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Trends - Shift from Data Governance to Data Transparency

By Ashish Haruray, Senior CoE Leader | Enterprise Data Solutions, AXA XL

Ashish Haruray, Senior CoE Leader | Enterprise Data Solutions, AXA XL

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and deep sense of insecurity” – Dalai Lama

If you walk into a grocery store and see a carton that says “Milk” but has nothing written on the carton, you can’t see what’s inside, there are no nutritional facts, no expiration date, no mention of where and when it was produced. I doubt that you would buy it. Same is increasingly true with data. Businesses are asking for more transparency into data, to understand it well because their necksare on the line for the consequences when usingdata they do not properly understand.

Words have meanings and interpretation to convey what they really are all about, what they truly mean. For many years, Data Governance was associated with a very limited view which conveyed “Control” and “Policing”. This didn’t help the cause that it was set out to do. People associated Data Governance with negative sentiment and it was blamed for slowing projects down. Business leaders saw it as a necessary evil for them to comply with their Regulatory department, but it wasn’t perceived as something that can help them increase productivity/operational efficiency.

For some this scenario may still be how they view Data Governance. There is an increasing trend that is transforming Data Governance into Data Transparency. What it really means is that your data can now answer questions such as: what does it mean?; where does it come from?; and more importantly, can you trust it?

This trend is getting more attention from the business community because now, this is something they care about. As decision makers, they want to make sure that their decisions are based on facts and not assumptions. Some of the common problems they see in their current situations is that they cannot ask questions about the data they see in their report. They rely on someone (usually their IT department) to answer that question for them and they do not have much transparency into that process. Leaving aside the time lag for their question, the lack of transparency causes lack of trust. It’s human nature. If you don’t have transparency, good outcomes are seen as a fluke and bad outcomes are seen as erosion of trust in data.

Also, in the past, business leaders were not aware of data issues that would impact the reports they used. They assumed the data quality to be perfect and barring major issues, they adopted to “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This meant that any issues with data were seen as technology problem. In reality though, technology teams cannot solve many of the data issues without active participation from business. I am seeing that is changing as well. Businesses are seeing the value in their engagement with technology, and how it can help them. Our Insurance industry that heavily relies on data, the products we sell are built on data, there is nothing more important than data. It makes sense to have our data be able to speak for itself. It is no longer nice to have capability but a must-have, something we can’t live or conduct business without.

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