Data Governance for Dummies: what it is and how it can help your business

Software Development Nov 21, 2023

Data, data everywhere! 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. Managing this vast information effectively is not just an option, it's a necessity. So, enter Data Governance. But what is it? It's more than a buzzword; it's a critical framework ensuring data is accurate, accessible, consistent, and protected.

Think about this: according to Mckinsey Global Institute, organizations that leverage data effectively are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain those customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable. Impressive, right?

But how do you harness this power of data? That's where we, at Acid Tango, step in. We understand the overwhelming nature of data management and the confusion surrounding Data Governance.

With this article, we'll break down the complexities of Data Governance into simple, actionable insights. Whether you're a small startup or a multinational corporation, implementing effective Data Governance can unlock a multitude of benefits for your business. Stick with us, and let's explore how you can make data your most valuable asset.

What is Data Governance? These are the basics

Imagine data as your team's strategy – it needs rules and guidelines to be effective. Data Governance provides this structure, ensuring that data is not only used safely and effectively but also maintained in top condition for making smart decisions.

So, think of Data Governance as a methodology that keeps your data in prime shape to support your business initiatives and operations. It's like having a personal trainer for your data, making sure it's fit and ready for the business marathon. By aligning Data Governance with your business goals, you unlock a treasure trove of benefits:

  • Justify the Funding: It helps you make a solid case for investing in data programs.
  • Boost Engagement: Encourages participation across different business communities.
  • Prioritize Data Tasks: Sets the agenda for data-related activities.
  • Integrate Data Seamlessly: Ensures smooth data integration across business areas.
  • Determine the Right Model: Helps you find the perfect balance between centralized and decentralized operations.

And wait: this is not over. Data Governance can back AI and ML initiatives through data preparation, transforming data into a format usable for training and production inference. The ideal scenario is where you don't have to do this prep work yourself. Data scientists often spend too much time prepping data for each use case; a Data Governance team can relieve this burden.

Moreover, Data Governance oversees the creation of configured feature stores for AI and ML use cases. Sensitive data needs to be adequately protected to mitigate risks associated with its use in training foundational models.

Like in analytics, the use of AI and ML models needs regulation. Ideally, this should be closely linked with analytics governance, as this function understands how to support various business areas.

In other words:

  • Data Governance: Think of it as a set of rules to make sure you use your data safely and smartly.
  • Benefits: It helps your data match your business goals, makes it easier to get funding, gets more people involved, organizes your tasks, and connects different data parts smoothly.
  • For Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI): It's about making sure the data used for ML and AI is good quality, used in the right way, and the AI behaves as expected.
  • Helping AI/ML Work Better: It also means getting your data ready and safe for AI and ML, making life easier for the tech folks working with this data, and keeping an eye on how AI and ML models are used.

Why is Data Governance important?

Imagine driving a car without any traffic rules - chaos, right? That's what happens in the world of data without Data Governance. It's the set of traffic rules for your business's data highway, ensuring everything runs smoothly and safely. Here's why it's so crucial:

  1. Avoiding Data Disasters: Without proper Data Governance, your business could face serious issues like security breaches or data loss. These aren't just tech problems; they can lead to big fines, losing customers' trust, and even harming your business’s reputation.
  2. Enabling Effective Data Security: Data Governance is the backbone of data security. It's like having a good security system in your house; it keeps your data safe and sound.
  3. Legal Compliance: Just like following laws keeps you out of trouble, Data Governance ensures your business sticks to data-related laws and regulations, avoiding penalties.
  4. Better Decision Making: With Data Governance, you're not just guessing; you're making decisions based on high-quality, well-managed data. It's like having a reliable map for your business journey.
  5. Saving Money: By organizing and analyzing data systematically, Data Governance helps cut down costs. It makes your business processes leaner and more efficient.
  6. Building Trust: When customers know you handle their data securely and responsibly, they trust you more. Data Governance helps build and maintain this trust.

How does Data Governance work?

Of course, Data Governance may sound complex, but it's like running a well-organized team. Each team member knows their role, follows the rules, and works towards a common goal.

Here's a simplified breakdown of how it works, based on principles from the Data Governance Institute and core best practices:

The Eight Principles:

  1. Integrity Among Participants: Everyone involved must be honest and open about their roles and impacts on data-related decisions. It's like having a team where everyone plays fair.
  2. Transparency: The process should be clear to everyone. It's like keeping the playbook open for all team members.
  3. Auditable Actions: Every decision and action should be recorded. Think of it as keeping a game log to review plays.
  4. Defined Accountability: There should be a clear understanding of who is responsible for what. It's assigning specific roles to team members.
  5. Stewardship Accountability: Individual contributors and groups need to know their stewardship responsibilities. It’s like knowing who plays offense and who's on defense.
  6. Balanced Checks-and-Balances: There needs to be a balance between different teams - business, tech, information creators, managers, users, and standards enforcers. It's ensuring that every part of the team works in harmony.
  7. Standardization: Introducing standard practices for handling enterprise data. Think of it as having a uniform playbook for everyone.
  8. Proactive and Reactive Change Management: Being ready to adapt to changes in data values, structures, and uses. It's like having a team that can adapt to any play.

Six Core Best Practices:

  1. Identify Key Data Elements: Treat data as a valuable team player.
  2. Set Lifecycle Policies: Have rules for every stage of your data's life, from creation to deletion.
  3. Involve Business Users: Get input from those who use the data daily.
  4. Master Data Management: Don't overlook the management of key data assets.
  5. Understand Data Value: Recognize the importance and potential of your data.
  6. Balance Data Use Restrictions: Make sure rules don’t stifle the ability to use data effectively.

Difference between Data Governance and Data Management

And wait: we are sure you have heard about Data Management. But they are two really different things. And understanding this difference is like knowing the difference between planning a trip and actually going on the trip. Both are important, but they serve different purposes. Here’s a simple explanation:

Data Governance is like the blueprint for a building. It's all about setting up the rules, policies, and procedures.

This includes:

  • Documentation: Outlining who owns the data and who can access it.
  • Ownership and Access: Defining who is responsible for different types of data.
  • Data Sources: Identifying where the data comes from.
  • Security and Compliance: Making sure data is protected and meets legal requirements.

Data Management, on the other hand, is like constructing the building based on the blueprint. It's about taking all those policies and rules from Data Governance and turning them into action.

This involves:

  • Executing Rules and Policies: Putting the plans into practice.
  • Compilation and Use of Data: Gathering and utilizing data for decision-making.
  • Enforcement of Policies: Making sure the rules are followed.

While you can manage data without a governance plan (just like you can build a building without a blueprint), it’s not efficient or effective. Without Data Governance, Data Management might lead to mistakes, inefficiencies, and increased risks. Data Governance without execution (Data Management) is just a set of unused plans.

Some Data Governance examples

Here some examples for you:

  • Data Usability: Imagine a library where every book is easy to find and understand. That's what Data Governance does with your data. It's stored in one place and organized logically, so everyone knows what each piece of data means, how it's collected, and how to use it.
  • Metadata Management: Think of metadata as the summary on the back of a book. It describes your data, explaining why it's collected and how it's relevant. This context is crucial, especially if data gets misplaced or its purpose is forgotten.
  • Data Security: Not all data is for everyone's eyes. Data Governance ensures sensitive information, like payroll or financial details, is only accessible to specific people. It’s like having a safe in a bank, only more accessible to those who need it.
  • Data Auditing: Regular data audits are like health check-ups for your data. They assess how the data is used and ensure its reliability and relevance, helping you make informed decisions and identify risks early.
  • Data Quality: Ensuring data is accurate and consistent is crucial. Inaccurate data can lead to costly mistakes. Regular checks help filter out wrong or outdated information, much like how a quality control inspector ensures products meet standards.
  • Data Integration: Sometimes, data from different sources needs to be combined to make sense of it. Data integration is like making a smoothie from different fruits; it blends various data to give a comprehensive view of your business.
  • Data Preservation: Deciding how to store and preserve data is key. Some data is used daily, while other data can be archived or deleted. It’s like deciding which files to keep on your desk and which to store away for future reference.

How can we use Data Governance to help your business

Navigating towards success requires more than just collecting information; it's about managing it wisely. At Acid Tango, we're here to guide you through this journey. Here’s how Data Governance can transform your business:

  • Maximizing Customer Data: By effectively managing customer data, your business can understand customer needs better. This leads to smarter business decisions, from product development to marketing strategies.
  • Efficient Decision-Making: Imagine having all the necessary information at your fingertips, neatly organized and easy to access. That’s what Data Governance does. It provides your employees with reliable data, aiding in quick and informed decision-making.
  • Minimizing Risks: Quick access to accurate, real-time metrics not only minimizes risks but also opens doors for timely upselling and cross-selling opportunities. It’s like having a GPS for market trends.
  • Ensuring Data Security: In a world where 87% of customers shy away from businesses with security concerns, Data Governance acts as a shield, protecting your customer's data and maintaining their trust.
  • Market Growth and Opportunity: The Data Governance Market is booming, projected to reach 5.28 billion dollars by 2026. By implementing Data Governance, your business can stay ahead of the curve, tapping into new opportunities.

How can Acid Tango help you?

We specialize in turning the complex maze of Data Governance into a clear path forward for your business. Our approach is tailored to meet your unique needs, ensuring that your data is not just managed, but optimized for maximum benefit.

Whether it's streamlining data processes, ensuring compliance, or unlocking the potential of your data assets, we're here to help.

Ready to harness the power of Data Governance? Join the ranks of forward-thinking businesses and let Acid Tango be your partner in this journey.

Contact us today, and let’s turn your data into your most valuable asset. The future of business is data-driven, and with Acid Tango, you're set to lead the way.