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Data governance is all about the information value chain

Ira Whiteside, Data Solutions Group, FIS

March 30, 2020

Data governance is often perceived as a mundane effort to protect data, but it is really all about how you transform the smallest data element at the “atomic” level, into the right business insights that your organization needs to solve its most pressing problems. Ultimately, the value of the data you hold comes from the outcomes made possible by a well-established and thought out Information Value Chain.To unleash the value of data, you must break down the Information Value Chain and look closely at the way your organization governs the path data takes on its journey to become something useful to your decisions and actions. Along the way you also must protect the security and integrity of the data, as well as mitigate any risk to the business. All too often the conversation around the governance process and technical detail gets in the way of what governance is enabling. An organization must focus on “what we’re doing” rather than on “how we’re doing it.” It all begins with the questions the business is trying to answer and linking the macro (high – level) to the atomic level.

An organized and thoughtful layered process

The collection of layers between KPIs and the smallest data point constitute the Information Value Chain. Consider how that smallest unit of data moves through its journey by breaking down the layers using the following guide:

  • Business is based on Capabilities or Concepts
  • People think and act in terms of these Concepts
  • Concepts come from Knowledge
  • Knowledge comes from Information
  • Information comes from Formulas or calculations
  • Formulas determine Information Relationships based on Quantities
  • Quantities come from Data
  • Data physically exists – these are the facts from which information is derived
  • Data is the result of a Process
  • Process(es) support Capabilities or Concepts

Always start with the end in mind

There are many spokes on the cultural wheel in a business today, encompassing business and technology acumen, information relationships and raw data knowledge. And while they are all equally critical to success, the crucial step is that a logical business model defined as the Information Value Chain is maintained and enhanced. A logical business model is a picture or a diagram, it graphically shows the organization and hierarchy/relationships for the Information Value Chain. (The Business Relationships)

The need to resolve the relationships is what drives the need for data governance, which is really a way of understanding what you need to do to standardize your data. Because the only way to create the relationships is with standards and mappings between data sets.

It is a given that all business’s desire to lower cost and gain insight into information. That requires accurate information that can be audited and traceable. To that end a business must fully understand their existing Information relationships and strive to maintain it through data governance. Once you’ve done the work of establishing KPIs linkage through the Information Value Chain, your business needs a hardened organized set of logical processes to refine data on its path to helping you not only see past results, but better predict the future.