Data Governance Trends and Predictions for 2017

Will 2017 finally be the year that Data Governance fully transitions from board room concept, into the valuable, strategic and operational asset that most organizations strive for?

Jeff ShortisMarch 16, 2017

As we finish the first quarter of a new year, many industries take the opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished, while forecasting forward into what the future may hold. Data Governance being no different, has gained a lot of exposure, recognition and maturity in last year.

In the following paragraphs, we will share some of our observations and insights on the current state of the data governance industry and make predictions on how this industry will change in 2017.

Organizations on the Leading Edge of Data Governance will “Catch More Fish”

Without doubt, data governance has made considerable progress in 2016.  Yet, having been widely discussed and with some elements of a data governance program being implemented, many organizations still struggle with the articulation of the ROI from their data governance investments.

From my experience, I believe the value of data governance can best be described with a fishing metaphor.  My son and I are avid fisherman, but in the past, have suffered from a lack of organizational skills, as such, our tackle box typically resembles a tangled web of lures and hooks.  Nothing is more frustrating to a fisherman than the inability to quickly find and tie on the right tackle when the bite is on!  Learning from our experiences, we committed to appropriately and systematically organizing our tackle box, in essence to effectively manage our equipment. The result of which was a lot more time in the water and a record year catching fish.

Putting a data spin on this, having well defined and organized data means having the right data at the right time to resolve and align with business goals.  Instead of spending endless hours searching for data or trying to assess its quality, having that information at your fingertips just when you need it.  The value of an organized data governance program can be summed up in 3 words – ‘Catch more fish.”

Data Privacy – The convergence of Governance, Risk and Compliance

Personal information is becoming a hot topic globally and the need to effectively manage this data-set will make data governance a top priority for most organizations in 2017.  As the business-enabling need for effective data governance capabilities bleed into the compliance and risk management functions, we will see many overlaps culminating in the convergence of these requirements across these trio of business areas.

In addition to personal information classification, data privacy has also been to the forefront in recent headlines, with security breaches occurring within various search engines, corporations, and even the government.  Numerous fines resulting from HIPAA violations within the healthcare industry, and a US election fraught with confidential data and security issues.  In response to these types of issues, the Global Data Protection Act (GDPR) has been enacted in Europe with strict data privacy requirements, heavy fines and a rapidly approaching compliance date of May 2018.   Many organizations today have a global footprint, so the regulatory effect of an act in one geographic location tends to have wide spread impacts across other regions.

Data privacy is serious business and compliance with the new requirements can only be met with effective data governance providing the transparency into data definitions, responsibilities, locations of storage and data policies such as information access, retention and destruction policies.  The nature of these requirements and the negative effects of non-compliance, from both a financial and reputational perspective, will unite the goals of the Chief Data Officer with that of the Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Risk Officer and finally provide data governance with the teeth needed to truly impact the culture of the organization.

Data Governance Teams Become Agile for Better Alignment with Strategic Business Priorities

After years of ambiguous expectations by the business about data governance, organizations are getting a better handle of what data governance really is and more importantly what is the “best fit” for integration and alignment with the organizations culture as well as both business and technology goals. This agile and iterative approach requires a new type of tooling which can be owned and customized by the data governance team with minimal reliance on IT resources.

Having experienced large upfront investments made in Master Data Management(MDM) and Data Warehouse(DWH) initiatives, these large technology-driven data governance projects will be fewer and farther between.  We see broader business participation and responsibility as they begin to ‘own’ the data and, hence, the governance program and platform as well.  This will lead businesses to adopt a lower cost, pay as you go model vs. large up-front expenditures for their data governance “solution”.

As the business becomes more familiar with data governance solutioning, there will be a focus on delivering more metrics around the governed data including governance metrics, data quality and issue management metrics.  Further maturity will see metrics around collaboration, sentiment and engagement management.

Data Governance Will Become the “Front Runner” for Master Data Management, Data Quality, and Data Warehouses

Because of lessons learned from large investments in MDM, Quality, and Data Warehouse implementations, data governance emerges to the forefront to ensure that data is well understood, prioritized, knowledge captured and catalogued upfront as part of these data initiatives (versus after-the-fact).  Leading with governance provides the perfect introduction of the business into the broader enterprise data management world, removing the stigma associated with MDM, BI, DWH or other big initiatives, while providing the collaboration platform to engage, collaborate and resolve the various responsibilities around data.

Involving the business early and often and at the right level of insulation from the technical implementation ensures the business “has skin in the game”, can influence direction and keeps the business strategy and goals “en pointe” within any large scale technical initiative. 

Solution Providers, Data Vendors, and Consultancies Will Focus on Their Data Governance Story

Across the spectrum, external vendors have become aware of the criticality of data governance to an organization and in 2017 they will look to place a stake in the ground regarding their fit within the data governance story.  In some cases, this will be by providing packaged interfaces to data governance solutions while in others it will be to build some fit for purpose capabilities within the vendor solutions themselves.

The ability for vendors to provide lift to data governance initiatives will become a differentiation in vendor selection.  The market should expect to see numerous partnerships in the data governance space and new enabling services from new providers.

As the business takes more ownership of the data governance program, fully automated integration amongst providers across the data management landscape will become a key ingredient. Out of the box capabilities, connectors and workflows will have to be easy to understand, have minimal configuration and be able to ingest the information that is important to both the business and technology resources.

As we move into a new year, the need for data governance will grow based on both internal and external influences.  Organizations will move further out of the conceptual state and start to show meaningful metrics for what well-managed and transparent data can offer.

As the market matures, companies will be able to leverage both experienced internal and specialist external resources to frame out and maintain an optimal program that fits their specific scope, culture and capabilities, automated where possible, and driven by the business with the goal of being able to “catch more fish”.