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In 2008, over 500 participants completed an online data governance questionnaire designed to gauge the relative maturity level of companies as they investigate or implement data governance programs. The survey research validated that enterprise data governance is seen as high priority in the majority of companies who participated. It is also primarily a business led initiative that is still in its early stages. It is being driven by business demand for trusted business intelligence, compliance and risk mitigation instead of the normal incentive of improvements in commercial profitability.
It was also found that over half of the companies showing interest in data governance have already received sponsorship for their programs. However, funding for these programs is being sought under the guise of other initiatives such as larger data management and business intelligence (BI)/data warehousing programs or as part of master data management (MDM) projects as opposed to a stand-alone data governance program. In terms of data that businesses are seeking to govern, the focus is on structured data rather than unstructured data. Customer, product and financial data are especially seen as high priorities.
In terms of implementation, organisational structure is still not well established. Many companies have data stewards spread across their business units but they are only undertaking their data stewardship duties on an ad hoc or part time basis. Frameworks, policies and processes for data stewards are not in place. And less than a quarter of the companies surveyed responded that they have a data governance council in place to approve new data attributes or decommission data. The survey also found the establishment of data governance processes and policies is still in its early stages with around 25% of companies having these in place. A slightly higher percentage of companies already have software in place to get them started on a data governance program but these tools are generally stand-alone products rather than being part of an integrated suite of tools.
Finally even though the scope of data governance projects is restricted to a specific type of data (e.g. customer) there is clear evidence that data governance initiatives are still only being undertaken in specific departmental or line of business areas rather than being tackled on an enterprise-wide basis. The problem with this approach is that customer data for example (which was flagged as the highest priority by respondents participating in this survey) may appear in several data systems - front office CRM (sales, marketing and service), finance and in distribution. These systems are found in different departments and may often span several lines of business. The same is true for product data. If customer and product data is to be brought under control, doing so in one department or one line of business is not enough. This vision must be across the enterprise. Companies also need to establish strong backing from enterprise level executives if they are to drive an enterprise-wide data governance program.
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