Data governance is a complicated landscape in the era of cloud operations, distributed systems, and remote work. According to a new paper from Forrester Research, “Data Governance Solutions Landscape Q4 2022,” governance offers so much more than simply compliance. It’s the key to driving real value from a company’s data assets. In this webinar, John Willis, field CTO at Alation, sat down with Forrester’s Raluca Alexandre to discuss how the data governance solutions landscape is shifting.
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Governance is undergoing its own transformation
In the old governance paradigm, it was primarily a regulatory compliance driver. These policies existed as a reactive model, helping organizations reduce risk in many ways. This was particularly true in highly regulated industries, but any organization in any industry could take this old style of approach to governance thinking.
Forrester sees governance shifting to a much more dynamic and positive position. Instead of focusing on what governance prevents, many organizations are shifting their thinking toward what governance can enable. It does help mitigate risk, but even more, it’s a positive driver for business value, creating confidence and trust in data that allows for data-driven decision-making and enables greater digital literacy.
Governance as a key enabler to becoming data-driven
The survey identifies governance solutions markets as established. Forrester believes there is still a lot of room for growth and maturity, but governance tools have evolved to add an extra layer that helps bring value and meet business outcomes.
The primary trend noted in the paper sees governance as a critical enabler for data-driven organizations. However, one of the biggest obstacles continues to be the limitations presented by corporate data governance strategies. A huge potential area is holistic governance tools, ones that put governance controls easily into administration hands.
Forrester also predicts that the percentage of organizations with a formal governance team will increase by 30% for 2023. In addition, one in four tech executives will report to their boards on AI governance. As more organizations formalize their governance strategies beyond simple regulatory compliance, this leads to more interesting and valuable applications.
The role of data literacy in data governance solutions
Traditional data governance perceptions didn’t include much consideration for data literacy and data culture. Forrester sees a clear connection between the two. In fact, it’s part of the fundamental governance conversation.
The compliance component isn’t going away. However, data literacy definitions have expanded to include a larger context of creation, adoption, and value creation. Data governance has bridged IT and business departments and the business rationale concerning governance changes. More people are willing to contribute to the conversation, and greater collaboration between departments has led to a broader understanding of what governance can offer a business.
Traditional components of governance provide a foundation. Risk mitigation, data quality, and data management will form the first step toward a comprehensive governance approach. However, these standards must move beyond this tier to create a true level of differentiation for companies.
The market asks for tools to manage big data
The Forrester paper sees significant demand for tools that can deliver real business value from large data volumes. Companies are inundated with data, and true governance can help companies make sense of data and, more importantly, trust that data to make faster, more efficient decisions. It might have been nice to see generated value a few years ago, but today, these long-term goals have made data a value-creating asset.
Corporations may define data products differently. In addition, companies are seeing the divergence between those producing data insights and those consuming those. If an organization can register a data product as authoritative and users can successfully access that data in time, this could signal that a dynamic governance policy is in place.
Even further, companies are shifting their perceptions of data access in general. They understand that users need access to data to perform tasks and make decisions. Instead of locking down data, companies want to move to a smart, iterative governance strategy that allows all stakeholders to access any data they need for appropriate queries.
How companies can grow governance into something sustainable
Governance roles have evolved from a layer under data management teams to standalone positions. This underlies the importance of taking a broader view of governance. Forrester strongly encourages companies to consider building collaborative positions that address governance issues and challenges and view governance strategies as a separate conversation from data management strategies alone.
Governance strategies are also expanding. Some examples are:
Forrester recommends taking a look at existing strategies and roles related to governance and creating a unique use case that places business value at the forefront. Companies don’t need a specific list of roles to create and scale governance policies; instead, they should focus on their organization’s unique needs.
It’s all about finding the right balance between business and IT and fostering collaboration to bring expertise from both into governance policies. In addition, some measure of automation can help teams manage complex governance strategies. AI could be a transformative method for increasing trust in data. Connecting it to governance policies and data products will transform how companies interact with their data.
What’s the best first step toward adopting a new view of governance
From a Forrester perspective, starting with the questions in their data maturity assessment could give companies the first few actionable steps. It allows companies to clearly assess themselves and understand where they stand in their data strategies.
Whether companies follow the Forrester model or choose another route, taking this first look at where their company stands is key. As they create their subsequent governance policies, this will allow them to collaborate and place business interests at the forefront.
Data governance solutions enable trustworthy, on-demand data
Companies increasingly want to automate policy compliance so that it flows along with business use cases. They understand that compliance forms a key component of governance, but they also realize that governance can no longer slow down the flow of data. Data governance solutions are continuously evolving and will soon be a critical part driving business value.
As companies reimagine their governance strategies to facilitate business ability, they may not yet understand how to get users to actually adopt those data assets. Data literacy is a significant part of providing a fresh take on governance strategies. If companies can create a company culture of data usage, they could finally overcome the governance hurdle.
Elizabeth Wallace is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for data science and AI and a background in linguistics. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain – clearly – what it is they do.