On Data Governance. Q&A with Dave Menninger

Q1. What are the main challenges enterprises face nowadays to effectively manage data privacy and security? 

I see two main challenges for organizations:

1) having a complete inventory of all the information under management and

2) managing downstream usage of the information. Data catalogs are helping address the inventory issue, but there are too many catalogs today creating data catalog silo issues. The catalogs also need to span data AND analytic processes. Your privacy and security policies are only as good as your weakest link. If downstream processes allow exports and emails of sensitive data, you’ve compromised all your other hard work.

Q2. Why is it so hard for organizations to ensure that business users have easy access to the data they need? 

There is so much data within organizations it’s difficult to know which pieces of data are available and which the right pieces of data for a specific analysis. Line of businesses users don’t necessarily understand the structure of databases and the relationships between data. Search provides a way to easily find information, but if the search results return dozens or hundreds of fields, how do the line of business users distinguish between them.

Q3. Do you think that data governance policies can inhibit access to data, making it harder to find and utilize the data assets of an organization? 

Data governance policies and practices based on rich catalogs that support collaboration throughout data and analytics processes are making it easier, not harder, to find and utilize data assets. If a rich set of metadata is captured including usage information and collaboration streams it can be used for machine learning-enhanced processes recommending which data may be most relevant. It also encourages participation in governance policies since it makes the data easier to find and utilize.

Q4. You have started a  new benchmark research, Trends in Data Governance.  Can you share with us some of the insights you have learned from this research? 

We don’t share insights until the research is completed, but we will be examining the data governance team’s mandate within the organization; how well or poorly it is performing and why; the challenges it faces; the role of people, processes, information and software in addressing those challenges. The research will investigate what types of organizations are interested in investing in improvements to data governance, why they are interested and, with respect to software and technology, who in the organization makes the purchase decisions, on what time frame and using what selection criteria. We hope to be able to share the results soon.

Qx Anything else you wish to add? 

I’ve tried to indicate above, that data governance needs to span both data AND analytics processes. These domains are often treated separately, but they need to be looked at much more holistically. Line of business personnel shouldn’t have to know whether a piece of information is “data” or it is the result of some analytic process. As an industry we need to do a better job dissolving that boundary.

Dave Menninger, SVP & Research Director, Ventana Research

David leads Ventana Research’s data and analytics practice. He has over three decades of experience and expertise helping organizations use data to improve their business processes and operations.


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