How a Data Governance Program Helps You Take Control of Your Company Data

According to the 2017 Data Genomics Index, the amount of data grew at a rate of 48.7 percent in 2017. That means we’re close to doubling the number of files created every two years. However, one-third of all stored data hasn’t been modified in three years, and 9 percent hasn’t been modified in seven years. It’s stale but taking up valuable storage capacity.

The Global Databerg Report found that more than half (52 percent) of all stored data is considered dark data, which means the value of the data is unknown. Another one-third is considered useless ROT (redundant, obsolete or trivial) data. Just 15 percent is classified as business-critical information.

Researchers have concluded that, as data volumes explode, many organizations have become data hoarders. Rather than trying to figure out what data must be saved and what can be destroyed, these organizations just hold onto everything to stay out of trouble.

But new regulations say this approach is unacceptable. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of rules that governs how the data of European Union residents must be handled and protected, calls for organizations to minimize the data retention periods and automate the deletion of data.

Also, even though the cloud provides virtually unlimited storage capacity, the cloud isn’t free. And because most data isn’t being managed, it could be stolen or exposed to unauthorized parties without anyone knowing it.

How can organizations maintain visibility into their data, ensure security, reduce ROT data and comply with strict regulations? Implement a data governance program.

What Is Data Governance?

Data governance is a management strategy that ensures data availability, usability, integrity, and security. Typically managed by a governing body or council within a company, a data governance program includes policies and procedures for:

  • Data storage, archival, backup, security, and disposal.
  • Data stewardship, which involves identifying the owners of all data assets and who is responsible for making sure data is accurate, current, complete and accessible.
  • Identification of users who are authorized to access data and for what purpose.
  • Proper use of data.
  • Compliance with industry and government regulations.
  • Data loss prevention policies and software that are used to control and protect sensitive data and detect a potential breach.

Why Data Governance Is Important

Data is widely recognized as the most valuable business asset. Data is key to improving operational efficiency and productivity, optimizing the customer experience, reducing time to market with innovative products, and increasing profits. Companies need consistent, trustworthy data to make smart business decisions.

In addition to regulatory compliance, data governance is critical to successful mergers and acquisitions, business process improvement, risk management, IT modernization, and data analytics.

For example, how could you sell your company if your data is inaccurate, outdated and unprotected? How can you optimize business processes if the data involved in those processes isn’t properly stored and managed? How can you manage risk if your data can’t tell you with any degree of certainty what the current level of risk is?

Data governance is critical to eliminating confusion and disputes about where your data is, who is managing it, how it’s being used and protected. It ensures that you have a single, secure version of the truth.

Keys to Developing a Data Governance Program

Building a framework for data governance can take weeks, if not months, and requires careful planning. The first step is to identify who will be responsible for creating and enforcing data governance policies, identifying data owners, and making sure security and compliance controls are in place.

Next, define your goals and prioritize areas for improvement. What do you need to achieve? What problems need to be solved? The business side and the technology side must come together to ensure that the needs of both are aligned and addressed. Then you can create roles, responsibilities and usage rules for various types of data.

Technology will help you automatically classify all types of data, from databases and text files to emails and social media content. The right data governance technology will also help you reduce risk and make better decisions about data retention and deletion. These decisions are based on the data’s business value, as well as compliance and discovery requirements.

We recommend taking control of your data sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more obstacles you’ll need to overcome. Speak with data governance consultants and technology providers to determine the best way to implement a program that helps you control and protect your organization’s most valuable asset.

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