Why Data Governance Should Be A Team Sport

    Last updated: May 13, 2024

    Wondering how to unlock the full potential of your audience data? Are you struggling to institute the organizational culture you need to keep your audience data safe?

    To help you address these issues, Bettina Lindner Lippisch, Omeda’s VP of Privacy and Data Governance, has created a multi-post series on how to create a data governance program that protects your business and helps drive results. In this post, she focuses on the importance of collaboration in building a privacy-first culture. Read on to learn more:

    The amount of information, knowledge, and data an organization collects, stores and processes in today’s digital world is nothing short of a flood, overwhelming those trying to keep up with the constant flow. In addition, rapidly evolving technologies, like generative AI, further speed up the amount of data in circulation, raising not only the volumes and velocity, but also the need for organizations to quickly understand how these new data sources affect their data strategy.

    Upgrade your privacy game: Watch the webinar with our VP who shares crucial security insights:

    Why Data Governance Should Be a Team Sport

    Data stewardship is a shared responsibility

    For most companies, data has long been the foundation of decision-making, strategy development, and innovation, but data also introduces greater responsibilities on an organization when it comes to to privacy, security, and compliance requirements, which can further heighten risk across all levels of an organization.

    To make sure that the data owned or managed by an organization is used to its fullest potential, and in compliance with all legal and organizational rules and policies, the need for a data governance practice comes into play, and it’s not an isolated, one-size-fits-all approach. Establishing a robust data governance program needs to be a team sport, requiring significant collaboration across various disciplines within your organization. Let’s take a look at why interdisciplinary collaboration is paramount in creating a solid data governance program.

    Data Strategy does NOT equal IT Strategy

    Often, the assumption is that data governance is “just” an IT or data team’s responsibility, when instead, it’s a collective effort that spans across the entire organization. IT and technical teams are a critical partner to the data governance function, as they often are the ones managing and maintaining the data repositories, infrastructure and processes, but they are only one of many relevant stakeholders involved.

    It is easy to envision that technical teams are the first ones to we think off when thinking “data”, since they are most likely the ones responsible for managing access, classifying and standardizing data for the larger organization, including Master Data Management (MDM), data contracts, integrations, enterprise software management, etc., So yes, much of understanding the types and sources of data used has to start with the technical teams who have probably the most internal views.

    Technology is just the start

    But Technology and IT is not where data governance collaboration should end: The following considerations explain why your data governance strategy can’t be executed in any silo, but instead should be a collaborative process led by a Data Governance program/leader:

    1. Understand Your Data Holistically: Different departments bring diverse perspectives to the table: Legal, compliance, operations, IT, marketing, sales and finance all have unique insights into their own data usage, challenges and requirements. Collaborating with each of these teams ensures that the data governance strategy is comprehensive and considers all relevant aspects. It will also help you to understand how data and processes intersect across your organization.
    2. Incorporate Compliance and Risk Management: Regulatory landscapes are ever evolving. Collaboration with legal and compliance teams helps ensure that your data governance program is not only current, but also in alignment with data protection laws, reducing the risk of costly fines and legal issues.
    3. Ensure Data Quality and Accuracy: Operations and Technology/Data teams have valuable insights into data quality issues that affect day-to-day business processes and profitability. Engaging with them can lead to better data cleansing and validation practices, ultimately improving data accuracy and trust in the data.
    4. Reduce Risk with Privacy and Security Partnerships: IT, privacy and cybersecurity teams are instrumental in safeguarding data. By collaborating closely with them, you can implement robust security measures and ensure that sensitive information is adequately protected, reducing the likelihood of data breaches and privacy harms.
    5. Create Alignment with Business Objectives: Business leaders understand the strategic goals of your organization. Collaborating with them helps tailor data governance initiatives to align with their objectives, making data a strategic asset rather than a burden.
    6. Foster Effective Communication: Collaboration fosters better communication. This is essential for creating data governance policies, standards, and procedures that are clear and accessible to all employees, ensuring everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, as well as the “why” behind them. Think of your data strategy as a “product” that needs its own marketing plan.
    7. Create a Data-First Culture: Building a data-centric culture among all employees, partners and vendors is crucial for the success of data governance. Collaboration across all of your company’s disciplines can help create awareness and promote a culture where data is valued, respected, and leveraged for informed decision-making.
    8. Optimize & Align Resources: Pooling resources from various departments under shared strategic and operational goals allows for efficient allocation of time, budget, and expertise, preventing duplication of efforts and reducing costs associated with data governance.
    9. Work towards Scalability: As your organization grows, so does your data. Collaboration ensures that your data governance program can scale with your business, better anticipating and adapting to new challenges and opportunities.

    Breaking down the silos

    To summarize, data governance is not an isolated function but an organization-wide endeavor which should be approached as a wholistic responsibility, rather than a “department” or a “function”. Collaborating across different disciplines empowers organizations to build a robust, adaptive, and effective data governance program that serve both, strategy and business goals effectively.

    By tapping into the diverse expertise available in your organization, you can navigate the complexities of data management, compliance, and security with confidence. So, go ahead, break down those silos, bridge gaps, and collaborate to harness the full potential of your data assets. Together with others at your organization, you can build a data-driven future that propels our organizations to new heights.

    How to get started?

    Part 2 of this data governance series for hands-on tips on how to kick off a successful cross-functional collaboration for your data governance program or practice at your organization.

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