Data sharing and compliance: how to find the right balance?
If there is a single most delicate aspect to the balance of data sharing and compliance, it lies in the process of creating a single source of truth. This project involves many departments across the company: sales, customer support, and of course, IT. The more stakeholders are involved, the more project's complexity rises, as it contains different objectives from different parties.
Challenges in data sharing and compliance
Finding the right balance between the need for a secure data governance policy and the desire for flexibility is always challenging. IT wants to have a secure governance regime when developing a central data sharing platform. They worry about things like following the compliance and policies, giving access to the right user, and ensuring the data is healthy.
However, business departments usually do not care about data governance. They care about getting the right data across systems and people more quickly and efficiently, both internally and, eventually, externally. For example, if an Aftersales org wants to use a Sales org from the European region, IT needs to make sure that the data they are sharing are compliant with the GDPR, can be tracked, and is only accessible to the right user. But for the people in the Aftersales org want, the only priority is to get the right data quickly and generate insights to be used in customer promotions.
In short, most data sharing platform projects fail because the objective is not aligned between teams. If the balance goes too far toward either IT or business, the entire organization can suffer from an imbalance between data governance and flexibility. Either Governance is at risk, or users suffer.
How to strike a balance
What should any organization keep in mind when establishing data governance while making the data flexible for all business users?
These are the three things to keep in mind when finding the right balance and providing the data consumption, movement, and delivery capabilities needed to make data sharing possible:
1. Set a goal that aligns both business and IT
Setting a common goal is extremely important for a project to succeed. Agreeing to a goal gives everyone clear criteria when a conflict arises. This is the first step to helping IT and business to find the right balance. This is often overlooked as IT and business discussions can quickly become technical and detailed. Remember that technology is not an end, but a means to achieve business value.
2. Set a system that works
Even if there is a common goal to help find the right balance, there will be challenges. So there must also be a system to listen to feedback from users to improve the system. A good amount of communication must happen between IT and business. In addition, other aspects such as internal support, operation, and documentation must be prepared to support the users' day-to-day work.
3. Simplify the internal process
In the process of establishing data governance, IT teams often set up too many rules. Business users don't like that. They want to have autonomy and flexibility. When the rules are too strict, they often deviate from the IT-approved platform and start their own projects under their own budget. To prevent this, IT must make the platform easy to use so that users are not lost in the system.
Achieving data excellence
What does successful data sharing look like? It could look different depending on the project, but eventually, it means that a company is using data to deliver business outcomes. Business outcomes can mean different things: it may be reducing the cost by analyzing the cost associated with procurement, or increasing revenue by providing insights on marketing and sales on which customer segments to approach.
Regardless of the specific objective, a data sharing projects must be evaluated based on how well they generate business value. When IT and business are aligned on goals — and the methods for achieving those goals — success through data excellence is sure to follow.
Author: Kensuke Ishii