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As more enterprises shift to ensure customer data privacy, data governance work is becoming increasingly important for IT departments pursuing digital transformation.

While companies may have previously collected data in case someone would want it, today’s businesses are actively asking how to store and dispose of data and, increasingly, how to generate maximum value while protecting their customers’ privacy.

Those are among the most salient conclusions from the 2021 State of Data Governance and Empowerment report commissioned by Erwin by Quest, a division of Quest Software. The report, compiled by ESG Research, surveyed 220 professionals across a collection of businesses selected from a broad range of industries, like manufacturing, health care, construction, and government.

Data is key to economic success. In the survey, 84% of respondents agreed that gathering data offered “the best opportunity for my organization to develop a competitive advantage.” But if they didn’t use this data to customize their product line and serve each customer, 74% believed they “will be disrupted by competitors that do.”


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So how will companies go about achieving this? The report found 42% have a working plan for data governance that’s already staffed and underway, while 45% are in the process of implementing a plan that has recently been solidified. The last 13% said they were just starting to plan but that it was definitely on their roadmap.

Under the data governance umbrella

What is data governance? In a nutshell, it’s a mix of accuracy, completeness, and privacy protection. When asked to select their top motivations, the respondents pointed to more than 10 factors, with 58% citing improved data security as most important, while 45% focused on improving data quality. Other contenders included improving analytics (35%), improving compliance (34%), and increasing customer satisfaction (23%). (Respondents were able to choose multiple factors, so the percentages in the report didn’t add up to 100%.)

The findings suggest the organizational barriers dividing data governance, data operations, and data protection are diminishing as organizations hone their data capabilities, Quest Software exec Heath Thompson told VentureBeat. But he said better collaboration and automation is in store.

Responses indicated the move to automated gathering and curation of data is still in the early stages. Only 7% said their data pipelines were entirely automated, while 59% said at least half of the work was manual. In any case, they agreed finding better software solutions is essential.

Many respondents said they’re focusing on making it simpler for users to request the data they need without intervention. “Self-service” is a big part of the answer, mixed with the right amount of automation for assistance, as 42% said their company has already begun work on self-service options, and 51% said they’re developing those options now.

Another big challenge the companies faced was building out automated tools for data collection, cleansing, and analysis. These three are foundational tasks for the data governance roles at many companies. The survey shows 93% saw “room to incorporate more automation into their data operations.”

The report coincided with Quest’s first Data Empowerment Summit and is something of a coming out party for Erwin, which Quest Software acquired earlier this year.

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