Call Me Ishmael: Moby Dick And Data Governance

3 min read · 6 years ago


Lemon shark, Bahamas“… for all angel is not’ing more dan de shark well goberned.”
– Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The value of governance was well understood far before the concept was applied to the world of business intelligence (BI). A man writing about the whaling industry in the 19th century could recognize that oversight demarcated the thin line between positive and negative.

Business analysts, operating without proper oversight, can become sharks — devouring restricted data and wreaking havoc on security protocols and regulatory standards. These same analysts, with the proper governance tools and policies in place, can be angels. Governed analysts will look for data in the right places and cut through extraneous statistical noise to generate valuable insights. Recent Aberdeen research examined how to keep the sharks in sales and marketing at bay and foster angelic users.

Forever Improving Data Engagement

The term governance could use some marketing assistance, as it is unfairly associated with bureaucracy, obstruction, and frustration. Aberdeen’s research shows that proper data governance actually alleviates these analytical maladies.

According to Aberdeen’s 2014 Business Analytics survey, 35 percent of salespeople and marketers work in a governed data environment. Aberdeen compared these customer-facing employees to individuals in organizations without data governance to evaluate analytical performance (Figure 1). Individuals working with governed customer data obtain information within the decision window 27 percent more often than All Others.

Analysts in governed data environments don’t get bogged down in unnecessary access protocols or superfluous information. Governance, when implemented correctly, offers the right information to the right people at the right time. Governing customer data for sales and marketing ensures that analysts are working with the best possible information, not just what happens to be at hand. Salespeople and marketers operating in governed data environments are less likely to have to lean on incomplete information or blind instinct.

Still, even analysts in governed environments would like to see improvements in performance around the decision window. Only 45 percent of governed users are satisfied with the speed of information delivery, though this is a higher rate than ungoverned users. Customer data is always changing and data overseers must work to maintain governance while delivering information in time for it to have an impact. Governance policies should be designed and adjusted with fast data objectives in mind. Educating salespeople and marketers on the importance of proper data governance may also relieve their impatience.

Figure 1: Better Customer Analytics Driven By Governance


Source: Aberdeen Group, December 2014

Over two-thirds of users with governed customer data improved collaboration and knowledge sharing over the past year, compared to 55 percent of All Others. Effective analytics in sales and marketing requires a certain level of supervision, but that supervision can also facilitate channels of communication and data exchange.

Sales and marketing should share information to help achieve their collective goals. Marketers can see what types of leads bear out to closed deals. Salespeople can see what messaging resonates best and adjust their pitches accordingly.

Easy data sharing encourages analytical activity in these non-technical roles. Aberdeen’s report, Collaborative Data Governance: Peeling the Red Tape off Data Discovery, showcases the avenues that open when users and IT work together to achieve optimized collaboration in a governed environment.

Finally, governed users are 31 percent more likely than ungoverned users to be satisfied with their access to pertinent customer data. Governed customer data is better organized and catalogued and channels of delivery run smoother.

While governed organizations are satisfying more users, this is still an area that they should aim to improve. Data stewards should ensure that governance meets all security and regulatory requirements, but should not be overly restrictive so as to limit analytical exploration. Governance should never be equated with obstruction. Users should either be given access to data they need or given a satisfying explanation as to why it must be restricted. Aberdeen’s report, The State of Data Availability: All the Right Data in All the Right Places, discusses how to improve data access while still respecting the need for governance.

Sales and marketing analysts operating without data governance can easily become Melville’s sharks – breaching security protocols and muddling analysis with a flood of irrelevant information. Data governance makes these same users angels – delivering business insight from on high.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Call Me Ishmael: Moby Dick And Data Governance

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