Embarking on a data governance strategy

Businesses without good data governance will have a hard time making meaningful use of big data analytics.

If enterprises are only analyzing one percent of their data to develop their business and customer intelligence, as IDC analysts have said is the case for data analytics overall, it is safe to assume the reason, in part, is that they are unaware of all the data they have, where all their data is stored and the integrity of the data (of which they are aware). So before big data initiatives can take place, such businesses, and in good practice all businesses, need to consider applying some data governance.

Data governance is the oversight and management of data, data quality, data integrity, data policies and the business processes around it all, as well as around risk management. Its main purpose is to help businesses maintain control of their data. Businesses without good data governance will have a hard time making meaningful use of big data analytics. And businesses that have governance programs must keep them current and accurate to maintain that usefulness.

Michele Goetz, senior analyst for enterprise architectures at Forrester, said in her most recent blog that--big data aside--judgment day is here and data quality management and that the adoption and use of in-memory databases, Hadoop, data virtualization and other big data techniques, means that more data is bypassing traditional platforms. Therefore, "the options to manage data quality are expanding, but not necessarily in a way that ensures that data can be trusted or complies with data policies," she said.

She added that enterprises will place higher value on governance enablement and the ability to extend sophisticated and mature processing across the entire data management platform and that "to be viable long term, data quality tools need to expand and support data management beyond the data warehouse, ETL, and point of capture cleansing.  They need to embrace the new data management paradigm."  

One company helping them do that is Embarcadero Technologies, which last month launched a metadata governance strategy designed to help organizations establish and implement data governance initiatives. The governance platform works in conjunction with the company's ER/Studio XE3database modeling tool to provide better collaboration and workflows around metadata.

"Governance is kind of change management writ large," said Henry Olson, director of product management at Embarcadero. Many organizations have looked at governance as a key strategy to address this challenge of a 15-fold growth in data over the next decade, he added. However, too often investments in governance leave a company with little more than what Olson calls shelf ware, binders full of policies that people look at every couple of months and are not very practical for keeping up with change.

"What we are talking about is very pragmatic approach. We are talking about building an enterprise information map, in other words a metadata foundation using catalogs that describe all enterprise information assets," Olson said. "This is really critical in enabling collaboration, comprehension and ultimately synchronization of the governance effort."

He said metadata in data governance is critical to extracting value from data by providing the linkage between the business need and the information or data value. The ER/Studio XE3, now generally available, is a significant driver behind the company's metadata governance platform. It utilizes universal mapping features for enterprise modeling and impact analysis, creates custom data types that allow for both forward and reverse engineering and supports SQL Server 2012, Teradata, Netezza, Greenplum and Windows 8.

Embarcadero is a 20-year-old company based in San Francisco and claims to have 90 of the Fortune 100 as customers, as well as an active community of three million users. When it comes to big data, Olson said the company's goal is to close the execution gap in data governance. "Too many enterprises get bogged down by taking on the daunting task of documenting everything, it's a never-ending fairytale," he said.

Last week, the company said it has acquired AnyDAC from DA-SOFT Technologies. AnyDAC is a software development library for Enterprise-class data access. 

For more:
- see Embarcadero's launch release

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