Adapting Big Data Governance: Business Buy-In and Technology

Loraine Lawson
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Governance is one of those issues frequently mentioned with Big Data, but few pieces go into depth about what that means. So this week, I’ve focused on what several expert sources say about Big Data governance.

First, I shared four new governance challenges Big Data creates. The next day’s post focused on how to prioritize, simplify and adapt for two of those challenges _— data roles and a broader, enterprise-approach to the data.

Today, I’m wrapping up with a look at what experts say about the next two problem areas: business buy-in and technical challenges.

Business Buy-In

In my previous post, I shared how Big Data creates broader business involvement and explained the problems that this can create. Involvement isn’t enough, though. For success, you’ll also need to ensure that business users understand, appreciate and support Big Data governance.

Prioritize: Middle managers are often the cause of slow adoption and maturity, writes Avi Kalderon,  NewVantage Partners’ practice leader for Big Data and Analytics, in “10 Steps to Big Data Success.” That’s because they tend to be the skeptics, so be sure to prioritize winning over LOB middle managers.


“A good data governance implementation will identify key integration points with existing processes and strategic initiatives that have a well defined value proposition and help the organization understand how to leverage well managed data to their advantage,” he writes.

Once you’ve won over early adopters, use them as champions, he adds. But above all, keep coming back to how governance supports achieving Big Data business value for their divisions.

Prioritize: Since perfect data governance in Big Data becomes expensive fast, Kalderon suggests that you prioritize what needs to be done for “good enough” data governance.

Simplify: Focus on teaching users simple skills that do a “good enough” job. Then, measure to see how well users comply with the simple processes and retrain if necessary. After the initial rounds of training, simplify by incorporating data governance training into other training or education programs.

Adapt: Data governance will work best when it’s incorporated as a natural extension of a user’s current work, Kalderon states, so look at how you can adapt your tools to fit their workflow.

Technical Challenges

Big Data introduces a few new technical challenges into data governance, particularly when it comes to data quality, data lineage, metadata and tagging.

Adapt: Before you do anything else, “launch data governance with a small facilitation team,” advises QuinStreet’s ebook, “Turning Big Data into Useful Information.” That team's job will be to consider what needs to change to support Big Data.

Data Governance

Prioritize: Prioritize spending on tools that will support Big Data governance, “such as data quality, metadata and lineage tools, to provide visibility and measures to the data governance board,” the ebook notes. Check to see if your existing third-party integration or data management solutions can address some or all of these needs.

Simplify: Look at how technology can support data governance in new ways, whether it’s incorporating the tools into a user’s workflow or establishing new ways of measuring data quality. For instance, Kalderon suggests that as Big Data use matures, organizations use “a quality or precision-classification approach that will allow the data users to understand what they’re using and adjust their expectations accordingly.” In other words, think Amazon customer reviews versus RDBS data quality reports.

“Make business and I/T drive the workload and timing,” Kalderon writes. “Taking a change management approach to data governance will help you calibrate your program to the pace your organization can handle while showing gradual improvements that build momentum.”

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.



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