Survey Says Data Governance Is Important. But What Is Data Governance?

November 20, 2020

Here’s what the Google says governance means: The action or manner of governing. Okay, but what exactly is governing. Google says: Having authority to conduct the policy, actions, and affairs of a state, organization, or people.

Okay, now let’s add the magic word “data,” which is a plural, not a single thing. (That’s what datum means, right?)

Google says: Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.

Let’s put the information together, shall we?

An organization uses authority to conduct policy, actions and affairs to deal with facts and statistics for reference or analysis.

Why care? The answer is found in “Businesses Positive about Data Governance but Still Struggle with Privacy Concerns.”

Okay, now we have linked dealing with information and privacy. This is getting interesting or is it? I go with the “not interesting,” but let’s plod forward in the write up.

A vendor of search and retrieval software sponsored a research project conducted by Standard & Poor 451 Research. Note: That report is titled “Pathfinder Report Market Intelligence: Information Driven Compliance and Insight. Two Sides of the Same Coin.” I am not sure about the “coin” metaphor, compliance, insight, and pathfinding. But no one ever accused me of understanding mid-tier consulting firms, sponsored research, and 18 year old vendors of proprietary search and retrieval software.

The 451 outfit tapped its pool of “survey responders” and discovered:

72 percent of enterprises believe data governance is an enabler of business value rather than a cost center.

Okay, that’s a lot of enterprises, assuming the sample was statistically valid, the questions not shaped, and the data analysis of the survey responses was performed on the up and up. But sponsored research is different from the often wonky academic research churned out by professors and work-from-home students. That’s better, right? 

I learned:

  • One in four organizations have more than 50 distinct data silos
  • 37 per cent of respondents say having relevant information automatically displayed, when the team needs it, would benefit them the most in the pursuit of automation.
  • Budget, privacy issues, and expertise are barriers. 

How does one deal with data silos, which I assume is “governance”? How does one deal with security? Privacy? How does an enterprise search company cope with the assorted sixes and sevens of data in an organization; for example, tweets, encrypted messages, images, geospatial data, videos, and information which must be kept isolated from the grubby “let’s federate information” crowd? (Why must some data be isolated? Find an attorney. Ask her what happens if information in a legal matter is out of her span of control.)

What’s the net net of the mid-tier consulting outfit’s report? Here it is:

Success requires alignment of business objectives by looking for common-denominator requirements across business units.

Let me be clear: Enterprise search is not the solution to problems with an “authority to conduct policy, actions and affairs to deal with facts and statistics for reference or analysis.”

Enterprise search is information retrieval, data governance no matter how much a marketer wishes it were. Enterprise search vendors have been struggling for relevance because Lucene/Solr are good enough and users want information to address right now business issues. Library style lists of stuff to read or look up may not ring the chimes of a thumb typing user.

Want the full report? Go here. Please, keep marketing and governance separate. Statistics 101 offered some useful guidelines. Some, however, did not pay attention. You will have to register. Marketing is still marketing.

Stephen E Arnold, November 20, 2020

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