In times of pandemic, data governance will give you the competitive edge

Unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of the world’s activities to a stand-still.

As the pandemic spread across the globe, with impacts across every country and business, organizations seek to remain operational, and adapt to the new normal.

This pandemic created an unprecedented risky environment, where organizations must rapidly make decisions, grounded on trusted, timely and accurate data.

Data governance may not seem to be the highest priority. But this is the time to address issues that have always existed in all types of organizations:

  • The gap between business and IT, leading to often contradictory strategies.
  • Difficulty in managing a siloed data ecosystem.
  • Difficulty to identify and define data across sources.
  • Lack of standard business and data management rules and data protection policies.
  • Rising data-security concerns around providing employees with remote access to data.
  • Difficulty to identify, cleanse, standardize, and curate data for sharing.
  • Existence of duplicate, erroneous, inaccurate and incomplete data.

With one common denominator: data.

From day one, data is being created, compiled, collected, stored and distributed. Data is present in all the organization’s processes, from risk or regulatory compliance to routine operations.

Data is the most powerful asset an organization has.

Organizations are investing heavily in leveraging new technologies, artificial intelligence, machine learning the internet of things, augmented and predictive analytics, and data is at the core of each of these initiatives.

They are fully dependent on data; all are aimed at providing quality data that is essential to improving insights and driving substantiated business decisions.

How to turn data into useful, insightful and actionable information?

Start with data governance.

Often seen as a labour-intensive, time-consuming process that can spread across long time frames, it is easy to conclude that, when most organizations are working in reactive mode, this is the worse time to engage in such initiatives.

With all the technological advances and with larger volumes of data available organizations can increase their competitivity and earning potential, but also to highlight existing operational inefficiencies and fail to rise in an increasingly competitive business environment.

This is where the capacity to know what data the organization has, where and how it is held, and the ability to protect the integrity of that data, is a critical advantage.

Organizations need to have a clear stand on safeguarding its most important asset — data. And as for any other asset this means to define the processes and procedures by which their data will be managed.

The goal of data governance is to ensure that an organization’s business objectives are accomplished, by guaranteeing that data is available as needed for business purposes, but also secure, private and in compliance with regulatory requirements.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to data governance and specially in the present moment — when organizations are being pressed for results or to quickly adapt to cope with a rapidly changing business environment — a more pragmatic and agile approach is paramount.

Being prepared is overrated

Although preparation is essential, and a critical factor for the success of any initiative, it is also common that the time and effort spent preparing overcomes the time spent doing.

Aiming at starting with and enterprise wide data governance initiative, making sure that all the conditions are perfect to start, will indefinitely delay the starting date.

Do not get lost in getting ready, turn activities in to actions. As soon as possible. No matter how small.

  • Prioritize — Start with an end in mind and a clear business objective.
  • Start small — Start with a small but business relevant initiative.
  • Measure — Gather business metrics that can be linked to the data governance initiative.
  • Replicate — Replicate your success stories across the organization.

There is a thin line between preparation and procrastination. Preparing an initiative of this dimension is above all comfortable. It is comfortable because nothing is taking place, there is no commitment, no results.

Start a small initiative in a department or business unit, with a small business or data domain.

Monitor and assess the results, implement corrective actions, modifying the practices to respond to the specific needs, making data governance part of the business process.

After this, results will turn into energy, energy into action, momentum steps in and lends a hand.

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Jose Almeida

Jose Almeida

Data Consulting and Advisory MEA - Driving better insights through better data (www.josealmeidadc.com)