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In an increasingly digitalised world, the systematic collection, interpretation and use of data is becoming a factor in success. If a company fails to do this, it will lose a key tool needed to stay competitive and innovate in the age of digitalisation.

Data is for companies what water is for humans

We often find that digitalisation initiatives and innovative use cases in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT) lack a foundation of data on which to build on. As a result, these projects fail or are unable to realise their full potential. To use an analogy, it is like trying to construct a building designed by an award-winning architect on quicksand.

A good data foundation involves more than just having vast amounts of data. The opposite is actually true. Companies can drown in data if there is too much of it. They need to find ways to keep track of what data is available, what information it contains and how they can access it.

Along with the quantity and transparency of data, the quality of data is another essential aspect. Similar to drinking water, data can become contaminated and thus be undrinkable or even cause harm if consumed. Mechanisms are therefore needed to ensure that data is and remains reliable, consistent and trustworthy. Just think of a company’s customer master data and the impact that incorrect or contradictory records could have for sales, marketing and/or delivery and invoicing. I am sure you can think of other examples.

And while we are on the topic of customer and personal data, we must not lose sight of the general and industry-specific laws and regulations that, if not observed, can result in heavy penalties being imposed or damage to the company’s reputation. We therefore need to find a way to ensure compliance while also keeping the number of use cases and projects to a minimum.

What is data governance?

Put simply, data governance comprises a catalogue of rules that defines how data is handled across the organisation. This could include many things. For that reason, data governance is divided into three areas:

  • (1) Data organisation: The catalogue of rules described above is defined in the data organisation. It includes, for example, roles, processes, responsibilities, tasks and corporate guidelines for handling data within the company.
  • (2) Data management: Data management includes the implementation of the data organisation rules on an operational level, which includes, for example, managing the data life cycle, cataloguing data, measuring quality and monitoring compliance.
  • (3) Data solutions: Data technologies include IT tools that support us in data management, be that, for example, data platforms and data catalogues. This could also include technical policies such as rights and privileges as well as system workflows that automate certain data management tasks.

Riding the wave of success with data governance

For many companies, data governance might seem like a stale and boring topic at first glance. But this could not be further from the truth. Data governance allows companies to align their organisation with their strategic plans. Data governance is what facilitates data-based projects and objectives. It can also be used to drive sustainable improvements.

Digitalisation, AI, IoT, data mesh, data-based business models and process optimisation – no matter what your goals and ideas for the future might be, the three areas of data governance can help to make them come true. And this raises exciting questions that each company must answer for themselves:

  • What form does the collaboration take?
  • What are the right IT tools for data management?
  • How are operational and strategic decisions made?
  • How are quality, compliance, speed and innovation prioritised at the company?


Any company that is looking to optimally support AI use cases or build data-based business models has different requirements and goals than one that only wants to improve data quality or ensure that sensitive data is protected. Data governance can help the company achieve its individual requirements and goals. That said, it is not an end in itself, rather it helps companies achieve greater success.

What we have to offer

adesso supports you throughout each phase of your data governance initiative, starting with the initial evaluation of your existing data organisation, the maturity assessment, the design and rollout of a new data organisation, the use of data change management to actively shape the change process, support during the adoption of data governance practices, all the way to the technical implementation of data solutions.

You will find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our latest blog posts.

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Picture Sebastian Dienst

Author Sebastian Dienst

Sebastian Dienst is a Senior Consultant in IT Management Consulting at adesso. His expertise lies in the areas of strategy, enterprise architecture, organisational development and governance in the context of IT, cloud and data.

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