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Data quality and skills shortage holding businesses back from data empowerment

By Shannon Williams
Tue 18 May 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Organisations believe their data represents the best business opportunity in the next two years, but many are still experiencing significant bottlenecks to smart, data-driven decision making such as skills gaps, delays, and data quality.

That's the findings of the 2021 State of Data Governance and Empowerment report from erwin by Quest, part of systems management, data protection and security software provider Quest Software.

The report shows that 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. 

Building on prior research, erwin by Quest worked with Enterprise Strategy Group to understand how organisations define, adopt and prioritise 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. 

The research reveals that 82% of organisations 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," he says.

"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 organisational priority. 

Overall, data governance has reached a new level of maturity, with 87% of organisations reporting they have established a data governance programme or are in the process of implementing this key tenet of modern business, compared to 49% in 2020.

"According to the survey, 84% of organisations believe their data represents the best opportunity for gaining a competitive advantage during the next 12 to 24 months," says Thompson.

"Although data is a differentiator and data governance programs are more mature, several ongoing challenges prevent organisations from achieving their data-centric goals," he says.

"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', organisations need to free the experts from data burdens and empower more people to access and analyse 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 operationalising data governance (34%). 

Other key findings include:

Time is a major factor.

o   Data stewards still spend too much time on data-related activities, including analysing (23%), protecting (23%) and searching for data (20%).

o   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.

o   While 42% of organisations have some mix of manual and automated processes, 93% say there$B!G(Bs room to incorporate more automation into their data operations. 

o   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.

o   93% of organisations have already or plan to leverage self-service in provisioning data, showing that self-service is more important than ever.

o   Seven out of 10 respondents report their organisations$B!G(B self-service data provisioning enablement has had a significant business impact.

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