CIO head-to-head: Data governance versus ownership

Nadia Cameron, Byron Connolly


We ask three CIOs to share their views on whether IT remains the natural owner of data, or if the lines of responsibility are blurring in their companies.

Who should own and be accountable for data in an organisation, and where does a CIO's responsibility for data and analytics start and stop?

Neill Rose-Innes, CIO, Mortgage Choice
Quite simply, all senior stakeholders should own and be held accountable for data. This naturally includes the CIO and all senior beneficiaries including sales, marketing and finance executives.

There are many layers to enterprise information architecture, with accountability and empowerment being relevant and appropriate to a function's analytical need. It is no longer correct to assume the CIO has the sole mandate to ensure data is there, complete, accurate and ready for reporting.

Yes, the CIO is accountable for the technology, solutions and information architecture. Further, the CIO should be responsible for the effective design and evolution of an enterprise's technology and tools, and is the obvious custodian of enterprise-level data.

Of course, to derive real value from the data and transform this into powerful information, senior execs should and must be accountable for the completeness and accuracy of the data they use when executing their responsibilities.

To facilitate this, greater collaboration between the technology team and the functional areas is necessary to properly define future needs, outputs, data requirements and allocation of responsibilities.

My view is each function needs to understand their reporting needs and should be provided with, or be able to source, the tools that enable them to produce the analytics they require, with centralised data made available as both an output and an input to this (often) decentralised execution.

This has the added benefit of stakeholders taking more ownership of their needs, including data entry and standards, in turn becoming less reliant on a central IT function to prioritise, plan and produce the analytics required. Done correctly, this facilitates agility and effective decision making and does away with competing at an enterprise level for priority and resource.

The challenge here is to ensure that as each business area seeks out and develops its own capability, this is done in concert with the IT function and in the context of a strategic technology roadmap.

One of the most important scenarios to limit is the tendency for business functions to "go it alone" if the IT function is unable to deliver to expectations. This is where the CIO needs to take a strong lead, have a thorough end-user understanding, and have in place strategies to ensure these requirements do not remain ad hoc at a functional level, but find their way formally back into the enterprise data dictionary.

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