The Importance of Effective Big Data Governance

About 175 zettabytes of big data are expected to exist by 2025. When companies attempt to collect, organize and analyze such vast quantities of data, it becomes a challenge to manage big data. Governing big data ensures a company ethically collects and uses data by creating a set of rules that must be followed. Data governance also implements processes that make it easier for companies to utilize the data they collect more efficiently.

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Why Big Data Governance Is Needed

If your company collects data, it’s important to establish data governance protocols or a strict set of principles and procedures that you and all employees follow when interacting with this data. With an effective data governance plan in place, it’s easier to follow data collection laws, keep your data organized and analyze what you’ve collected.

Big data governance is an important component for businesses that collect data because when proper procedures are in place, analysis is more effective and less labor intensive. If businesses are using their money, time and dedication to collect data they can’t analyze correctly, it’s a waste of resources.

When data governance principles are laid out, they ensure the business follows all laws related to data collection and use. This saves the company money because it’s less likely to be fined for noncompliance. It also limits security risks and minimizes the potential for a data breach, which can ruin a brand’s reputation and trustworthiness

Big Data Governance Challenges

While big data governance is an important component to a company’s efficiency, implementing the right plan is complicated. There are obstacles businesses may face when developing data governance guidelines.

Costs of Data Governance

To implement a data governance plan that addresses potential data issues your company faces, you’ll need to dedicate resources and time. Depending on the size of your business and the data it collects, you may need staff dedicated entirely to implementing your governance plan.

While your organization may need to invest its time, money and resources into a data governance plan, a successful plan can help recoup this investment. When an effective plan is put in place, your company has high-quality data that is organized efficiently so it can be used to streamline business processes and identify consumer needs.

Earning Buy-In From Stakeholders

When you discuss a data governance plan with stakeholders, you may receive some pushback. Integrating data governance measures may seem too expensive to shareholders who are only concerned with profit and the bottom line.

It’s important to explain how data governance increases profitability and business growth over time. Access to organized data that can easily be used to make informed decisions about the future of the company is paramount. With governance policies in place, the company can play by the rules while interpreting important data quickly.

Insufficient Data Documentation

It can be tough for companies to establish efficient data governance because they must determine their scope. Data governance involves figuring out the right amount of data that’s needed and which types of data the company should analyze. Determining the value of certain pieces of data is a challenge and requires assistance from workers in all facets of the organization.

Drilling down into the details of collected data and analyzing specific components to determine what’s useful and what’s not is at the root of a solid data governance policy. Documenting the data itself, called metadata, is also important.

According to TechTarget, “An organization that implements a data governance program without addressing metadata management will be unsuccessful because many of the activities and tasks carried out by data stewards are focused on metadata and the process of managing it.” Identifying the metadata your company needs will help you establish a personalized data governance plan.

Managing Both Structured and Unstructured Data

Your company may collect both structured and unstructured data. Structured data is data that’s highly organized, making it easily searchable and simple to analyze. Unstructured data is a collection of different data components that isn’t organized and cannot be easily analyzed.

For example, you may collect information on how many website visitors clicked through from an email, which is structured data. Your company may also collect information on how consumers interacted with your business’s social media page through shared posts, tags or photos, which is unstructured data.

In most cases, structured and unstructured data are collected in different databases, making it impossible for these components to interact with each other. If your company needs to analyze both types of data simultaneously, it can pose a problem. Not only is data governance important to organize unstructured data, but it must also be used to address how your different types of data will come together to provide your company with important information.

Best Practices When Creating a Strategy for Big Data Governance

When creating a big data governance plan for your company, the steps you need to follow may be unique to your business, the laws that apply to your industry, data analysis tools you have access to, and your company’s needs. However, in most cases, you’ll need to:

  • Implement methods to validate data: Your data governance plan should include checks and balances that ensure the data you’re collecting is legal and accurate. If your data collection methods aren’t precise, the data you gather doesn’t matter because it won’t provide you with precise information.
  • Establish communication channels before using data: Workers throughout the company must be aware of data usage laws and consumer rights through your data governance policy. Open communication about data between departments and workers ensures data is used correctly and legally.
  • Establish internal roles for data use: The correct public use of data and the ways this data is used in the company are crucial. If you have a data architect or data management employee, ask them to help establish policies for internal data use that all workers must abide by.
  • Integrate compliance requirements for data access: Anybody in your company who has access to data should be aware of compliance laws. Your data governance plan should address these requirements to ensure data is being collected, accessed, analyzed and used properly.
  • Invest in cybersecurity and risk management: The security of your data is important, so your data governance policy should include adequate cybersecurity strategies to keep it safe. Employees should be aware of best private data security practices so they don’t unknowingly put your data at risk.

If you have an employee with a degree in data science, they’ll be helpful in data management and establishing an effective data governance plan. Schools that specialize in data science teach students about data collection, access policies, storage and analysis. 

Whether your specialized employee earned their data science degree online or at a university, it’s important that they stay updated on the latest data collection and usage laws. With an informed and dedicated employee, you’ll be able to establish a sound data governance policy that ensures your business stays compliant and your data remains organized and useful.