TMMData Blog

Marketers: Data Governance Doesn’t Mean “Keep Out,” it Means “Pull Up a Chair”

January 23, 2018

Group of businesspeople working over digital tablet and laptop in the office-585136-edited.jpeg


Darren Wagner, TMMData CMO


Big data requires big data governance, and data governance itself can be an overwhelmingly expansive concept. To a marketing executive, it often means one thing, and to an IT engineer or database administrator, it means quite another – and that’s not surprising, because when done correctly, data governance is an enterprise-deep effort that touches almost every organizational stakeholder.


As marketers, we’re often conditioned to interpret “data governance” as a massive “KEEP OUT!” sign on the information that could help our team uncover new target audiences or revenue streams. If that’s the case, now is absolutely the time to work on deprogramming that response:  CMOs should be finding their seats at the data governance table as soon as possible to ensure that their teams have access to the clean, accurate data that will help them do their jobs effectively.


At the organizational level, data governance is comprised of the functions and rules that dictate how data is collected, classified/named, stored, secured, maintained and accessed across an organization. It encompasses regulatory and compliance rules, minimizes or eliminates re-work and maximizes the revenue-generating potential of data. Enterprises often have entire committees or working groups dedicated to the maintenance of an overarching data governance framework. In other words, it’s time to stop perceiving this function as red tape getting in the way of data access, and embrace it as data quality finally getting the attention we’ve wanted it to for years.


Why you can’t afford to avoid governance

If this has perhaps been the conversation or meeting you’ve avoided in the past, now is the time to take a deep dive into the ways data governance can be a huge asset to marketing departments. Consider taxonomy, for example. If you’re receiving data sets from multiple business units or vendors tracking email, but each unit refers to the field for “email” differently (“e-mail,” “email” and “eml”), your analysts are spending unnecessary time trying to standardize those field formats before they can even begin to evaluate the performance of those campaigns.


Or let’s say that the sales volume reports that you receive from different departments all define “volume” differently:  Some detail units per item sold while others don’t, so you’re unable to discern customers purchasing a multi-pack of product from those purchasing a single pack. Without standardized volume figures, you’re unable to do the apples-to-apples comparisons that would help you make decisions about the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.


For years marketers have been tasked with demonstrating ROI on every aspect of our work, and we’ve led the way with pioneering tracking and analytical practices. But there’s little point in having data to assess every aspect of your marketing work if it’s not trustworthy – so it’s critical that we get involved with the committee or group charged with ensuring the quality, accuracy and usefulness of the data. 


As marketing executives, we cannot afford to shy away from conversations involving data governance or data security, regardless of how recently those terms may have been used as knee-jerk justifications for why we can’t get our analytics tools connected to the data we need. Instead of letting “tech talk” shut down conversations about governance, engage more deeply with all of the stakeholders at the table to make sure you understand their goals and they understand yours. At the end of the day, your work doesn’t exist in a data vacuum. No matter how great a steward of departmental data you are, there’s always the risk that the data sources you rely on from other business units aren’t as well monitored. We risk undermining all of our own quality efforts by not jumping into the governance discussion with both feet.


The tools you need to achieve a balance between security and access

I can’t promise you that assuming your position at the data governance table will make all of your struggles with data access disappear, but I can promise you that it will make those conversations easier because you’ll have demonstrated to the other stakeholders that data quality and security are priorities for you as well.


A chief concern of the data governance committee will be maintaining the integrity of centralized enterprise data as you seek to integrate departmental and third-party data. Here’s where self-service data integration technologies can be a CMO’s best asset as you get the governance team comfortable with marketing’s access to central data and help shape governance policies in a way that strikes the most organizationally advantageous balance between security and access.


One of the critical features of TMMData's Flow tool for data integration is that users can set up governance and permissions at the database level, so data security, access and integrity are maintained as you move data across visualization, analytics and other BI platforms post-integration. Insist on a data integration partner who can set access and permissions per user group, per user, per table, per type of access and per ownership. This will give less technical users the ability to manage who on their team can see which types of data without having to painfully manage access on a case-by-case basis when personally identifiable or financial data is involved.


Best-in-class data preparation and blending tools, like TMMData's Prep tool, allow you and the rest of the governance committee to breathe easy by attaching metadata tags to information each time it moves or is transformed in any way, creating an accountability map that shows where data has flowed to and from, how it’s been altered and by whom.


Data governance benefits marketing. Period.

In marketing, we need quick access to myriad data sources to accomplish the fundamental work of comprehensive campaign reporting, let alone to do the higher order analytical work of producing predictive models that drive new strategies and revenue. If whispers of “data governance” have had you readying for battle over data access, consider embracing the components of governance that will directly contribute to better data quality and the functions of data integration software that can help you maintain or increase data access while supporting governance.  


Get a seat at the table of your company’s data governance leadership, and make the case for marketers’ governed access.


Interested in learning more about TMMData's Foundation platform and its solutions for helping organizations provide seamless data access and robust data governance? Drop us a line, we'd love to tell you more!


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