IT used to be referred to as Data Processing. Despite the continuing evolution of IT through various paradigms, platforms, technologies, architectures and tools, the fundamental unit that IT is processing is still data. However, data has taken various forms and shapes. Cloud Computing has opened up opportunities to store and process structured and unstructured data. The need for Data Governance has been there since the day data processing was born. However, it has taken on a new dimension of its own in today's times.
“It is the economy, stupid”, was the election campaign slogan for one of the political parties a few years back. Guess what the campaign slogan would be today for Data Governance in the Land of IT? “It is the data, stupid”!
Let us challenge ourselves with a few questions about data governance.
What is Data Governance? It is the mechanism by which we ensure that the right corporate data is available to the right people at the right time in the right format with the right context through the right channels.
Why is Data Governance needed? The cloud, social networking and BYOD have acted as catalysts triggering an unprecedented growth in recent years. We need to control and understand the data we are dealing with in order to process it effectively in a secure manner.
When should Data Governance be exercised? Well, when shouldn't it be? Data Governance kicks in at the source where the data enters the enterprise and continues across the lifecycle as it is processed and consumed to address business needs until it is archived and/or purged.
Where does Data Governance apply? It applies to all business units across all the processes executed. Data Governance has a key role to play at the point of storage -- the last checkpoint before it is stored as being "golden" in the database. Data Governance also applies across all layers of the architecture:
- Presentation layer where the data enters the enterprise
- Business logic layer
- Integration layer where data is routed
- Storage layer where data finds its home
Who does Data Governance apply to? It applies to all business leaders, consumers, generators and administrators of data. It is a good idea to identify stewards for the ownership of key data domains. Stewards must ensure that their data domains abide by the enterprise architectural principles. They should continuously analyze the impact of various business events to their domains.
How is Data Governance applied? Data Governance must be exercised at the enterprise level with federated governance to individual business units and data domains. It should be proactively exercised when a new process, application, repository or interface is introduced. Existing data is likely to be impacted. In the absence of effective Data Governance, data is likely to be duplicated – by chance or choice.
We are in a universe of data where its informationalization yields valuable intelligence that enables effective decision making and analysis. However, even having the best people, process and technology is not going to yield the desired outcomes if the underlying data is suspect.
How about you? How is the data in your enterprise? What governance measures do you have in place? I would like to know.