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Supporting a proactive data management strategy

At the MDM & Data Governance Summit in New York this week, we met with dozens of data practitioners who all had very similar challenges with their data. Many of the conference-goers were early on in their data journey and interested in establishing master data management (MDM) and data governance processes. They were at the conference to learn best practices from their peers in the industry. Without a doubt, there continues to be a universal desire to shift data management from reactive—data for compliance or regulatory mandates—to proactive and to leverage data to drive insights that will deliver profits to the business.

One of the biggest issues in establishing a successful data management program is getting senior management support. Often programs fail because the organizational culture is not mature when it comes to data-centricity and data literacy. Changing the culture and emphasizing the importance of being data-driven takes time and must be directed from the top of the organization. Without such support, functional or departmental priorities can stymie attempts to create organization-wide data management processes. In reality, obtaining necessary senior management support is actually easier when the goals of the program are business-related and more proactive (i.e., toward growth and transformation) rather than compliance-related and more reactive (i.e., focused solely on mitigating risk and cost).

The key is to first determine the business goals of the program and then to prioritize the issues that need to be addressed to achieve the goals. Most data governance programs involve the creation of a data governance committee whose tasks include cataloging all sources of data, defining metadata definitions, and creating and publishing rules and processes. It’s often a challenge to have the business fully engaged because these tasks appear technical and speak of control. A better approach is to engage them in discussing and prioritizing data issues that need to be fixed in order to make rapid business improvements. Senior management then plays a key role in arbitrating between priorities. And for the data management program, understanding how data issues affect the business is a true critical success factor.

Fixing critical issues then becomes a step-wise approach that leads to continuous improvement and incremental success. Having prioritized the issues, the business gets to more quickly see the results. However, before developing the plan to address each issue, it’s important to scope problems fully. Data quality issues frequently lie at the core when marketing, analytics, or insights programs fail to deliver the expected results. But that’s the purpose of creating a data management program in the first place, correct? Unfortunately, data quality issues still arise even when complex MDM and data governance processes and tools are in place. Technology solutions sometimes include cursory data quality functionality, but it’s generally not a core capability or an area of focus. For example, thoroughly profiling the data provides the knowledge to create a successful plan. Without it, plans are inadequate and implementation suffers delay as critical elements fail to work.

Even event-goers with established processes expressed frustration with the lack of data profiling depth as well as the inability to monitor and report on their data quality issues over time. They also needed a way to monitor compliance with and the success of their initiatives. The capability to measure and monitor data quality improvements at each step along the way is a critical success factor for any MDM or data governance program. Data practitioners who are establishing or optimizing their practices should consider a data quality management solution to guide their MDM and governance approaches that can quickly reveal issues and automatically take action to ensure data is fit-for-purpose for all their business needs.

At Experian, we are experts in data quality. We have provided robust data quality and enrichment solutions to thousands of customers across multiple verticals around the world for more than 20 years. We have been recognized by industry analysts for our deep data profiling capabilities, as well as our ability to provide customers with rapid time to value. Our platform deploys in days not months and enables organizations to quickly build trust in their data so that their data management programs can be successful and meet their goals.

If you are interested in learning more about how partnering with Experian can help you be more proactive with your data management strategy then our data experts can help.

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