Canadian CIOs talk data governance at roundtable

TORONTO – There is often a misunderstanding as to who should take ownership of an organization’s data, said several chief information officers during a round table discussion.

“No, we don’t want to own the data,” said Cecilia Carbonelli, vice-president of IT with Genworth Financial Canada.

“But the business world thinks IT owns the data,” followed Ted Morawiec, president & CEO of e-Net, a Toronto-based performance management system vendor.

Once the business accepts the accountability of owning the data, that will make IT’s job much easier, said Mark Hubbard, senior vice-president of architecture with Toronto-based Citigroup.

Hubbard explained that the business will then more readily sign off on important things like data fixes, which result from flawed processes like data input.

Marian Wilson, vice-president of IT with SOCAN, a Toronto-based organization that collects royalties for its member musicians, said it’s the business, not IT, at SOCAN that has full accountability for report creation and data ownership.

It’s an approach, said Wilson, that did require some light “indoctrination” to educate business users on how the culture around data is changing and what it means for end users.

The observations were made by the group of CIOs during an interactive roundtable discussion on Tuesday hosted by McLean, Va.-based business intelligence vendor MicroStrategy Inc. and Redwood City, Calif.-based data integration vendor Informatica Corp.

“(The business) may own the data but it never showed up in that person’s job description,” said Tony Young
Similarly, maintaining and measuring the quality of that data is a responsibility of the business, the CIOs agreed.

Tony Young, senior vice-president and CIO of Informatica, and co-mediator for discussion, noted that data quality must form part of an individual’s job performance if it is to be taken seriously.

“(The business) may own the data but it never showed up in that person’s job description,” said Young.

“That’s when empowerment is so powerful,” said Morawiec. “It drives your strategy.”

Part of that strategy should include a data governance body to ensure data quality thereby encouraging user trust in the information, said Young.

The group also discussed the topic of data in the cloud, many attendees citing security as the prime reason to not trust data to a third party.

“The concern is you are giving your data to the cloud vendor,” said Peng Xiao, the executive vice-president and CIO of MicroStrategy, also a co-mediator.

Although the cloud is an attractive option because the customer can switch off at any time without being locked in to the vendor, security must be a factor when negotiating an agreement with a cloud provider, said Morawiec.

Carbonelli said she would trust the cloud for certain of Genworth Financial’s applications and data but would keep more sensitive information like customer borrower data on premise.

The advantage, however, of a cloud approach to data management, said Hubbard, is the ability to leverage the provider’s knowledge of servicing numerous clients.

More on ITWorldCanada.comEnterprises have ‘false sense of security’ for data qualityWilson noted that SOCAN’s data is shared among members while a portion is kept private for internal use only. The application of standards, she said, ensures consistency in that what is meant to be private is not shared.

Genworth Financial just begun implementing a data governance body in Canada for its 270 employees, but, initially, challenges were met by the different definitions attached to the multitude of data sources, said Carbonelli.

The roundtable series continues in New York and Los Angeles this week.

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