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What New Business Owners Need to Know About Data Governance

Data Governance, governance of data, governance structure, Big Data, Risks of Governance

Many business owners are uncertain about how to use their data at work. They may know about data management and data security. Companies want to have a clear, established system for sorting and finding data. They also want to have procedures in place for keeping that data safe from the many hackers and other bad actors who want to access it. But all of this effort is moot if a company does not have a sensible governance structure for data in place. More and more business owners need to familiarize themselves with the idea of the governance of data if they hope to remain successful in the modern economy.

What is Governance?

Data governance is the system of responsibility that surrounds the management, storage, and distribution of data. It is basically the structure by which a company handles the data that it creates. Companies can create hundreds of different types of data. Some of this data is helpful for the production of goods or the handling of services. It may be proprietary data that cannot be released to the public or to competitors without harming a company’s business stance. All of this data must be routinely updated and manipulated. But these procedures will not occur if they are not part of any employee’s job description. Data governance is the delineation of tasks and responsibilities for the maintenance and security of data. It is the process by which a company ensures that it has employees who know what to do and know how to handle the data that is emanating from the company.

Potential Risks of Governance

Data governance can present a number of problems and risks for even the most tech-savvy company. One of these is the risk of the loss of personal information. Company systems have data of potentially hundreds or thousands of customers and employees. This data includes addresses, Social Security numbers for employees, and credit card numbers for customers. All of this data has to be properly encrypted. If it is hacked and released, there is a wide variety of repercussions. Companies can be subject to fines if there is any evidence that they did not take every step possible in order to curb the chances of such a breach.

In addition, a data breach may reveal proprietary information that aids competitors while harming a particular company. Some companies also run the risk of poisoning future relationships. This problem is compounded if any of their poor data practices are reported in the press. A quick internet search can doom the chances of securing new clients.

Training in the Governance of Data

One of the most effective approaches to aid the governance of data is extensive training. This training will help ensure that individuals in a company are following best practices for their data usage. Training would involve showing each user how to properly manage and maintain their data. It would involve picking strong passwords that are saved somewhere in case they are forgotten. It would also involve drills and training regiments where an individual determines

Then, the leaders of the governance system must also receive training. The company may have to spend extensive time training a governance leader. Governance leaders have a wide variety of decisions that they have to make with many different forms of technology. They must be trained both as managers and as data specialists. In many cases, companies undergoing a governance overhaul will hire outside help to either serve as a governance leader or train potential governance leaders within an organization.

What to do

Perhaps the most important thing for business owners to learn about governance is the importance of getting started. In order to start the governance process, a company must have a meeting where they lay out all of their data needs. These needs would include everything from storage limits to the different stakeholders who need to access sensitive data. Business owners have to compile this information into a set of documents and then use it to create a governance structure. The governance structure contains all of the different people who have responsibilities that are tangential to governance in any way. There may be a place for the security chief or an individual who is in charge of making and updating spreadsheets.


Business owners have enough on their plate at any time. They have to deal with the economic futures of dozens or even hundreds of people. They often do not have enough time to worry about a concept such as the governance of data. But governance can be essential to a company’s success. It can help a company maximize the monetary value of data and create a chain of responsibility for the data problems that will inevitably arise. In all, it is the secret to data success and will pay for itself time and again.

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