Around 2016, the modern data stack went mainstream. This refers to a collection of technologies, tools, and capabilities that help businesses today store, manage, and use their data. These tools are unified by three key ideas:
- Self-service data analytics
- “Agile” data management
- Cloud-first and cloud-native
Even though the modern data stack has made it easier to ingest and transform data, governance has become one of the biggest barriers in the path of true data democratization.
In this article, let us explore the benefits of having a robust data governance program in your organization.
What are the benefits of data governance?
Broadly, data governance benefits organizations by:
- Setting standards for data quality — accuracy, consistency, timeliness, and completeness of data assets
- Setting data access control policies and a program for recurrent monitoring of quality, security, and privacy checks.
- Helping reduce the risk of major disruptions exposing data
- Defining data retention and data deletion policies.
- Enables data assets to be auditable across the entire lifecycle and therefore be in compliance with data protection laws and regulations
- Improves consistency and confidence in risk assessment and business decision-making and thereby maximizing the ROI of your data assets.
Organizations working with copious amounts of data understand that data governance is no longer good to have, it's a must-have. But are they really maximizing the true potential of data governance? The real benefits of data governance can truly be unlocked once you understand the genesis of data governance, and what it's really meant to do.
What is data governance?
Before delving deeper into the benefits of data governance, let's have a quick refresher of the concept:
According to Gartner:
“Data governance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to ensure the appropriate behaviour in the valuation, creation, consumption, and control of data and analytics.”
Here's a simpler way to understand: Data governance is simply about deciding how to decide. It's a set of policies, processes, and standards to collect, manage, and store data for better decision-making.
Read more about what is data governance and why is it important?
Why data governance?
Why is governance necessary? Because it ensures that we act in the best interest of everyone.
Be it regions, countries, businesses, or data - in its essence governance ensures that equitable solutions are met to everyone, everyone's rights are upheld. This is what most of us forget, because conventionally data governance comes with the baggage of being seen as strict rules that are dealt top-down with a heavy hand. Something that inherently pronounces control and not privilege.
Data governance needs to go through a renaissance, it needs a paradigm shift at multiple levels.
Here's a great blog that talks about how changing the narrative around data governance will help answer the why of data governance much better, and will get seamless buy-in from everyone in the organization.
Fundamentally, data governance ensures effective collaboration and data democratization
4 key benefits of data governance
Following are the 4 key benefits of data governance:
- Enables true data democratization
- Builds effective collaboration between teams
- Protects the integrity and relevance of data
- Helps comply with data protection laws and regulations
Let's understand these benefits of data governance, and how they help data teams work better together:
Benefit #1 — Enables true data democratization
Everyone has a right to data that will help them make better decisions. Data governance ensures that you can uphold that right, without compromising on data security. With the right modern data governance platforms you can create granular and customized tag-based access policies. Examples of tags include business-related metadata, technical metadata, or even security classifications. Such a system also ensures being transparent about how decisions are taken regarding which team member has access to certain data and who doesn't.
Benefit #2 — Builds effective collaboration between teams
Having a clear understanding of who should have access to data and who shouldn't, also reduces the friction between diverse data practitioners existing in same or different teams. For e.g. A person looking at a restricted data asset knows who owns it, and can quickly request access with the click of a button. Also, if a particular data is publicly discoverable, no matter if it's in a different domain, a data user doesn't need to wait for days for IT to give them access to that data or domain experts to relay what that data actually means.
Benefit #3 — Protects the integrity and relevance of data
For data to really be the bedrock of impactful decisions it must be relevant, of high quality and accurate, trustworthy, and easy to use. Data governance ensures the following by employing:
- Tracking and managing of all data in an organization with help of data catalogs
- Creating business glossaries for ease of understanding of this data
- Setting up data lineage to enable root-cause analysis and impact analysis
- Management of data access via established and communicated policies
Benefit #4 — Helps comply with data protection laws and regulations
Last but not the least, the reason why most organizations start thinking about data governance - is to comply with data protection laws and regulations. Even a minor infringement of GDPR or CCPA regulations can cost an organization a fortune. Good data governance tools and processes ensure automated compliance with such regulations and laws. They create universal guidance to structured creation, storage, and deletion of data.
The benefits of data governance are endless if implemented well. With the rate at which data consumption and usage are exploding around us, organizations will benefit from having data governance at the heart of their data management principles and not as an afterthought or as a part of the checklist.
Ready to make data governance effortless?
Try Atlan — Deploy best-in-class, catalog, metadata management, and data governance without compromising on data democratization.
Related reads on data governance benefits
- What Is data governance & why does it matter?
- The importance of a data governance framework
- 8 data governance best practices to help you get started in 2022
- What is the difference between data governance and data management?