The importance of data governance – An interview with Maria C Villar


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Recently, eLC instructor Maria C.Villar was interviewed about data quality and why it is important to marketers.

In this excerpt, used with permission, Maria discussions the distinctions between data management, governance, and quality, the role data stewardship plays in organizations today, and the value that data governance can bring to any organisation.

Learn more about Data Governance and Data Stewardship from Maria

How do you differentiate between Data Governance, Data Management, and Data Quality? Are the distinctions important?

There are various points of view on this particular topic, and I have had raging debates with some of my peers on this who think data quality is the overall program. However, I fundamentally believe that the overall program starts with establishing a comprehensive enterprise information strategy. Within that strategy, there are various capabilities that you’re trying to develop. Ultimately what you want to develop is high quality data. But in order to generate high quality data you need effective data management. So in other words, data quality is the outcome of effective data management.Data management, to me, is a combination of processes, tools, systems, and capabilities that you build inside of a company. When you put them all together, it creates highly reliable, high quality data. data governance then is just one part of your overall Information strategy. It’s a part of your program that is about establishing standards, policy, and the oversight to make that happen.So if you were to draw an umbrella, the overarching umbrella would be Information Management. Then within Information Management, you’ve got data governance, tools, and processes which work together to produce highly reliable, highly efficient, timely data of high quality. That’s a good way to think about it.

How do you differentiate between Information Management and Data Management? Is there really a difference?

I will not differentiate between information management and data management. Some experts will say one is of a higher order than the other. I don’t believe in that. I think they’re one in the same.Most people who are not immersed in it don’t know the difference either. If you ask a businessperson, “Is it data management or information management?” they’ll look at you like, “What are you even talking about? Why are we spending time on that topic?” It’s not a relevant topic for them.

What about Data Stewardship? What role does it play in the organization?

That’s really a good question. So data stewardship is under the category called ‘data governance.’ It’s really one of the key roles in a data governance program to drive accountability for data. So a data steward will be charged with some data topic. It could be a data steward for customer data. It could be a data steward for vendor data.Then that person is charged with driving all of the programs that need to be driven in order to produce high quality customer-vendor data. So if there are processes or systems that need to change, they would define the standards, to follow. For example: What are the mandatory fields? Or, what are the data quality criteria? A data steward is really the point person for that data topic in the company. It’s one of the best practice methods in our industry for establishing accountability for data in your company.Nothing happens if you don’t appoint somebody. That’s why a lot of times the chief data officer roles have governance under their umbrella. They assign these other responsibilities because someone needs to make it happen. That’s what the chief data officer does and that’s what the data steward does. They don’t do all the work, but they’re the lead people in charge that may build up the team and then get the work done across the company.

How does good Data Governance give a company a competitive advantage?

Good Data Governance is like water. It’s the pipe. It’s the electricity that runs every part of the company. So the more confidence you have in the underlined foundational data that you have, the faster you can make decisions and the faster you can really go after your customers with more information about them. But governance is really more than just technology. I think that’s an important point.It can be fundamental in getting closer to your customers, but also to efficiently running your company. If you don’t have to stop and fix data or endlessly search for information because it’s not where you need it when you need it. So there’s a lot of process efficiency and employee productivity that can be gained from this.Then on top of that, you have this whole new train of data called Big Data and Predictive Analytics. Those kinds of solutions really provide great insight to companies and great competitive advantage if used correctly. But at the core of it is this: Do you trust the data that is going in? Data Governance is about having confidence in your data. It’s really a fundamental way in which you guarantee your data is meeting your business requirement, and it’s a competitive advantage to just about any process that uses data.The converse is also true too, right? If you look at the statistics, the statistics tell you that about 40% of all business initiatives fail because of bad data.

The full interview, titled What is Data Quality and Why Should Marketers Care, originally appeared on the blog of Synthesis technology

Learn more from Maria

Course: Data Governance Fundamentals

Course: Data Stewardship Core

Course: Data Governance for Data Stewards

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2 thoughts on “The importance of data governance – An interview with Maria C Villar

  1. Thanks for publishing the interview Gary. It is always nice to hear the views of someone as accomplished as Maria. I especially liked the part about data stewards. In my experience, that is something that organizations miss out on. It generally doesn’t look like an important enough role to discuss in the initial stages of the project and is ultimately forgotten or ignored.

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