Water, or poison?

Imagwater or poisonine that you have had nothing to drink for a day or two.

Yo are offered a choice – three seemingly identical glasses of water.

Two glasses do, indeed, hold clean, refreshing water. The third has been contaminated with a tasteless, odourless poison,. It may not kill you, but it will do lasting damage.

Would you drink the water?

A trifle dramatic, I accept,

Yet, this is similar to the dilemma we face every time we access a new data source, or build a new report.

Will the new data be of better or worse quality than our existing sources?

Will we inadvertently pollute our trusted data with dirty data?

Governments and regulatory bodies are stepping in -regulations such as the Basel accords, Solvency II and Sarbanes Oxley seek to ensure trusted data for financial and roil reporting. Basel III, for example, requires banks to not only ensure the quality of underlying risk and customer data, but to ensure that the source and context of data is clearly defined and understood.

Why do we need regulations? because poor risk management and reporting practices have lead to multiple crises in the global financial markets. Companies are being forced to put in teh checks that should arguably have always been there.

Data issues do not just apply to reporting.

I have witnessed master data programs that have propagated bad data across the organisation – overwriting more trusted data sets with invalid and incorrect information.

Even data cleansing, if badly implemented, can make the situation worse.

Data governance builds an understanding of your data

Whether you are trying to exploit new data sources, to take advantage of advanced analytics or big data, or you are trying to consolidate your master data, data governance is the difference between improving the situation and making it worse.

Data governance brings business and IT stakeholders together to ensure a common understanding, to define and agree minimum standards, and to assess new data sets to understand the impact of technical decisions.

Data governance lets us know, to come back to my starting point, that glasses number 1 and 2 are safe, but glass 3 should be ignored.

It provides the context to create trust.

Companies that are looking to move forward, into the information age, must adopt data governance to suceed.

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