Research Report: The State of Data Governance 2022

Data governance is growing in significance for enterprise organisations. To gain a greater and more quantitative insight into the challenges organisations face when it comes to delivering good data governance and the opportunities it brings if you’re able to overcome them, Nephos commissioned an independent market research study.

The study consisted of 300 decision-makers working within enterprise organisations of varying sizes and industries to give us a meaningful cross-section of respondents. The breakdown of respondents is shown in the diagram below:

Data governance is a discipline that Nephos has been working in for some time now, so in part, we intended to validate the more anecdotal feedback we receive from customers.

Before seeing the results of the research study, there were several things we believed to be true:

  • Delivering governance programmes is expensive, complex and requires significant resources in terms of people. They are also time-consuming. 
  • Traditional tools are often inefficient point products with little integration between them, causing gaps in capability and creating complexity when it comes to ongoing management. 
  • Data is becoming more diverse in every dimension – it’s stored and processed in more locations (cloud, hybrid and on-premise), there are large combinations of both structured and unstructured data, and data growth is exponential.

As a reader of this and a data professional, I imagine none of what we believe will come as a shock to you, either!

So – that’s what we wanted to achieve; what did we actually learn? We can break those insights down into two aspects: 

  1. What are the barriers to adopting good governance
  2. What opportunities does a data governance programme bring an organisation

What Are The Barriers To Adoption

First of all, let’s deal with the barriers. What’s stopping organisations from getting value from their data governance programmes or getting them off the ground in the first place?

People 

52% of respondents felt that they don’t have the right skill sets to deliver good data governance. To my mind, this isn’t necessarily a reference to a un or underskilled workforce; this is more related to the fact that in the UK, there is a lack of people focussed in this area – it’s a volume issue more than anything else, so those that are available are in high demand. The other challenge we often see is that people have skills associated with specific tools such as OneTrust – that’s great if you want to work in an organisation with that tool, but it’s not necessarily immediately transferable. The toolset then becomes a limitation.

Tooling

37% don’t feel they have the right tools to do the job!

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to data governance tools. There’s no single tool that does everything. As a result, organisations have bought something for privacy, something for data cataloguing, something for lineage, something for quality, and the list goes on.

Worse still, those tools aren’t always owned by the same people; for example, Cyber security may own access control tools, data departments may own lineage and quality tools, and governance teams may invest in data catalogues.  

These tools don’t talk to each other, and based on the ever-changing data landscape I’ve already mentioned, these tools can often become obsolete. In many cases, they’re suitable for their initial purpose, but as the environment changes, additional tools fill the gaps that the legacy tools leave behind.

The result is that we have inadequate tools for the job, too many of them with spiralling costs and management overheads (overheads we don’t need when we don’t have enough people to support them!).

Executive Support

33% of respondents don’t believe they get enough executive support. At the same time, 98% of respondents have an ongoing governance programme.

To my mind, this suggests a problem with how data governance is positioned in the boardroom. Organisations are investing money into data governance programmes, but it’s not high enough up the agenda.

In speaking with decision-makers in this arena, data governance has long been a protection mechanism to meet regulatory and legislative needs. If we want more significant investment in this area, data governance needs to be more than that – we need to start thinking about the value creation aspect of data governance (a future blog coming on this soon).

The result of these challenges is that only 1/3 of the respondents feel like they get value from their governance programmes.

Again, defining that value at the board level is a must! 

Our responses align with what we thought the biggest challenges for organisations were.

Data governance programmes can be slow, complex and costly to deliver, with traditional toolsets falling short. We need more significant investment, and more people resource to enable these programmes.

So What’s The Opportunity & Why Do We Do It 

Despite these challenges, organisations are turning to data governance as a critical pillar of their data strategy. Data governance is a fundamental pillar of the data mesh approach that many aim for.

There were some critical outcomes organisations want to achieve according to the research study, and these are shown below:

There’s an almost equal divide between what people want to achieve, with half of the results aligned to protecting data assets and the other half related to using data governance to support value creation.

So we know we can get value from data governance projects, but that organisations are under-resourced when it comes to delivering and running them on an ongoing basis, which begs the question: how do we achieve better data governance faster, with fewer resources and better/more valuable outcomes?

Based on the respondents from the research study, 76% of respondents believe that a service-led approach would speed up time to value and reduce the operational overhead of running data governance programmes.

This belief in the benefits of a service-led approach caused Nephos to launch our Data Governance as a Service (DGaaS) offering. Since working with several customers to deliver our DGaaS service, it’s become increasingly clear that operationalising data governance programmes are challenging for organisations of all shapes and sizes.  At the same time, organisations are turning to data governance as a critical pillar of their data strategy, so there needs to be a better way to successfully deliver these programmes.  

Based on our experience, and now with the automation techniques we have developed, we know the service-based approach delivers faster (for one customer alone, this programme has been reduced from an estimated 24 months down to 10) with fewer resources. 

If you’d like to learn more about our research study, you can download our infographic or the detailed report using the links provided.

For more information on our DGaaS offering, resources are available here.

We will also be hosting a webinar to go through these results in more detail.  If you’d like to join the conversation, you can register here!