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Data Governance In Business Analytics: The Role Ethics, Security, And Quality Plays

Renowned writer Robin Morgan once noted the importance of data, highlighting that knowledge is power. In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, it’s a fair representation of how the information systems produce can be incredibly powerful in the hands of users.

Your data, whether you realize it or not, is being tracked across the devices you use, the browsers you search with, and even the networks you access. While not as glamorous as the world of crime-fighting series such as FBI or Blue Bloods, organizations can, and often will, use your data to gain an advantage – through tactical advertising, store placement, or even simply to learn more about you.

In recent years, public sentiment on the way data is used has shifted. No longer are we comfortable with sharing all of our details online, and for online business analytics masters, understanding the way data is governed, concerning ethics, security, and quality, is now of utmost importance. Let’s dive in and discover how data governance is transforming the way organizations use data.

Data Governance is Powerful

Data is relatively easy to obtain in today’s highly digital world. From the powerful analytics platforms of Google and Adobe to lesser-known data farms, firms can gather immense amounts of data in a relatively short amount of time.

However, this level of data hoarding has faced an increased level of scrutiny in recent years. One such major incident was Cambridge Analytica’s harvesting of tens of millions of Facebook profiles, and then misusing the data for political advertising. Companies such as Meta have struggled to address the ethical issues of siphoning data, highlighting just how dangerous the misuse of data can be.

The idea of data governance emerged in the mid-2000s, as businesses considered the ways that data could be used in ethical ways, for research purposes. During that time, social media was a nascent idea, and nowhere near as widespread as it is today. As a result, data governance has evolved from its original intent to a set of principles that govern how data is used, monitored, and managed.

In particular, there are five key principles to good data governance, those being considering how data is private, accurate, available, usable, and crucially, secure. It’s a holistic idea, that considers not just the data itself, but the actions that stakeholders take to use and engage with it, and encompasses both the operational and ethical implications of data.

As has been seen in recent years, many Americans are concerned about the way that their data is being handled in the corporate world. Adopting strong data governance policies can help to mitigate some of the issues that are present when acquiring and handling data, as well as going a way to address future concerns proactively.

The Importance of Quality

Applying for a loan can sometimes feel like a complicated endeavor – you complete a bunch of paperwork, get in touch with a broker, and even if you do everything right, sometimes your application is rejected, without a reason.

One of the underlying metrics that is used to determine your ability to repay a loan is the idea of a credit score. Developed by major credit agencies, these scores are in theory meant to provide a loan provider with a metric that can be used to accurately determine loan viability. However, there are considerable issues with the idea of accurate credit scores – controversies in recent years have highlighted issues from bias, to simply a lack of information on nearly one in ten credit applicants.

The quality of data is not only important for credit – a company may wish to use data to understand key operations, such as total product sales or the amount invested into product lines. If data is incomplete or unreliable, it can be challenging for stakeholders to effectively use data. Additionally, if data is of a sufficiently high quality, it can open up new ideas and initiatives across the business.

Securing Data: The New Battleground

Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook. Three giant technology companies that have suffered data leaks in recent years, often to the significant detriment of users. With data being significantly valuable to hackers and other bad actors, companies both large and small are facing the wrath of cyber intrusions and hacks alike.

Security plays a vital role in corporate trust. A lack of data protection can not only make a business vulnerable to attack – it can compromise customer security and trust, as can be seen with the 2017 leak of Equifax customer data.

Data security is crucial for the ongoing success of an organization. In today’s risk-heavy world, there should be no compromise in protecting customer details, particularly when there are significant costs to consider.

Data governance can be a challenge for organizations, however, businesses must consider not just how data is used. The ethical implications of data usage can have significant real-world consequences if ignored. For modern, data-driven organizations, leading the way to a world where data is considered before it is applied is no longer an optional extra – it’s critical for operational survival.

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