Data Governance and the Social Enterprise

In his blog post Socializing Software, Michael Fauscette explained that in order “to create a next generation enterprise, businesses need to take two concepts from the social web and apply them across all business functions: community and content.”

“Traditional enterprise software,” according to Fauscette, “was built on the concept of managing through rigid business processes and controlled workflow.  With process at the center of the design, people-based collaboration was not possible.”

Peter Sondergaard, the global head of research at Gartner, explained at a recent conference that “the rigid business processes which dominate enterprise organizational architectures today are well suited for routine, predictable business activities.  But they are poorly suited to support people who’s jobs require discovery, interpretation, negotiation and complex decision-making.”

“Social computing,” according to Sondergaard, “not Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, but the technologies and principals behind them will be implemented across and between all organizations, and it will unleash yet to be realized productivity growth.”

Since the importance of collaboration is one of my favorite topics, I like Fauscette’s emphasis on people-based collaboration and Sondergaard’s emphasis on the limitations of process-based collaboration.  The key to success for most, if not all, organizational initiatives is the willingness of people all across the enterprise to embrace collaboration.

Successful organizations view collaboration not just as a guiding principle, but as a call to action in their daily business practices.

As Sondergaard points out, the technologies and principals behind social computing are the key to enabling what many analysts have begun referring to as the social enterprise.  Collaboration is the key to business success.  This essential collaboration has to be based on people, and not on rigid business processes since business activities and business priorities are constantly changing.


Data Governance and the Social Enterprise

Often the root cause of poor data quality can be traced to a lack of a shared understanding of the roles and responsibilities involved in how the organization is using its data to support its business activities.  The primary focus of data governance is the strategic alignment of people throughout the organization through the definition, implementation, and enforcement of the policies that govern the interactions between people, business processes, data, and technology.

A data quality program within a data governance framework is a cross-functional, enterprise-wide initiative requiring people to be accountable for its data, business process, and technology aspects.  However, policy enforcement and accountability are often confused with traditional notions of command and control, which is the antithesis of the social enterprise that instead requires an emphasis on communication, cooperation, and people-based collaboration.

Data governance policies for data quality illustrate the intersection of business, data, and technical knowledge, which is spread throughout the enterprise, transcending any artificial boundaries imposed by an organizational chart or rigid business processes, where different departments or different business functions appear as if they were independent of the rest of the organization.

Data governance reveals how interconnected and interdependent the organization is, and why people-driven social enterprises are more likely to survive and thrive in today’s highly competitive and rapidly evolving marketplace.

Social enterprises rely on the strength of their people asset to successfully manage their data, which is a strategic corporate asset because high quality data serves as a solid foundation for an organization’s success, empowering people, enabled by technology, to optimize business processes for superior business performance.


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