Big Data Quality: Certify or Govern?

We've been having an intersting conversation with clients and internally about the baggage associated with Data Governance.  As much as we (the data people) try, the business thinks it is a necessary, but the commitment, participation, and application of it is considered a burden worth avoiding.  They wonder, "Is this really helping me?"  Even CIOs roll their eyes and have to be chased down when the data governance topic comes up.  They can't even sell it to the business.  

So, the question came up - Do we need to rebrand this? Or worse, do you abandon data governance?

Well, I don't know that I'm convinced that Data Governance needs a new name or brand.  And, with regulatory and security risks it can't be abandoned.  However, what organizaitons need is a framework that is business oriented, not data oriented.  Today, Data Governance is still stuck in the data, even with strong business participation.

Big data is the catalyst.  If you thought your data was challenging before, chaos and messiness takes on a whole other meaning with big data.  Scale now forces us to rethink what we govern, how we govern, and yes, if we govern.  This is to both better manage and govern process-wise, but it also drives us to ask the questions we didn't ask before. Questions about meeting expectations for data over meeting expectations to fit data into systems.

What this means...orient data governance toward data certification.

This is important becasue with data certification you create a seal of approval on the delivered data (reports, dashboards, insights, segments, etc.).  Using the end state of data as the means to create data policies means that data policies and rules for data in systems is in sync with business expectations.  It focuses data governance and makes it effective and meaningful.  For example, when a pharmaceutical company shares data and reports, scientists and business decision makers can see what reports are liked, shared, and frequently read.  This tells the seeker of data and information what is useful and can be trusted because it was vetted by trusted peers.  IT can take this information and infer what data sources are trusted, what data is important, and how it needs to conform to quality standards.  

Data certification isn't just a big data thing, but big data forces us toward a business guided data governance program that answers for the business, "This is what's in it for you."

Read more at Forrester.com:  Big Data Quality: Garbage In, Gold Out.

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