Data Governance Strategy Leader @ Fitch Group
April 04, 2022
Is data a commodity? I asked myself recently, while planning for a Data Governance Strategy, is data a commodity? I quickly answered, in my head, with a “yes” and the reason being, that data is an asset and a key driver for any organization. More specifically, in an organization like Financial Services or Technology, where vast amounts of data are available and produced, it makes sense that their business model is based on the commercialization or production of “packed data assets”. If I breakdown data commodity, as a digital asset than it is as useful or essential like water or time.
Often times, Data Governance experts are asked to develop frameworks, operating models focused on Data Privacy, Compliance, Security and/ or Quality, where the key components are to ensure the safety and security of data assets. Most recently, I’ve noticed that with the evolution of a Chief Data Officer or Chief Information Officer, organizations are navigating towards key drivers that prioritize commercialization or production of new assets. There is a correlation between the development of these “newer” roles and how organizations strategically view digital or data assets as something that can be used or profited from.
In fact, social media companies and platforms discovered, early on, the profitability of personal data, and as all data governance experts know, the protection of this data has grown exponentially. So, how do we safely profit from data that can be produced as a commodity and how can we protect data that is highly regulated i.e. GDPR, CCPA. A careful balance of building out the fundamental concepts of data governance and clear communication and alignment with business stakeholders.
Through many trials and errors, I have learned that the business must understand the basics of data governance, before leaping into solution. A big piece of data strategy is the component of understanding data basics through a literacy program. Such as; Metadata, Master Data, Data Quality, Stewardship, Operating Model. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to pair a data governance program with a training program. If this is not a part of your strategic plan, then it should be. More importantly, make sure that your strategic plan includes opportunities for re-enforcement. Such as; Data Workshops, or “After Hours” Q&A. Speaking from personal experience, as my past life of being a teacher, people must put into practice before truly understanding a concept.
Many organizations are a proponent of buying Data Governance solutions to suffice for the “Data Governance Program”. This is a poor decision if data governance components and literacy program are not established first. Be mindful that the community of stakeholders, business, and data teams must be equipped with understanding the “why”, “what”, “who”, and “where”, before getting to the “How”. In this context, the “How” is How do we operationalize the creation of new business terms, or business processes, that is scalable and automated. i.e. a Data Governance Solution.
Circling back to the thought that data is a commodity, I would preface to say, that before you can commercialize from your data assets, the organization must be fundamentally sound in data governance components. A CDO must ask whether or not the organization is mature in their data governance components before truly understanding “how” the data assets can be commercialized or produced. Is there a hard a fast rule that a Data Governance program should be established before monetization? No, many organizations today drive the production of data assets through out their business model, without any establishment of Data Governance. But can a Data Governance solidify and optimized the data value chain? Yes! Most certainly it can.