It’s Time for Data Governance to Hit Its Stride

I’ve been playing the data governance game for going on 20-plus years now. I call it a game only in that there are winners and … let’s call them … “not-winners.”

I see the winners as those with the most passion, skill and determination to achieve the outcome they desire. The not-winners are those that consider data governance a side job, not a way of life (a.k.a. the best way to manage their business).

The not-winners aren’t always losers; many deliver effective outcomes for their efforts. But those outcomes are often tactical, for example tied to a successful data warehouse, analytics or CRM implementation. But once that project completes and the solution goes live, the data governance often goes away. How many of you are working on your 2nd, 3rd or 4th attempt at standing up a data governance practice within your organizations?

Data governance is not about the technology. But it’s important

We all (hopefully) recognize that technology plays a supporting role to the critical people, process and organizational competencies required to build a data governance program. Data governance leaders, and the data stewards and analysts that represent the front line of many of these initiatives, rely on technology to help build the case, operationalize the processes, and effectively measure and iterate the program to scale to support more parts of the business.

When I started my data governance journey as a data management practitioner in the 1990’s, and well into the 2000’s, the technology at my disposal was limited to productivity tools like Word, Excel and Access as well as “discovery tools” which were pretty much SQL query building tools like Golden and Toad.

When I entered the next phase of my career as an industry analyst with Forrester in 2006, I saw the emergence of the desire by customers for their data integration, data quality and MDM vendors, among others, to deliver more “business-friendly” tools for data stewards and business analysts. These business-savvy individuals partnered closely with IT to provide the data requirements, standards, workflows and rules that went into the data management infrastructure being developed. Now instead of spreadsheets as the primary communication tool, things like business glossaries, business-friendly profiling tools and exception management/stewardship tools were delivered to support many aspects of operational stewardship. But up until the 2010 time frame, data governance remained largely an IT-led effort (with some functional exceptions such as Governance, Risk and Compliance), meaning the vendors were not ready or credible enough to reach true business users.

Enter the CDO

As we entered our current decade, there has been a true renaissance regarding the role of the business in data.   Concepts like business-led data governance, business self-service, citizen stewards, and the democratization of data became the new language of data management. Business users visualize the quality or security risks associated with their data and understanding where the issues exist and more importantly how to mitigate the concerns. And not coincidentally, the role of the CDO (both Chief Data and Chief Digital Officers) which sprouted a decade earlier was now blossoming as the new normal across many industries in terms of data leadership.

With these new data leadership roles fully focused on business outcomes – not data or IT outcomes, the need for tools and processes to support policy definition, coordination and collaboration, as well as business-centric ROI measurement, became a priority. Hence a new market emerged looking to serve these business-led data programs, offering more of an application and process approach to data governance, leaving the infrastructure components like metadata management, data integration, data quality, master data management and data security to the existing players.

Data governance business apps, meet data governance infrastructure 

Over the past 5-7 years, several new vendors emerged to address some under-served capabilities around policy management, business stewardship, discovery and business value-centric dashboards, among others. These newer vendors accomplished this by focusing first and foremost on the business user experience, ensuring both the visualization and user-friendliness of the application was attractive and could encourage adoption.

Many of the emerging vendors focused on the need for semantic consistency through a strong business glossary at their core, with other stewardship processes evolving over time. But while these applications excelled in a user-friendly experience, their customers still had to take on the often expensive and manual burden of integrating the policies and workflows with their critical data management infrastructure investments to ensure metadata, DQ and security insights were being effectively shared.

The need for best of breed solutions existed. Purchase your data management platform capabilities from one vendor, and buy your Data Governance apps from another. Then pay for the services required to knit it all together and hope for the best.

With this history in mind, I’m very excited to share the news that Informatica – representing the leader in holistic data governance infrastructure software acquired Diaku, an innovator in next-generation Data Governance applications. Along with our award-winning Secure@Source solution, a security intelligence analytics app focused on the needs of the risk and security professionals, and our new Enterprise Data Catalog, Informatica now offers the industry’s first Enterprise Data Governance solution. Our solution allows Diaku’s business-centric policy and stewardship management application to integrate and leverage all the benefits across our Intelligent Data platform. With our solution, your data governance initiatives can succeed, no matter your business driver, starting point, or level of complexity.

The planets have aligned; let’s get to work!

Data governance is hard. On, the average data governance maturity score from over 400 completed assessments spanning 15+ industries is a mere 1.64 out of 5.00. But those low scores only magnify the reality that true data governance adoption is set to explode. Game-changing, data-driven differentiation is in the sights of every company within every industry around the globe. The true winners of the data governance game will be the ones who harness the power of data to enable their organization’s digital transformation journey. Will you be one of the winners?