Data governance and data democratisation

What is data governance?

Data governance deals with the establishment of processes, procedures and roles in a company. Where is the data located? Who does it belong to? Who should access it and how? These are just a few questions that require proper data management. The goal of data governance is to ensure that the data within a company is trustworthy, findable, usable and consistent.

Data governance can also help enable the democratisation of data, which refers to making data available to a broad base of users within an organisation. The goal of expanding the user base for data within a company is to make the company culture more data-oriented and to let everyone use the power of data.

Traditionally, data resides in silos that belong to a specific department in an organisation, making it difficult to access data across departments. In addition, access to data held in Databases stored is difficult from a technical perspective for the average layperson. By establishing clear policies and procedures on how data should be accessed, data governance can break down these barriers to data democratisation. 

What is Data Democratisation?

Data democratisation is the idea that organisations work better when data can be used by as many employees as possible. It relies heavily on training all employees and providing them with the right tools to use self-service analytics. 

Examples

Data governance ensures that data is better protected, trusted, discoverable, usable and understandable, while data democratisation ensures that the utilisation of data is spread throughout the organisation. Both disciplines can strongly support each other and increase the value of data exponentially. 

Data governance is the discipline of managing data to ensure that it can be (re)used by people in the organisation in an effective and compliant way. Although the goal of data governance is quite clear and the description of data governance is similar across organisations, the way to implement data governance to achieve the goal is much less obvious. Thus, the way data governance is implemented can vary greatly from company to company.

Simple implementations may include some basic rules for how data is documented, managed and shared that are followed across the organisation. Complex data governance programmes may involve establishing new roles and responsibilities within the organisation, setting up governance committees or steering groups, training staff across the organisation and implementing new processes and tools to support data governance. The benefits of data governance can be many. They typically include: 

  • Reducing negative business impacts resulting from poor data quality  
  • Increased confidence in using data from other departments for innovation and process improvements  
  • Higher data compliance through better controls  
  • Partially significant efficiency gains in the use of data, as the user can find and understand the data more quickly  

It does not work without

Without data governance, however, there is a risk of chaos, as no one really knows what is in the data and synergies between data users are difficult to realise. Each user has to take care of the data quality separately and cannot trust the data of others. 

In a data-driven organisation, employees use data from different parts of the company to improve their daily work. Data democratisation is the idea that an organisation works better when as many employees as possible can use data from across the organisation. One element of data democratisation is ensuring that data is available for others to use, and this is where data governance can help.

Another element is to provide tools that allow data to be easily processed, combined, transformed and visualised by non-experts, e.g. self-service BI and dashboarding tools and easy-to-use data science tools that work on a drag-and-drop basis. 

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