Last week, I attended the first-ever DG Vision conference in Washington, DC, along with 350+ of my data management peers.
It was an exciting place to be — and not just because it was held in the historic Mayflower Hotel built in 1925. (If these walls could talk!) It was because of the many practical learnings, insightful conversations and meaningful connections centered on data governance and stewardship.
From the in-depth tutorials, engaging sessions and even the casual conversations with fellow attendees during lunches and breaks, there was an overriding theme and commonality that data governance is a journey.
Some organizations are just starting out. Some are rolling governance out enterprise-wide. Some are rekindling a stalled program or failed launch. And some are leveraging data governance as an accelerator for new drivers and capabilities, such as data privacy, data literacy or data discovery.
DG Vision Speaker Highlights
Wherever you are on this journey, here are key takeaways from some of the conference presenters and thought leaders that may help you grow and evolve your data governance efforts — and results.
- Ensure data governance is repeatable in order to improve your organization’s data, usage of the data and the way people leverage data to support organizational strategy. (Peter Aiken)
- Deliver business value while building data governance capabilities. Plan and manage the sequence of work to implement needed data governance capabilities, then use those capabilities to fulfill specific needs. This will enable stronger alignment between Business and IT around data-centric projects. (Kelle O’Neal)
- Institute a business-as-usual routine that breeds excellence and business value. To measure your program’s success and foster continued engagement, it’s important to leverage collaboration tools, a communication plan, use cases and strategic priorities to build momentum and future growth. (Alissa Schneider)
- Create value statements to summarize the business impact of data governance capabilities. Value statements are a compelling way to discuss significance in an easy-to-understand format. They help you focus your message, engage your target audience by aligning to business requirements, gain support and allow your message to travel across the organization. Be mindful of full-circle communications and know when to communicate up, down, out and within. (Danette McGilvray)
- Balance data security and data availability with sound data governance/management. Understand what data you need to manage, why you need to manage it, when you need to manage it and how to develop and enforce boundaries and critical guardrails for its ethical use. It’s no longer just about “protecting the data this way” (e.g., compliance), but protecting the data from misuse (e.g., data privacy) and considering the impact to humanity and whether you are setting a precedent that will result in a loss of trust. (Maria Voreh)
- Develop a data ethics framework. Creating a data privacy or ethics framework is an effective and sustainable way to enable an ethical culture. The framework should call on the principles and guidance around what is considered ethical and what isn’t. When it comes to ethical questions about data use, a good way to start is by making sure you have someone in the room to ask them. (Dr. Katherine O’Keefe)
- Measure data as an asset in the truest sense. Consider measuring your gains from data in a monetization context. Start by understanding Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and adapting them for data management, leveraging data debt as a powerful metric to highlight the true costs of delaying “doing the right things,” and tracking data revenue, value and cost management. Ensure the value created by enhanced decision-making is greater than the sum of operational costs required to produce it. (John Ladley)
Data Governance in the Organization
Another key theme echoed across many of the sessions was that organizational readiness and cultural embedment are critical success factors for building momentum and sustainability.
As our CEO Kelle O’Neal highlighted in the The Future of Data Goverance is Now ebook:
Remember when we all rallied around the DG ethos of “think program, not project”? Now it’s time to “think operationalization and embedment, not program.” For governance to unlock full value enterprise-wide, it needs to be for data what Human Resources is for people.
There were so many more learnings from the four-day event, but I only highlighted a few. There were also many tweetable moments and insights captured at #DGVision, so be sure to head there for additional insights.
After attending an action(able)-packed conference like this one, it’s understandable to have information overload or to feel overwhelmed by all the best practice tips and aspirational success stories.
You don’t always need a big budget, technological “silver bullet” or a big initiative to make progress. Continue to invest in data literacy for yourself and across your organization. Optimize your resources. Focus on incremental growth and build from there.
Every journey starts with one small step.
In the eternal words of Arthur Ashe:
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.