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Every Company is a Data Company

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Every company is a data company. According to the World Economic Forum and IBM, by 2025, individuals and companies around the world will produce an estimated 463 exabytes of data each day, compared with less than three exabytes a decade ago!

Wow.

Many businesses have started to address the tactical parts of data management—for instance, building data lakes and integrating data scientists

But big picture data strategy – governance and ethics for example – often aren’t top of mind for business leadership. Leaders aren’t deliberately ignoring these concerns; it’s often just easier to focus on more tangible issues – the tools, technologies, and near-term objectives associated with data management—than on governance, long term vision, and the seemingly invisible ways data management can go wrong.

In a 2021 McKinsey Global Survey only 27 percent of some 1,000 respondents said that their data professionals actively check for skewed or biased data during data ingestion. Only 17 percent said that their companies have a dedicated data governance committee that includes risk and legal professionals.

Organizations may think that just by hiring some data scientists, they’ve fulfilled their data management obligations. The truth is that data is everyone’s domain, not just the province of data scientists or legal and compliance teams. At different times, employees across the organization—from the front line to the C-level and the board—will need to raise, respond to, and think through various issues surrounding data.

Business unit leaders will need to vet their data strategies with legal and marketing teams, for example, to ensure that their strategic and commercial objectives are in line with customers’ expectations and with regulatory and legal requirements for data usage.

Lapses can occur when executives look only at discrete data sets and don’t consider the entire data pipeline. Where did the data come from? Can this vendor ensure that the subjects of the data gave consent for use by third parties? Does the market data contain material nonpublic information? Due diligence is key.

Leaders in the business units, functional areas, and legal and compliance teams must come together regularly to create a data usage framework for employees—a framework that reflects a shared vision and mission for the company’s use of data. To begin, the CEO and other C-suite leaders must be involved in defining data rules that give employees a clear sense of the company’s long-term vision for data.

Data governance challenges are common—and they are growing. As organizations generate more data, adopt new tools and technologies to collect and analyze data, and find new ways to apply insights from data, new complications emerge.

There are common data management traps that leaders and organizations can fall into, despite their best intentions. These traps include thinking that data governance does not apply to the entire organization, that legal and compliance have data policies covered without frequent participation from the business, and that data scientists have all the answers.

Data governance can‘t be put into practice overnight. As many business leaders know, building teams, establishing practices, and changing culture are easier said than done.

Contact us to learn more about establishing data governance, strategies, and long-term goals for your organization.

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