I was on a briefing the other day with a small software vendor talking about governance. We were exploring and contrasting experiences with how users look at “governance”. A couple of my favorite angles included:
- Business users tend, if you are luck, to accept that they “own” process, but few accept that they do, or should, own data. Conclusion – get over it, and start talking of “stewardship” instead
- When someone talks of “governance”, without any context, its tantamount to talking about fools gold. Conclusion – governance, out of context, is dangerous; add context in order to make it meaningful
- “Governance of data/information” needs to start, or be applied first, with a focus on data/information that is meaningful to the business: Conclusion – start a governance focus on “enterprise information” (that is, stuff that’s important like master data or reference data).
One question that came up from the vendor was this: does a focus on data quality (DQ) confuse, or complicate, a message related to data governance (DG)? It turns out that the vendor perceives a risk that users will think that a message/offering oriented around “data quality” might get confused (i.e. might compete) with something oriented around “data governance”.
Clearly there is a potential for this. Even in our research, “data quality” at an holistic level, implies a broad view of the quality, integrity, and consistency of data and/or process etc. So at one level, there is overlap. However, the reality is that most users do NOT take that holistic view; they equate “DQ” with a technology that is applied to a problem at a point in time. Few use the term DQ to equate to a living, breading process that manages, or ‘governs’, the process or data.
Bottom line – DQ and DG are different, but related. The vendor does run a minor risk (in my view) but I think it’s a slight one. For sure, there are lots of “DQ” messages and offerings on the market today; and there will be a lot more related to DG soon. I’d go with a focus on DG and message how DQ technology supports DG.