The Silver Bullet for Eliminating Data Chaos

Posted by Eric Ecker on July 10, 2020

Governance is one of those disciplines with multiple definitions across various business areas and functions. There is Corporate Governance, Public Governance, IT Governance, and many other forms. All forms of governance share something in common…that is to make sure that processes are not just “happening.” Instead, governance creates mechanisms and protocols that enable accuracy, strategy, efficiency, and support the success and future of an organization’s strategy.

Data Governance is no different in that it acts as a key pillar to success in digital transformation projects. Many times, I ask potential customers, “what are your most strategic assets?”. I often hear things like: “our production lines,” “our assets or equipment,” and “our facilities.” Sometimes I hear, “patents and intellectual property,” and most often, of course, “our employees.” This is when I often start to get a slight eyebrow raise. No, I’m not petulant…just trying to make a point. “Which other assets come to your mind?” “think about assets that you heavily invest in?”. And sometimes we finally hear, "Our data!" Eureka!

And just because this strategic asset isn’t something should never undermine its incredible value and criticality to your business. It can’t be underestimated or undervalued because it is just “there”. It silently resides in CRM, ERP, MES and countless other systems (and now third-party apps). It is stored and hidden underneath daily business transactions, in local or cloud data lakes. But in these challenging times, your data is your most important asset. High quality, well-governed data allows you to make real-time decisions to steer the organization away from catastrophe, seize timely opportunities and build the foundation for your digital transformation.

Technological advancements (like Industrie 4.0 and IoT) have led to a data explosion! We create and store tremendous amounts of data without any effort. But is it enough to have petabytes of data available? What about the quality of these data assets? Do they hold the right information? Is it accurate, timely, complete, unique, standardized? Unfortunately, we can’t just wish on a shooting star for data quality. It doesn’t arise from happenstance. Introducing data governance; a silver bullet that turns data into information.

Without governance, users are just left on their own to enter what they believe is right. There is no guidance, no rules that need to be adhered to for making a data record a strategic asset and ensuring it conforms to the business needs of an organization. It’s absolute chaos.

There are many critical components of data governance. There are organizational necessities like forming a dedicated, cross-functional team responsible for the definitions and rules surrounding data assets, and there are also technical components. What are all the documented business rules good for if they are not being checked? Unfortunately, it is not feasible from a resourcing perspective for manual checking by human beings or business users. The sheer volume of daily information being created and changed requires checking to be built into the data management processes from the very start. SAP provides a platform for holistic data governance, called SAP Master Data Governance (SAP MDG). It provides key functionality like checking business rules, detecting duplicates, orchestrating the data flow of entering, enriching, correcting, and approving information. SAP’s MDG platform uses workflows to distribute clean and accurate master data across your heterogeneous landscape.

Data governance is an important discipline to define and execute all rules to achieve business-ready data assets. It is the critical keystone for guiding the process of maintaining data and defining all procedures and rules to ensure that data is consistent, reliable, complete, and accurate. Oh, and by the way, when implemented and managed correctly, it will save your organization millions of dollars every year. Talk about an ROI!

The Silver Bullet for Eliminating Data Chaos is part two of a five-part series written by Utopia’s Global Head of Solutions, Eric Ecker. In this series scholar and professor, turned leading technologist, Eric Ecker continues his quest to evangelize data-driven business value for non-experts. He explores the basics of master data management and governance and how they can transform and organization into a truly agile digital enterprise.

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