What happens after the data revolution? Data governance
Upheaval. Chaos. New processes. New rules. Regime change. New leaders. Passion. Fear. These and other words come to mind when I think about ‘revolution.’ I’m immediately transported back to times of Guillotines and the end of noblesse oblige in aristocratic France. It was a time of great change brought about by an overwhelming demand from the people for something different. Times were changing, and so too were the people’s needs, as evidenced by the French Revolution’s famous battle cry, ‘aux armes, citoyens’ (to arms, citizens), rallying the crowd to the barricades and the push for change.
The same is true in the world of business today. Times are changing quickly - economies are growing and contracting; technologies are evolving at an exponential rate; regulations and policy are adding complexity to business; markets are increasingly global; and profitability is no longer driven just by the financials. Suffice it to say, today’s business environment is undergoing a total makeover… A revolution. And data plays a central role in that revolution - how companies create, gather, manage, protect, and use data.
Merriam-Webster defines revolution as “a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.” If this holds true with respect to data, we are seeing a complete change in how data is managed throughout its lifecycle today, from the moment of creation through to the ultimate use, of bits and bytes about product sales, consumer behavior, resource use and much more.
The same pressures driving complexity in business today are catalyzing change in how companies view and manage their valuable data assets. New technologies lead to enhanced capabilities - such as predictive or prescriptive analytics – with data. They also lead to new responsibilities and accountabilities, and this includes proper data governance policies and strategies to ensure that data is protected throughout its lifecycle. Among other things, for data to be truly valuable, it must be accessible, usable by software, error free, protected from theft, and reliable. These are enabled by good data governance - the new regime arising out of the revolution.
Many companies today do not currently have data governance policies and strategies in place. However, in the U.S. market, recent headlines from regulators such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s announcement about companies needing to disclose information about cyber security risks and breaches are influencing factors that will help drive the data revolution sooner here and bring about new standards of practice with respect to data governance.
Management accountants play a central role in this new regime of the data revolution. CFOs and finance professionals are caretakers of the company’s information and data assets and have the opportunity to ensure their safety and value through the implementation of effective data governance strategy. Will you join them on the barricades?