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The way the world uses data has changed. In a short span of time, the amount of data created globally has increased at a geometric rate. We’re no longer thinking in terms of gigabytes, terabytes or even petabytes — we’re in the age of a data universe measured in exabytes and zettabytes (that’s one trillion gigabytes, if you can believe it).

Big Data is starting to look as unfathomable as the night sky in its size and scope, and just like the untold numbers of stars in the sky, businesses are starting to realize they cannot account for the entirety of their data production by conventional means. More and more, they are turning to MSPs, ISVs, and VARs for help with data governance strategy, implementation, and compliance. There’s a great opportunity to add data governance programs to your service offering, but in doing so, what exactly are your clients seeking, and what exactly are they expecting you to deliver? Before you get started, there are a few things to consider.

1. One Size Does NOT Fit All.

In essence, data governance is a set of controls to control the quality, integrity, usability, and security of a company’s information. However, that can mean many things to many companies. A main street SMB, hospital, bank, and government office all have different requirements, and, in some cases, compliance law to adhere to. Be prepared to create custom data governance assessments for each client that examine their data security, data retention policies, data creation standards, and the efficacy of the programs in place. In addition, you’ll need to determine your client’s exposure to compliance regulation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the Sabarnes-Oaxley Act, and whether they are currently at risk of noncompliance. Some considerations:

  • Where is data made available and who has access to it?
  • What is the purpose of the data?
  • Why is this data being created, what is its value, and what is the cost?
  • Who oversees the creation, usage, and storage of this data?

Understandably, these are not questions easily answered. Through research and cooperation with key stakeholders, you’ll be able to create a cohesive data governance plan ready for implementation.


2. Be Equipped — Or Be Accountable.

No, it’s not all about Apache Hadoop. While a powerful tool, it’s not for every organization. Because data governance strategy depends highly on the type of organization, its objectives, its structure, and culture, there is no one tool that can sufficiently cover every data governance need. MSPs can implement multiple software solutions to help streamline, simplify, and quantify data, but even more importantly, that software must assist the best practices set forth in your assessment with adoption and adherence at all levels of the organization. Data governance tools may or may not be specifically marketed as such, yet may be part of an effective plan; by adding data governance as a service offering, you become your clients’ go-to resource for the efficacy of the plan, and the number of people at the organization involved with data at this integral level can range from some to none at all. You very well may be the data steward for this governance program, and the responsibility rests on you to assure the success of the privacy, security, and compliance needs of the organization.

3. Communication Is Crucial.

Few people arrive at their place of work every day excited to establish and discuss data governance policies, and because of this it can sometimes be a hard sell. Outside of compliance concerns or merger/acquisition ventures, the value of a data governance program may not be immediately seen. It takes a sufficient understanding and a review of policies and process in place to understand how to best restructure the paradigm of an organization’s data; however, the greatest asset you have when offering data governance services is communication between you and your client, as well as communication within the organization. Implementation will only be as good as the adoption and adherence to it, and will take “data champions” at multiple levels of business to help partner and drive the success of the program. Effective communication of the value, efficiency, and optimization gained from a data governance program is necessary to ensure that all levels of the organization are informed, educated and on board.

Data governance does not happen overnight; it’s a multiphased approach that can start small (although holistically) and gain traction with time, as the successes and values of the program demonstrate themselves. By providing the goals and roadmap to success to your clients, you can be in a prime position to gain business through implementing successful programs.

The preceding blog post was adapted from this Business Solutions Magazine article.


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