Big Data is a hot topic throughout many organisations. We have seen innovative organisations use data in new ways to achieve a significant competitive advantage, in some cases acting as a disruptive force to the traditional business models. Those who don't keep up may be at significant disadvantage in the future. Although some organisations are drawing up new strategies to take advantage of the available data and drive business value, many are failing to receive a return on their investment.

Data governance is used to help organisations manage their data, enabling them to extract value through efficiency and insight. In a world of Big Data, the need to implement robust data governance as an essential component is crucial to overcome common failings and leverage the potential of Big Data. There are a number of elements which should be considered as part of this:

Business vision and aligned strategy

True value from Big Data is only achieved from embedding extracted insight into everyday business decision making. Defining a business vision will allow an organisation to focus on identifying their Big Data objectives and the capabilities required to extract insight from their data to support their business. Making your vision and objectives clear to everyone is critical, without this vision in place many projects fail to deliver long term value to the business.

Policies and standards to enforce data quality and security

With insight comes great responsibility. Big Data requires the use of new detailed data sources that could also be used to identify specific individuals, this creates a significant data management challenge. The new data sources could also be unstructured, and are likely to have data quality issues. Defining policies, standards and process are essential to ensure data sets can be accessed, they are of sufficient quality and that correct security and privacy controls are in place. The availability and variety of data is only going to increase with the surge of digitisation and growing number of connected devices, increasing the opportunity but compounding these challenges.

Outline ownership and accountability through roles and responsibilities

Getting the most from these new technologies also means investing in the right skillsets, either through recruitment or training. Too often organisations have been focussed on technology without considering the correct skills needed to extract insight and missing the opportunity. The data governance should also set out who is accountable for keeping the projects on track, overcoming obstacles and providing visibility on the value being delivered through reporting.

Setting out the correct Big Data governance will allow an organisation to have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, the required controls in place and the right people and capabilities to help unlock the value of data to stay competitive in this new data age.

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