The benefits of a solid data governance plan include increased cost and time efficiency, risk mitigation, greater consistency and quality of data. However, the question of who “owns” data or contributes to data governance within an organization varies greatly. Some companies have a department or smaller set of individuals responsible, and others having cross-disciplinary teams responsible for governance.
The distinction between data ownership and data governance is also important. The former is generally best done by a smaller team focused on the storage, security and integrity of data. The latter is more related to how data is shared, maintained, consumed and normalized across business functions and processes.
Narrow oversight of data governance within an organization doesn’t increase its value. In fact, in many cases it leads to inefficiencies and lost opportunities for internal and external audiences. In this article, I’ll explore some of the potential participants in data governance within an organization, and the factors to consider with each.
Data Is an Enterprise Asset, Not a Team Asset
Who in your organization benefits from data? If your answer isn’t “everyone,” it at least comprises many different teams, disciplines and roles. Because so many people benefit from data, regardless of the type or origin of the data, it should be considered an enterprise asset, not a team asset. This means the value of data benefits the company as a whole.
A shared data governance model helps reinforce this idea of data being an enterprise asset because many participants in a diverse set of roles, capabilities and teams are able to have input and guidance to how data is treated within the organization. This is in contrast to marketing having ownership and governance over marketing data, and sales over sales data, etc.
This window on the larger scope of enterprise data provides a better understanding of how different parts of the organization work together, how customers interact and behave throughout the entire lifecycle, and more.
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Agile Organizations Need Data From Across the Organization
Does your sales organization only benefit from sales data? Or would information about your latest marketing efforts, as well as customer support inquiries also help them make better decisions? Having access to both leading and lagging data help teams within an organization stay agile in a fast-moving environment. Access to real data helps teams avoid making wrong assumptions or decisions based on anecdotal information or incorrect hypotheses.
A shared data governance model helps organizations be more agile, make better decisions, and reduce the time and effort that it takes to make important change happen. The quicker teams within an organization can get insights, and the more diverse the sources of data within the organization, the better insights they can gain.
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The Customer Benefits When Data Is Shared
Does your customer care what department, division or team has access to the data they need in order to complete a transaction? I would wager that they don’t, as long as your company can help them easily accomplish what they need help doing.
So, finally, let’s look at this from the customer’s perspective. How many times have you called a customer service line, only to have to give your account information two or even three times to three different sets of people who all work for the same company? If you work for that same organization, there may be a perfectly logical explanation, involving systems that don’t “speak” to one another, or something similar, but how does that benefit your customers?
Of course, that example is a very simple (albeit frustrating) one. There are many more complex areas where lack of shared data either has an opportunity cost, or provides a negative customer experience. For instance, when your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned, or when your product and customer support teams don’t see eye-to-eye, issues and solutions that might seem obvious to your customers are shielded from view because of unnecessary disconnects.
A shared data governance model helps this because customers no longer have to navigate through an organizational hierarchy they neither need nor want to understand. Instead, because data is governed more seamlessly on the back end, the customer can experience a more seamless experience on the front end.
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Shared Data Governance Has a Ripple Effect
Just because governance is a shared responsibility doesn’t mean there isn’t an owner or manager of the processes. Although a chief data officer or similar role may sit under a particular executive such as the COO or CIO, their job is more as a facilitator of the many competing priorities that data users within a company may have.
As you can see, data governance impacts both internal and external audiences, and questions of ownership, sharing of data between teams and departments, and how that data flows between systems, can affect efficiency, customer satisfaction and more. Shared data governance can create a more agile organization that is capable of anticipating and responding to continual change.