This is both a question that many organisations must face, and a challenge laid bare by the evident prominence of high-profile cases involving data breaches. According to the OAIC, there are approximately 250 breaches per quarter in Australia – a third of which are accountable to human error. Just this month, 15 Australian telecommunication providers were warned about not complying with laws that support emergency services.

The effect of data breaches is well documented. The need to mitigate against such risks are also seemingly well understood by enterprises who are pouring evermore resources into tightening their IT systems. Gartner Inc. expect the worldwide cyber security market to grow to $170.4 billion by 2022. But whilst such organisations focus on IT systems, security operations and risk; they often fall into the trap of not adequately understanding the true and inherent value of their data assets. As John Ludley explains in his dissection of modern data governance, “many organisations believe they are on the data driven trajectory, and most are really headed in the wrong direction”. Ludley points to a commonplace malaise associated with the attitudes of organisation’s treatment of data; a misguided assumption that ‘data will look after itself’. Moreover, he foretells us as data practitioners that “we cannot lightly introduce powerful technologies that have the potential to delivery significant benefits to individuals or to society, but equally have the potential to inflict great harms.” This last point echoes strongly with the events that unfolded with Cambridge Analytica: a firm which entirely and expertly understood and capitalised on the value of data, but which was also ultimately undone by it.

You may be thinking that your company has in place the necessary ethical and technical safeguards to avoid such spectacular mismanagement of data – but it’s likely that you’re closer to a breach than you might expect.

Have you ever been in a board meeting where someone has presented a report and the validity or provenance of the data has been questioned? Or perhaps, you’ve been an analyst or researcher, and someone has handed you really useful data but you’re not sure if they’ve given you ‘too much information’? Cast your mind back to a time where you’re at a colleague’s desk and they pull up some data that’s a slightly altered replica of something you’ve been working on. Perhaps you often email confidential data to a personal address, manipulate it then send it back to your work account. Do your customers complain that they are still being contacted after explicitly asking to be taken off of a distribution list? These are all signs that your organisation has failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by effective data governance; that your organisation might be unfit for data.

The good news is that the knowledge, tools and expertise exist to not only to help mitigate your organisation from these risks; but to also provide you with the powerful business capabilities to become a truly data driven organisation. Fast forward yourself to a scenario where your board members can not only trust the report that’s been presented; but solely focus their conversation on a constructive debate leading to a business decision. Imagine a scenario where, as an analyst, your permissions match the data you can access, and you understand the policies governing the data you’re consuming. Picture a world where master data management is ingrained into your organisation’s catalogue – where you can generate a mapped illustration of which reports your metric sits in across the organisation – eliminating duplication and the accumulation of asynchronous data. The term ‘Governance 2.0’ reflects the changing landscape of data and associated challenges faced by organisations. It signals the required evolution of enterprise information management required to meet these challenges whilst capitalising on opportunities. Amongst other things, this means understanding business demands for rapid insight, unlocking BI capabilities and driving innovation, whilst bolstering the regulatory requirements stemming from GDPR and other core standards.

During its ten-year journey, Billigence have worked with companies across the globe facing these type of data challenges. We understand that it does not have to be hard to manage and govern data. Utilising our expertise, we are able to start small and work with you to make incremental improvements to your data governance framework. We have partnered with leading providers of analytics and governance solutions, Alteryx and Collibra, to establish a unique understanding of how to implement governance technologies that are transformative, pragmatic and sustainable. If you are interested in becoming an organisation that is fit for data then contact us today.

Graham Pearman, Principal Data Governance Consultant Billigence

Graham Pearman

Principal Consultant, Data Governance

Billigence