Data governance, data operations and data protection converging to empower better decision-making: Survey

Survey shows that advancing data governance is a top-5 priority for 57% of organizations, with data security and data quality as the primary drivers

Data governance, data operations and data protection converging to empower better decision-making: Survey - CIO&Leader

The silos between data governance, data operations and data protection are diminishing as enterprises seek to understand their data and the systems that use and secure data to empower smarter decision-making, according to erwin by Quest’s 2021 State of Data Governance and Empowerment report. Building on prior research, erwin by Quest worked with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) to understand how organizations define, adopt and prioritize data governance, as well as examine the current drivers and challenges of governing data through its lifecycle and integration points.

With a focus on maturity of data governance, this year’s report also looked at the evolution of the concept and its connection to the operational systems and data protection strategies that underpin it. To this point, the research reveals that 82% of organizations have mostly, if not completely, aligned their data governance and data protection strategies, with 55% of survey respondents citing “data protection” as the term they most closely associate with data governance. Additionally, 85% monitor their databases and other data systems as part of their data governance programs. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters report a need to dramatically improve data infrastructure.

“The results of our latest report confirm a major shift in the marketplace with the convergence of data governance, data operations and data protection,” says Heath Thompson, president and general manager of Information and Systems Management at Quest Software. “These traditional silos are diminishing because enterprises need to give their front and back offices intelligence about their data assets plus the systems that use and protect the data. Without these disciplines and their respective solutions working in concert, an automated, secure, high-quality data pipeline on which to base critical decisions cannot exist.”

While the traditional reasons to implement data governance remain largely unchanged, with analytics (35%), regulatory compliance (34%), and better decision-making (27%) as the top three, improved data security (48%) and data quality (45%) debuted as 2021’s top data governance drivers. These new primary drivers align with the increase in security challenges experienced due to COVID-19 in addition to continuing data proliferation, and are primary reasons why 57% of respondents have advancing data governance as a top-5 organizational priority. Overall, data governance has reached a new level of maturity, with 87% of organizations reporting they’ve established a data governance program or are in the process of implementing this key tenet of modern business, compared to 49% in 2020.

“According to the survey, 84% of organizations believe their data represents the best opportunity for gaining a competitive advantage during the next 12 to 24 months. Although data is a differentiator and data governance programs are more mature, several ongoing challenges prevent organizations from achieving their data-centric goals,” explains Thompson. “Too much data that’s too distributed is difficult to manage. Skills gaps, increasing costs, and the slow time to data value are becoming insurmountable burdens. To reach ‘data nirvana,’ organizations need to free the experts from data burdens and empower more people to access and analyze data with confidence.”

Exploring bottlenecks and issues causing delays across the entire data value chain, the report also identifies data quality/accuracy (52%) as the No. 1 challenge, followed by skills shortages/gaps (42%), cost (36%), culture change (35%) and actually operationalizing data governance (34%). Other key findings include:

  • Time is a major factor.

    • Data stewards still spend too much time on data-related activities, including analyzing (23%), protecting (23%) and searching for data (20%).
    • It takes most business users (e.g., developers, analysts, data scientists) one to two business days to receive the data they request from IT.
  • More automation opportunities exist.

    • While 42% of organizations have some mix of manual and automated processes, 93% say there’s room to incorporate more automation into their data operations.
    • In line with ensuring trust in data, data quality (27%), data integration (17%), and data preparation (14%) are the three data operations automated the most.
  • Self-service done right is a game-changer.

    • 93% of organizations have already or plan to leverage self-service in provisioning data, showing that self-service is more important than ever.
    • Seven out of 10 respondents report their organizations’ self-service data provisioning enablement has had a significant business impact.

More than 200 respondents participated in the erwin by Quest-ESG research survey March 12-22, 2021. They include a combination of business (40%) and IT (60%) professionals, responsible for/familiar with their organizations’ data governance and intelligence operations and employed at organizations with 1,000+ employees with annual revenue of USD 100M+.


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