How to Avoid Big Data Mistakes


(Image: iidea studio/Shutterstock)

(Image: iidea studio/Shutterstock)

Looking for a way to keep your customers happy and feeling safe, your bosses relaxed and confident, and the rest of your company's teams protected from major mistakes? Just as a solid accounting system ensures and demonstrates that a business is being well managed, a data governance program is a necessary element of any business today that deals with data. And that's basically all businesses.

Companies today are starting to really understand that, according to Donna Burbank, Managing Director of Global Data Strategy and a speaker at the Interop ITX event in Las Vegas in May, a vendor-neutral conference for IT practitioners and leaders. Burbank told InformationWeek in an interview that data governance is getting more attention and respect from the business side of companies today, and that's a good thing.

"Companies are finally starting to 'get' data, for lack of a better term," she told me. "They understand how data affects their business models." Companies such as Amazon and Uber are highly visible examples of companies that are really data-driven, and many others are following their examples because data is important, whether it is big data or traditional data.

"Governance is really your accounting department for data," Burbank said. When governance is done well, it's really based on collaboration around data. For instance, everyone has to agree on how we calculate total revenue for North America. In terms of data, everyone must agree on how we define North America. Business leaders today are now recognizing that such definitions are important to ensure quality data, and quality data is important to a strong modern business. Data governance is getting a new level of respect from business leaders beyond the IT department.

"We really are in a transformational time," Burbank said.

[Read more about how to improve your data's value by improving your data governance in the full article at InformationWeek.]

Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps, Informationweek

Jessica Davis has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology at titles including IDG's Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology's MSPmentor. She's passionate about the practical use of business intelligence, predictive analytics, and big data for smarter business and a better world. In her spare time she enjoys playing Minecraft and other video games with her sons. She's also a student and performer of improvisational comedy. Follow her on Twitter: @jessicadavis.

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Re: Good data governance
  • 3/15/2017 6:18:21 PM
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I think anyone who works in finance and accouting knows how important good data governance can be.  When there isn't a standard process or method being able to reconcile accounts can be a nightmare. 

I've seen first hand some pretty sloppy methods and money both positive and negative beng unaccounted for.  It even worse for a manager that has to explain why an account is over or short when there isn't any documenation. 

Re: Good data governance
  • 3/14/2017 8:12:17 AM
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Getting everyone aboard for definitions and how to organize data into mutally agreed categories would be seemingly understood to be crucial. But, as we've seen, politics and disagreements on how the results are to be displayed causes lots of problems as we're seeing even at the Federal government level as politicians disagree with the government's own statisticians and analyists. Move those disagreements down to the corporate level as we still have lots of problems in defining data.

Re: Data as an asset
  • 3/6/2017 9:58:24 AM
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This reminds me of what Sue Trombley, managing director of thought leadership at Iron Moutain, said in an interview a couple of years back.  She considered information governance key to an organization's extracting value from its data.

Re: Good data governance
  • 3/3/2017 12:14:33 PM
NO RATINGS

Creating the data equivalent of CPAs and accounting firms is an inspired idea, PredictableChaos. There's so much variance state to state, not to mention country to country. Some generally accepted data accounting principles at the very least would be a great start.

Re: Data as an asset
  • 3/3/2017 8:17:41 AM
NO RATINGS

I don't think it's just executives that are starting to understand the value of data and I don't think executives are the ones who need to grasp this concept.  The people generating the data need to understand this and act accordingly.  Over decades of working with data the challenge has been the same, the people generating the data don't act in a manner that shows they understand that what they are entering into a database matters. 

Data as an asset
  • 3/2/2017 5:01:17 PM
NO RATINGS

I think we are at the point where CFOs and others are truly beginning to understand that data is an asset and it needs to be protected like one. It is about time.

Re: Good data governance
  • 3/1/2017 5:20:57 PM
NO RATINGS

Maybe we need to have the equivalent of CPAs and accounting firms for data?

Stock values for companies like Uber are strongly driven by data that is often tracked and reported by the company itself. Data that may be defined in ways that the audience doesn't fully understand.

Good data governance
  • 3/1/2017 3:43:55 PM
NO RATINGS

..

Jessica quotes Donna Burbank: "Governance is really your accounting department for data." Then she elaborates:


Just as a solid accounting system ensures and demonstrates that a business is being well managed, a data governance program is a necessary element of any business today that deals with data.


 

I thought this was a good insight from the perspective of managing data integrity and quality and ensuring consistency. Let's keep in mind that this is an important concept not just for private business but for the public sector and noncommercial research activities also.

..

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