John Eisenhauer once asked the following question in LinkedIn:
"What is the business problem, in the form of a classic problem statement, that Data Governance is meant to solve?"
Here is a most excellent definition of Data Governance created by Steve Adler's (IBM) Data Governance Council:
"Data governance is a quality control discipline for controlling toxic content and protecting the value in our data. The need for privacy, security, ethics, DQ and auditing means it requires a multi-disciplinary dialogue across your company."
Working backwards, this suggests the following.
There is business value in our data. The proof is that people want access to it, and other people want to protect it:
The business value in our data is not being protected.
It is under siege from toxic content, theft, carelessness, and inappropriate usage. This is exposing us to business risks and lost business opportunities.
This situation has arisen due to the following factors:
If left to decline in value, our data will impact on our ability to operate effectively.
At the very least, our business decisions will not be as good as they could be, and (in the worst cases) could cripple us as an organisation.
A data governance program that aims at retaining the value in our data should mitigate this risk, and may even allow us to discover new business opportunities that we have not been aware of.
- David Jaques-Watson, DAMA International group, LinkedIn, March 2013.