of data management and why viewing data as your most valuable asset is not just a metaphorical idea, but a strategic imperative. We will explore the key role that effective data governance plays in unlocking the full potential of data, protecting against risk, ensuring compliance, and supporting innovation. Join us on this journey as we uncover the layers of data governance and equip organizations with the knowledge and tools they need to unlock the power of their most valuable asset. With the five basic golden rules outlined in this article, we will help you get started on this journey towards bringing data to light!

The Clothes Closet Metaphor: Why Your Data Is a Mess

Typical organizations struggling with data governance are large and medium-sized companies that have already invested millions of dollars in a data solution. However, given the growing trend, we can expect an increasing demand for more sophisticated data management solutions. As we enter the era of big data, investing in data will give companies a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Despite the huge benefits of this investment, there are many companies that have invested heavily in data solutions and gotten burned because the solutions they chose were not tailored to their real-world conditions. They had, and still have, a data mess instead of data mesh.

Let's use a simple metaphor. You have a big room in your home where you have a closet and the whole family keeps their clothes in it. You know you have some clothes in there, but you do not know exactly what and where. Whenever you need something to wear, you have to look in the closet for a long time. Maybe you find what you are looking for, but maybe not. And if you do find it, it may be dirty or damaged.

Two piles of clothes side by side. One is smaller than the other. The smaller pile illustrates the beginning clutter in the data with the additional comment "Do you know where that blue shirt is that I bought last summer? In the larger pile, where there is even more clutter, the lost t-shirt is found: "Ah, there it is! Although not quite in the shape I expected.

This is similar to the data in your organization. You may have some data, but you have no idea where it is or how to use it. Whenever you need data for a task, you have to search for it for a long time. Maybe you find it, maybe you do not. And when you do find it, it may be inaccurate or incomplete. A dysfunctional data governance solution can be like a closet that's organized but messy. The clothes you need for this season may be hidden behind last season's clothes, or they may be in a different closet. For example, data may be stored in different systems that are not connected. This can make it difficult to find and use.

A demonstration of what it looks like without data governance and what it looks like with it. Without data governance, it's like having a big pile of clothes where you can't find anything. Conversely, with data governance, it's an organized and tidy closet where I can quickly find what I need.

A data governance platform can be like a closet that is not only tidy but organized if the right tool is chosen. A platform can consolidate data in one place and provide tools to manage and analyze it. This can make it easier to find and use data, thereby improving its usability.

A Simple Answer to a Complex Problem

The question that arises at this point is why do companies allow the disorganization of data to go so far when managing it can both improve its usability, save large amounts of money that has already been invested in creating the data, and help them position themselves in the market? We can probably say that it is simply not a priority need at the moment. If you cannot quickly find what you are looking for in your wardrobe, then at best you settle for something inadequate that does not exactly match what you are looking for, or at worst you go out and buy new clothes (so you invest again in something you already have, but do not know how to get it). This accumulates over time. With a growing family, your wardrobe fills up and you forget previous investments. Unused clothes remain.

The same thing happens with data, the more you have, the more you need to organize it.

The finance industry has been involved in data governance for two decades, having started governance because of regulation. They are now realizing the benefit it can bring to mid-sized and smaller companies. If a company is starting from scratch, reaching the level of larger companies quickly can be challenging. But the important thing is to get started and not make a bigger deal out of it than it is. Also, no one ever really wants to clean their closet, even though everyone wants to have it tidy. And it gets messy when more than, say, three people are already working with the data.

Data governance is a simple answer to a complex and difficult problem. It involves people, processes, and technology. Data governance is a game of hide and seek. You try to figure out who owns the data, where it is hidden, and so on.

A data governance platform can help you organize your data and improve its quality and usability. And how?

By providing one place, one portal, where you can find all the data information you need. Whether you are a marketer or a data analyst, you can easily see where your data is, what it contains, how it is being used, and who owns it.

It automates many tasks, such as scanning data platforms, operational logs, and other sources. This frees up your time to focus on more important things, such as collaborating with others and improving data quality.

It promotes collaboration among the people who are responsible for the data. This helps ensure that data is accurate, up-to-date, and compliant.

As an example of how the Dawiso platform is helping companies improve their data management, consider Kooperativa. After implementing the Dawiso platform, the company gained better visibility into its data.

Many studies confirm the importance of this issue. Reports predict that by 2025, up to 80% of organizations trying to grow their digital business will fail because they do not have a modern approach to data management and analytics.

Five golden rules for getting started

With the right implementation strategy, you can increase your chances of being the one who always wins in this game of hide-and-seek. To show you that it is not as complicated as it first seems, here are these five promised golden rules:

1. Just do it!

The important thing is to get started. The sooner the better, because the problem grows exponentially after that. If you have data problems in your organization, it is time to take action so that one day you will not be able to find almost anything in your closet. A data governance platform can help you organize your data and improve its quality and usability.

2. Keep it simple.

If you are just beginning your journey, keep your feet on the ground and do not try to get everything perfect right away. It is impossible to adapt immediately to a major evolutionary change, as with anything. It is evolution, and it has to go through its stages. Do not go for complexity right away. Make the most of the minimum. That is the only way to improve. If you push too hard, it usually goes nowhere.

Data governance maturity levels - from unaware - aware - defined - managed - to optimizing
Do not try to go from the level of maturity 1 to the top levels right away.

3. Deliver value incrementally.

This point is related to the above. Do not make the implementation of a data solution an enterprise-wide activity. It has never helped anyone to quickly consolidate everything across all departments. Because then those who are waiting for it are unlikely to see it. It is fine to do the first version, get it out quickly, and roll it out gradually like a snowball, but do not chase complexity and perfection in the first step.

4. Think politically.  

One wants to focus on the greatest pain first. But beyond the whole process of implementing a data governance solution, you need to think about the human side of things and think politically. Not everyone will cheer you on with this initiative (tell your kids to clean their part of the closet, of course, they will sabotage and procrastinate because they do not see the bigger picture at first). So find good partners and start with them. Surely you will find at least one early adopter in every team, and through their influence you will convince other colleagues to implement the new solution over time.

5. Be honest.  

When implementing data governance, do not ask your people to do anything you are not doing yourself. Let us not be fooled and discouraged by strong proclamations, flashy terminology, terms like data steward, ownership, etc. Let's be honest and authentic. Data governance is not rocket science. Do not invent complexity!

Considering that the original talk was given at a KPMG data theme festival and that the motto was "Bringing data out of the underworld into daylight", we can also consider this to be a golden rule of five plus one. The value of data is too high to let it stay in the underworld.

Petr Mikeška
Dawiso CEO
Petr Mikeška
Dawiso CEO

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