How Data Governance Keeps Your Journey to Cloud on Track

Since I started posting to “Cloud Data Management: Notes from the Field,” I’ve talked about my experiences with customers around tying cloud initiatives to business value, and the art of staying on track as other imperatives challenge the ongoing cloud roll out. Today we are going to discuss how Data Governance keeps your journey to cloud on track.

A crucial aspect of a successful journey to cloud is culture. The migration to cloud is a business transformation. Any consultant—anyone who’s ever led a transformation, successfully or not, will tell you that change management and cultural issues are the greatest barrier to, or enabler of, success. An essential aspect to the culture around your move to cloud is in how you govern your data. That’s always proven true with each of our customers.

Strong data governance becomes a highly efficient way to validate your IT strategy and the investment you’re making in all aspects of digital transformation—particularly in the move to the cloud. Governance solves two core IT challenges—first, quantifying the business value of IT, and second, setting priorities.

The value proposition of a Journey to Cloud

One of the most common challenges IT organizations face is to connect what they’re working on to bottom-line business value. In most enterprises, the IT org is just viewed as overhead, and IT folks aren’t always great at making the case otherwise. We as engineers are really good at talking about the technological what we’re doing—the system we upgraded this month, the new sales force automation tool that’s this quarter’s big project—but we’re not always great at fully understanding, and communicating, the business why of it.

IT leaders have to know the business outcome any implementation is trying to achieve. The vast majority of the time, that link isn’t made, and the CIO struggles to defend a budget viewed by others in their organization as a huge cost sink. Which is where a business strategy around data comes in: Needs and goals are expressed in business terms, and IT’s role in achieving that value becomes clear. The data governance board is instrumental to that discussion.

First things first

When done correctly, the data governance body also ends up being your clearing house for project prioritization. As a shared service, IT has to prioritize some projects over others, and you can’t make everybody happy. A well-functioning data governance body, consisting of business and IT leaders, will help justify whether to, say, do the integration of data from Salesforce to Marketo, before or after upgrading to the latest versions of SAP for Finance.

With business people on board, you can have conversations about how technology can solve real problems, and decide which moves provide the greatest and most immediate value—whether by minimizing risks or seizing opportunities. If part of your strategy is to use the cloud to enable better integration of, and access to, data, for more efficient use of data across your enterprise, all those decisions at the governance level help you stay on that path, even as other priorities are addressed.

Winning hearts and minds along your Journey to Cloud

Strong data governance brings together the right stakeholders, and transforms the conversation around IT from “big cost center” to “instrumental to achieving business goals.” In my previous post, I said that having high-level buy-in to your IT roadmap, cloud transformation and all, is crucial to avoid being derailed. That buy-in starts right here, and the result is an endorsed roadmap for cloud adoption and other digital initiatives.

In my next post, I hope to go into the actual components of a cloud journey roadmap, from technology issues to human concerns.

We’ve written an eBook about leveraging data governance to establish a culture of shared accountability between business and IT. It’s one of the five imperatives for chief data officers to deliver high-value digital transformations. If you want to check out the eBook, you can download it here.

How Data Governance Keeps Your Journey to Cloud on Track