Business Intelligence Utopia - Enabler 3: Data Governance

Posted by Karthikeyan Sankaran
September 10th, 2007

The “Power of Ten” introduced earlier in this forum is a list of pre-requisites to deliver the real promise of BI. We have already seen the first two – Changes to OLTP systems and Real time Data Integration.

The third enabler in the list is ‘Data Governance’. With increasing volumes of data coupled with regulatory compliance issues, the topic of Data Governance is very much in vogue, to the extent that anybody can look intelligent (beware!) by coining new terms like Data Clarity, Data Clairvoyance etc.

Data Governance at a very fundamental level is all about understanding the data generated by business, managing the quantity / quality of data and leveraging it to make sound business decisions for the future. From my view, the steps needed in a practical data governance program are:

1) Organizational entity, headed by a Chief Data Officer (CDO), whose task is to formulate and implement decisions related to Data Management across multiple dimensions, viz. Business Operations, Regulatory compliance etc.

2) Comprehensive understanding of the data ‘value chain’ – From the source of origination to its consumption. It is important to understand that the origination and / or consumption can also be outside the organizational boundaries.

3) Understand the types of data within the enterprise by following a ‘divide-and-conquer’ strategy. One of my previous posts on this blog illustrate one way of dividing data into ‘mutually exclusive collectively exhaustive’ (MECE) categories.

4) Profile data on a regular basis to statistically measure its quality.

5) Set-up a Business Intelligence infrastructure that effectively harnesses data assets for making decisions that affects (positively, of course!) the short, medium & long-term nature of business.

6) Continuous improvement program to ensure that data is optimally leveraged across all aspects of business. A data governance maturity model like the one illustrated here ,  can be envisaged for your organization.

Competing on Analytics – A classic Harvard Business Review article by Thomas Davenport illustrates the power of fact-based business decisioning. For businesses to realize that power, it is important to realize that good data is a source of competitive advantage and not ‘any’ data.

Data Governance is fundamental to making organizations better and that is the reason that it figures as number 3 in my list of ten enablers for BI Utopia. Informative articles on Data Governance are present at the following link.

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