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The importance of achieving Data Governance

Author: Bjarne Keytsman


In today’s business environment, data is an undervalued asset for most companies, we’ve already written about that. In 2022, about 92% of businesses who invested in data can show measurable returns, that’s up from only 42,1% in 2017. However, in the same period the number of companies that call themselves “data-driven” has dropped from 31.5% to 26.5%. Highlighting that effective data management requires more than investment in IT [1].

Often neglected is the importance of data governance [2]. The truth is that every organization is governing its data to some degree, from completely unconscious, without much formalization and consistency, to very effective and optimized [3].

Quid Data Governance?

But what’s data governance, why do you need it and how can you achieve it? We’ve already covered the basics in this article. But in short:

Data governance is the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data residing in the enterprise IT systems, based on internal data standards and policies that also control data usage. Effective data governance ensures that data is consistent and trustworthy and doesn't get misused.

In essence, it’s about how decisions are made about data within an organization and how people and processes are expected to behave in relation to it.

Data Governance / Data Management adopted from DMBOK2

The purpose of Data Governance

We have already established that low levels of data governance can lead to inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Another effect could be an increased degree of risk, notable examples are GDPR or data breaches.

Proper data governance avoids that BI analysts spend more time than necessary on finding the right data or cleaning up bad quality data, ... It makes sure that sensitive data is accessible only to those who need it. And as a final example makes sure people know what their data means.

A strong Data Governance practice brings the data closer to your business: it enables your organization to access its data with more ease and less risk.

What we have learned at our clients about Data Governance

At our clients, we let 3 principles guide us in providing lasting impact.

  1. Sustainability Data governance isn’t implemented overnight, nor does it have an endpoint in time. As we want to create a lasting change in how people behave around data, we need to make sure the effort required is sustainable for when we eventually leave.

  2. Embeddedness Data governance cannot be done by one person or one team. Every business unit, department and team must be involved. Some formal through data governance roles, others informal by being informed and adopting the right behaviour around data.

  3. Measured

Data governance should yield positive results, among others financial impact, employee happiness and customer satisfaction. Quantifying this effort helps communicate and motivate employees to continue with the effort.

Would you like to know more about data governance and how we have implemented at several of our clients? Are you ready to fully tap into your data? Feel free to reach out to Bjarne Keytsman or Luc Machiels.


[1]: New Vantage Partners. (2022). Data and AI Leadership Executive Survey 2022. Boston.

[2]: Sebastian-Coleman, L. (2018). Navigating the Labyrinth (1st ed.). Technics Publications.

[3]: Nascio. (2009). Data Governance Part II: Maturity Models – A Path to Progress. Kensington.

[4]: Bean, R., & Davenport, T. H. (2019, February 5). Companies are failing in their efforts to become Data-Driven. Harvard Business Review.


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