Is Data Governance Worthy of Executive Attention?

Loraine Lawson
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Five Tips for Easier Data Governance

Five steps you can take to ease the trauma of starting data governance.

Is data governance an executive-level problem?


Ideally, sure. Why not? After all, who controls and accesses data isn't just an exercise in power; it can have business, even legal, ramifications.


But, on the other hand, do executives really care? Can you realistically even expect them to?


"Do you imagine executives are losing sleep over data, never mind data governance?" challenged R. Ordowich (Amazon notes that's his real name) in a recent Amazon review. "Data governance attempts to govern the people and therein lays its Achilles heel. Few people want to be governed especially so by IT folks who conceived of data governance in the first place."


R. Ordowich (I'll let you Google that one for yourself to see if you can figure out the full name) wrote his comments in a review that's actually only tangentially (he admits he hasn't read the book) about Jim Orr's new book, "Data Governance For The Executive."


As you can tell by the book title, Orr views the situation a bit differently.


Orr is a long-time data management consultant and currently the global product marketing director at Information Builders. He's also a founding member of the Data Governance Professional Organization with experience in numerous verticals and as a leader of various data-focused organizations to back up his ideas.


He contends data governance is "the final frontier" for organizations when it comes to cutting costs, increasing revenue, reducing risks and staying in compliance with regulations. That could amount to a lot of money for most midmarket and enterprise organizations, Orr notes - perhaps millions of dollars to the bottom line.


So, as Orr sees it, executives who don't understand data governance are missing out.


"In my opinion, many business leaders do not fully grasp its benefits and there are relatively few case studies demonstrating the discipline's business value," Orr states in a post about his book. "It's my hope that, by discussing its evolution and explaining how data governance can be beneficial to executives, readers will obtain a better understanding of its value, and begin to apply these practices within their organizations."


It's difficult to say for sure how much no or inadequate data governance costs organizations. As Accenture Analytics Executive Director Greg Todd once noted, "The cost of poor data governance is hidden in inefficient business processes, excessive data management activities and the inability to use information for strategic business advantage."


But its symptoms show up everywhere, Todd continues, from managers who spend more than a quarter of their time searching for information - which often ends up being of no value - to the problem of departments refusing (at the worst) or failing (at best) to share information with each other.


Orr contends that data governance should be approached holistically or across the whole organization. In doing so, he says, it can be the crossroads where IT and business can finally meet and bridge that alignment gap we're always going on about.


If you don't have time for 255 pages on data governance or you don't want to spend the $59.95 (what?) to buy it, then here's another option: Orr is presenting a webinar on data governance for the executive on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. ET, 11 a.m. PT. The free event is offered by Dataversity, an online educational portal that focuses on data management issues.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 3, 2011 6:05 PM Mark Troester Mark Troester  says:

Don't you think the reality is somewhere in the middle? I think we should aspire to get the C-suite to think data governance but we have to connect the dots. I haven't read the 'Data Governance for Executives' but I think the title is going to be a challenge. I don't know many CEOs, outside of the some obvious businesses, that think at that level. They aren't thinking 'I need a data governance solution' if we are lucky, they may be thinking that data, or better yet information can be a competitive differentiator, maybe even something that can be capitalized. But more likely, they are thinking about competition, corporate strategy, quarterly financial results, etc., and I doubt they relate these topics to data governance. I think it's more likely that someone in the organization drives a small win that translates to business gain that can be brought to the attention of the CIO. And that may lead to executive level support.   

Mark Troester

Global CIO/IT Product Marketing



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