Five Pillars of Data Governance Readiness: Team Resources

by Zak Cole       • April 12, 2018

The Facebook scandal has highlighted the need for organizations to understand and apply the five pillars of data governance readiness.

All eyes were on Mark Zuckerberg this week as he testified before the U.S. Senate and Congress on Facebook’s recent data drama.

A statement from Facebook indicates that the data snare was created due to permission settings leveraged by the Facebook-linked third-party app ‘thisisyourdigitallife.’

Although the method used by Cambridge Analytica to amass personal data from 87 million Facebook users didn’t constitute a “data breach,” it’s still a major data governance (DG) issue that is now creating more than a headache for the company.

The #DeleteFacebook movement is gaining momentum, not to mention the company’s stock dip.

With Facebook’s DG woes a mainstay in global news cycles, and the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) implementation just around the corner, organizations need to get DG-ready.

During the past few weeks, the erwin Expert Blog has been exploring the five pillars of data governance readiness. So far, we’ve covered initiative sponsorship and organizational support. Today, we talk team resources.

Facebook and the Data Governance Awakening

Most organizations lack the enterprise-level experience required to advance a data governance initiative.

This function may be called by another name (e.g., data management, information management, enterprise data management, etc.), a successful organization recognizes the need for managing data as an enterprise asset.

Data governance, as a foundational component of enterprise data management, would reside within such a group.

You would think an organization like Facebook would have this covered. However, it doesn’t appear that they did.

The reason Facebook is in hot water is because the platform allowed ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ to capture personal data from the Facebook friends of those who used the app, increasing the scope of the data snare by an order of magnitude.

Pillars of Data Governance; Facebook

For context, it took only 53 Australian ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ users to capture 310,000 Australian citizens’ data.

Facebook’s permission settings essentially enabled ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ users to consent on behalf of their friends. Had GDPR been in effect, Facebook would have been non-compliant.

Even so, the extent of the PR fallout demonstrates that regulatory compliance shouldn’t be the only driver for implementing data governance.

Understanding who has access to data and what that data can be used for is a key use case for data governance. This considered, it’s not difficult to imagine how a more robust DG program could have covered Facebook’s back.

Data governance is concerned with units of data – what are they used for, what are the associated risks, and what value do they have to the business? In addition, DG asks who is responsible for the data – who has access? And what is the data lineage?

It acts as the filter that makes data more discoverable to those who need it, while shutting out those without the required permissions.

The Five Pillars of Data Governance: #3 Team Resources

Data governance can’t be executed as a short-term fix. It must be an on-going, strategic initiative that the entire organization supports and is part of. But ideally, a fixed and formal data management group needs to oversee it.

As such, we consider team resources one of the key pillars of data governance readiness.

Data governance requires leadership with experience to ensure the initiative is a value-adding success, not the stifled, siloed programs associated with data governance of old (Data Governance 1.0).

Without experienced leadership, different arms of the organization will likely pull in different directions, undermining the uniformity of data that DG aims to introduce. If such experience doesn’t exist within the organization, then outside consultants should be tapped for their expertise.

As the main technical enabler of the practice, IT should be a key DG participant and even house the afore-mentioned data management group to oversee it. The key word here is “participant,” as the inclination to leave data governance to IT and IT alone has been a common reason for Data Governance 1.0’s struggles.

With good leadership, organizations can implement Data Governance 2.0: the collaborative, outcome-driven approach more suited to the data-driven business landscape. DG 2.0 avoids the pitfalls of its predecessor by expanding the practice beyond IT and traditional data stewards to make it an enterprise-wide responsibility.

By approaching data governance in this manner, organizations ensure those with a stake in data quality (e.g., anyone who uses data) are involved in its discovery, understanding, governance and socialization.

This leads to data with greater context, accuracy and trust. It also hastens decision-making and times to market, resulting in fewer bottlenecks in data analysis.

We refer to this collaborative approach to data governance as the enterprise data governance experience (EDGE).

Back to Facebook. If they had a more robust data governance program, the company could have discovered the data snare exploited by Cambridge Analytica and circumvented the entire scandal (and all its consequences).

But for data governance to be successful, organizations must consider team resources as well as enterprise data management methodology and delivery capability (we’ll cover the latter two in the coming weeks).

To determine your organization’s current state of data governance readiness, take the erwin DG RediChek.

To learn more about how to leverage data governance for GDPR compliance and an EDGE on the competition, click here.

Take the DG RediChek

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