Doom and gloom. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. The “stick” versus the “carrot”. What do these concepts have in common? They have often provided the primary motivation for organizations’ data governance and security strategies. For the enterprise, this mindset has perpetuated the idea that data governance, data security and data privacy are reactive cost centers existing due to externally imposed requirements or mandates.

Yet, what if data governance and security practices could upend the prevailing paradigm and demonstrate direct business value?

An opportunity awaits

Today’s savvy organizations are rapidly approaching this reality. In particular, data governance practices can facilitate safe, rapid and effective leverage of business data. In S&P Global Market Intelligence’s 451 Research survey data, the top enterprise benefits of data governance programs are actually not tethered to regulatory compliance or other “reactive” requirements. They are linked to outcomes that drive value for the business: higher quality of data/insight and faster access to relevant data.

How Data Governance Initiatives Have Added Value to Organizations

Q. How have data governance initiatives added value to your organization, if at all? Please select all that apply. Base: Respondents who are familiar with their organization’s data governance and/or privacy practices (n=293).

Source: 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Data & Analytics, Data Governance & Privacy 2022.

Data governance is a foundational set of practices and technology that underpin a plethora of data-driven outcomes. These include supporting the “reactive” needs of the organization — such as mandated compliance and security requirements — and more “proactive” desires, such as data science and self-service analytics. The fundamental ability to understand and control the organization’s data at a granular level meets the needs of multiple business stakeholders. The cultural challenge, of course, is getting these stakeholders aligned.

Why can’t we be friends?

The teams responsible for data protection and security have often been pitted against the teams that want to leverage data for business insight. This conflict is unsustainable when the business needs maximum agility to respond to volatile market conditions and unexpected competitive pressures. In fact, the alignment of internal objectives and incentives is an opportunity to accelerate outcomes for the business.

For example, when we look at the barriers to becoming more data-driven as a business, we see many interdependent pain points. In 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise 2022 survey on data-driven practices, top technical barriers include data quality and consistency (35%), data security (30%), data privacy (28%) and integration of legacy data sources and architecture (24%). Firm underlying control of enterprise data is needed to alleviate these pain points, which emphasizes the critical role of data governance and data security in becoming more data-driven.

Functions of data governance, data security and data privacy are becoming increasingly interdependent within the enterprise. Stakeholder communication and collaboration are critical. But in many cases, there is a counterproductive feedback loop inhibiting this critical cultural alignment. Siloed technology often obstructs meaningful interdisciplinary collaboration, which prevents the adoption of more unified supporting technologies. In this sense, both automation and integration should be key areas of technological focus for today’s businesses. Now is the time for change, as many organizations risk falling behind in their data governance and security efforts.

Once the organization understands that data is a valuable enterprise-wide resource to be effectively managed and appropriately protected, all stakeholders can align with the value of data governance and benefit equally from its effective implementation.

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