What is data governance for laypeople?

Data governance and data democratization

Data governance deals with the establishment of processes, procedures and roles in a company. Where is the data located? Who do they belong to? Who should access them and how? These are just a few questions that require proper data management. The goal of data governance is to ensure that the data within a company is trustworthy, discoverable, usable and consistent. Data governance can also help enable the democratization of data, which refers to making data available to a broad base of users within an organization. The goal of expanding the user base for data within a company is to make the corporate culture more data-oriented and to let everyone use the power of data. Traditionally, data is contained in silos belonging to a specific department in a company, which makes it difficult to access data across departments. In addition, from a technical point of view, access to data stored in databases is difficult for the average layperson. By establishing clear guidelines and procedures for how data should be accessed, data governance can break down these barriers to data democratization.

Data democratization is the idea that organizations work better when data can be used by as many employees as possible. It relies heavily on training all employees and providing the right tools to apply self-service analytics.

Data governance ensures that data is better protected, trustworthy, discoverable, usable and understandable, while data democratization ensures that the exploitation of data is widespread throughout the company. Both disciplines can greatly support each other and increase the value of data exponentially.

Data governance is the discipline of managing data to ensure that it can be (re) used by the people in the company in an effective and compliant manner. Although the goal of data governance is fairly clear and the description of data governance is similar in all organizations, the way in which to implement data governance to achieve the goal is much less obvious. The way in which data governance is implemented can vary greatly from company to company. Simple implementations can include some basic rules for how data is documented, managed, and shared that are followed across the enterprise. Complex data governance programs can include the establishment of new roles and responsibilities within the organization, the establishment of governance committees or steering boards, the training of employees across the organization, and the implementation of new processes and tools to support data governance. The benefits of data governance can be many. They typically include:

  • Reducing the negative business impact that results from poor data quality
  • Increased confidence in the use of data from other departments for innovations and process improvements
  • Higher data compliance through better controls
  • In some cases significant efficiency gains in the use of data because the user can find and understand the data more quickly

Without data governance, however, there is a risk of chaos, as nobody really knows what is in the data and synergies between data users are difficult to achieve. Each user has to take care of the data quality separately and cannot trust the data of others.

In a data-driven company, employees use data from different areas of the company to improve their daily work. Data democratization is the idea that an organization works better when as many employees as possible can use data from across the company. One element of data democratization is ensuring that the data is available for others to use, and this is where data governance can help. Another element is the provision of tools with which data from non-experts can easily be processed, combined, transformed and visualized, e.g. B. with self-service BI and dashboarding tools and easy-to-use data science tools that work on a drag-and-drop basis.