Companies that share data can’t ignore governance

Vice President and Principal Analyst, Aberdeen

This is the second in a three-part blog series exploring a best-in-class approach to master data management (MDM). Read part one here.

Some people think of master data management (MDM) purely as a platform for organizing and mobilizing enterprise information. While this is true, leading companies view MDM more as a philosophy or a set of best practices, not just a suite of software tools. At the heart of this philosophy is the belief that companies need both an increased fluidity of data within the organization, as well as responsible oversight of that data.

The first part of this blog series examined how sharing data and improving accessibility to it set best-in-class approaches to MDM apart. However, as you will see in this post, increased data sharing and accessibility can be harmful without a judicious amount of data oversight.

At a minimum, companies need policies and procedures in place that govern who can access what data, to what extent a user can “write back” to a data source (if at all), and how accessibility is tracked and traced. Data governance is critical for maintaining the integrity of the data, for ensuring that there is only one version of the truth across the organization, and for making information consumable by analytical systems.

Aberdeen Group research clearly shows that best-in-class companies are more likely to have such policies and procedures in place.

Figure 1: Process and Technology Support for Data Governance

Best-in-class companies go a step further. Depending on the size, disparity and complexity of the data environment, keeping track of data rules and policies, and, frankly, simply maintaining a responsible level of oversight, can be challenging. The overwhelming majority — 92% — of best-in-class companies have some form of governance in place, of course; but, more than half of these top performers augment their policies and procedures with some form of supporting automation.

It’s easy to dismiss data governance as unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy, something that can only impede the decision process. However, when managed correctly, governance can have the opposite effect. In fact, a layer of governance technology allows best-in-class companies to manage and support an ever-growing and evolving number of user types. Where 10 years ago companies may have had two basic user types — IT and line-of-business — today, there is as wide a range of user types and user capabilities as there are analytics use cases. Governance technology needs to (and can) support and empower such user diversity.

With greater access to data, and more responsible oversight of their data environments, best-in-class companies are well positioned to extract true strategic value from their data and improve overall company performance. However, to unlock the ultimate power of data, there is one more key element of best-in-class MDM strategies. We’ll explore that in the final post of this series.

Click here to download the Aberdeen report, Modern MDM: The hub of enterprise data excellence.