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Why should you bother with big data governance?

Product Marketing Manager - InfoSphere, IBM

We don’t have to look back too far to recall a time when more data meant more value. Businesses wanted more information about their customers, their products and their markets to support decisions. Today we want even more data, but then we move into an unsettling terrain where more data doesn’t mean more trust. In fact, it’s often the opposite—the 3Vs of data weigh down and inhibit Veracity or trust.

Old versus new aproach

In the traditional approach, data was governed as it was discovered or brought into the enterprise. It was very much a waterfall approach: integrate data and govern it to the highest required standard, load it to a central repository and then use it. This process was slow and, by default, all data was elevated to the highest level of governance. The new big data approach to governance is all about agility. It’s about profiling the data, understanding what it will be used for and then determining the required level of governance. By applying agile data governance organizations can ensure appropriate controls without inhibiting the speed and flexibility of innovative big data approaches and technologies.

In many cases, data doesn’t need to be perfect. One example is social media analytics to determine customer retention offers. What’s the downside of being incorrect about a customer’s identity? Perhaps making the wrong offer? It’s not desirable, but it’s also not fatal. Therefore, a low to moderate effort is required for matching. But there’s one critical aspect of governance that applies to all scenarios and use cases, and that is discovering and understanding the data before it’s used. 

Security concerns

In addition to the data veracity problem, big data also poses security risks. Too much data with too many vulnerabilities can be catastrophic. A major retail chain spent over $200 million just to replace charge cards after a cyberhacking incident. Such losses to income and reputation are acute but avoidable. A comprehensive data governance solution ensures that organizations not only protect their information assets but also their customers.

Governed data is reliable, secure and ready to use, while data from an ungoverned terrain has little value for big data analytics and operations. 1.8 trillion gigabytes of information is available in today’s digital world for those who are truly prepared to leverage this as an opportunity to significantly improve organizational decision making. Are you ready?

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