Back to Basics: Data Governance, Stewardship and Management, Part 1 - A Simple Metaphor

back-to-basics-part-1.jpegData Governance, Data Stewardship and Data Management are terms so frequently used and exchanged in the field of information management that they have lost their meaning. Practitioners, on the other hand, assume that the rest of the crowd understands all their subtlety. Well, they don’t.

These terms make sense if you use a simple metaphor.

Take a country. Most countries have many inhabitants living, acting, and having an effect on the happenings of the country. Usually, they are bound to rules and laws which are decided on by a government or by social agreement, and enforced by bodies like the police force, or a responsible parent.

If you understand this, you understand data governance, stewardship and management.

  • Governance is how the government is organized (aka the Constitution), and what it produces (decisions & laws)
  • Stewardship is about what the police do; that is, enforcing the aforementioned laws
  • Management is what you, as a citizen (or a responsible parent) do on a daily basis, that is living and acting as happily as possible in the limits given by the laws

When reading the wikipedia article about political systems, or playing a game like Civilization, you realize that human organizations grow along with their demographics and size: from bands to tribes, then cities, countries and even empires. As the system scales up, it requires a different organization. As I have quoted before, “More is Different”.

Unfortunately, in the world of information technology, data has grown and still grows faster than the organization required to handle this data. As we start to take care of the homeless data in Excel spreadsheets, bottomless data lakes are spawning. As we try to figure out data quality rules and processes, artificial intelligence is starting to use this data in ways we cannot even manage.

Is there a solution to this problem? We discuss this in Part 2 of our 4-part series.

Read Part 2