The CIO and big data governance: integrity versus intuition

Scott SchlesingerScott Schlesinger a Partner in IT Advisory at EY, examines the three top tips for better big data governance.

Do you remember intuition? While senior executives may sometimes rely on it, big data is doing its best to make gut instinct redundant. Data-driven insight is giving substance to critical decisions, from how to maximize customer profitability to improving supply chain efficiency.

CIOs are instrumental in seizing this opportunity for data-driven efficiency and growth. However, there is a temptation – given the sheer volume of data that is out there – to focus all your energies on how to collect and store big data. But it’s equally important to focus on the integrity of data – establishing a robust governance approach.

Big data governance: making sense out of nonsense

The right big data governance approach sets the rules, policies, standards, procedures – even the roles and responsibilities – for how data is managed and secured. It establishes standards and requirements for the collection, identification, storage and use of data. It defines who owns data, how it can be used and how to manage the data life cycle, so that you don’t hold on to petabytes of redundant historical data.

Three governance success factors for CIOs to follow

1. Think beyond data security to data privacy and usage. If you don’t get this right, you could walk into a minefield of risk. If you are using medical or other sensitive personal data, do you understand what consents are needed? Do you understand your obligations under legal and regulatory policies, such as the EU Data Protection Directive?

2. Consider the life cycle of data. Big data has got so voluminous that we now refer to data “lakes.” Organizations have to do something with huge volumes of data. Not just archiving it, but permanently deleting it. If it’s not relevant or needed, why is it taking up space? Understanding how to manage the offload of data is a critical question for the CIO.

3. Plan ahead in collaboration with C-suite colleagues. With big data, many organizations find themselves reinventing the wheel over and over again because they don’t have the right governance. For example, if you acquire a company, you also acquire its data assets. How do you integrate that data? What’s the system of record? CIOs need to partner with their C-suite colleagues, including the CEO, CFO and CMO, to put the right data governance foundations in place.

Data has currency

All of us tend to safeguard the things that we feel have value. Today, data has specific, quantifiable value to the individual and to the organization. It needs to be safeguarded in the same way we would safeguard the money in our wallet. To do that, CIOs, together with their CRO colleagues, need to ensure the right governance process is in place.


To read more on the topic please find a related article here.


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