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Big data governance is the management of information used within an organization. It represents all forms of data assets collected by companies, both human and machine generated. It is information that is accessible from anywhere at any time and on any device. 

If you haven’t yet implemented effective big data governance in your organization, you need to review this article to help you make sense of this vital asset management to monitor data quality.

By 2025, experts believe that 175 zettabytes of big data will exist throughout every organization worldwide. Forty-nine percent of that data will reside within a cloud infrastructure.

Data security needs to be your priority, and governance is the only way to guarantee your organization remains compliant. Let's evaluate what that means.

Key takeaways:

  • The three pillars of big data governance are people, processes and technology. Without all three, your organization may not effectively manage its data.

  • Regulations are set in place to ensure that data does not end up in the wrong hands. Big data governance safeguards that information.

  • Audit trails help use information appropriately and effectively, making room for necessary change should that need to occur.

  • In the worst-case scenario, having a big data governance program provides your organization the framework to get back to running without data loss due to system failure.

How does big data governance work and why does it matter?

Security becomes necessary when managing big data. Big data governance includes ensuring big data availability, usability and integrity while not exposing sensitive customer information without good reason.

Big data governance isn't an option but a necessity. It's a fundamental part of the three most important concepts in information security: 

  • Confidentiality

  • Integrity

  • Availability

Data management is not optional when handling sensitive material like company financial records or customer credit card numbers. It makes it all too easy for malicious actors to get their hands on such valuable resources without hesitation if data security is not your priority.

Three pillars of big data governance

As technology has grown over time, data has become a strategic asset. You must structure various applications to formalize the entire data package. This gives your organization the framework to build better big data governance.


There are three pillars to big data governance:

  • People: These roles are that of the big data governance board, which are the people assigned by the domain to govern the data. You also have the data stewards who are the liaisons between business information (BI) and the business. Data custodians are also essential and tasked with the safe custody, transport, storage and implementation of the data.

  • Processes: These are the centralized steps to ensure that storage, processing, archiving and protection of data in the most appropriate and effective methods. These processes may evolve as they discover better methods of data governance frameworks and decision making. 

  • Technology: These are the applications and the tools to govern content and metadata for the business. Data technologies include on-prem data centers, cloud-based data services or a hybrid data storage system. 

Seven benefits of big data governance in your organization

Big data governance can provide an organization with many benefits, such as:

1. Data Compliance  

Regulations are set in place to guarantee that specific information within an organization always remains secure. Big data governance ensures that your organization is complying with the laws and privacy policies. 

When overseeing data within your organization, it’s vital to implement big data governance best practices to make certain that you’re complying with how the industry should be managing this asset. Your organization’s big data governance best practices should include:

  • Implementing data validation

  • Establishing communication channels

  • Developing internal roles

  • Integrating compliance

  • Supervising cybersecurity and risk management

2. Consistency  

Through pre-defined processes, like periodic password change requirements and standardized training, your organization has repeatable patterns that keep your entire team operating at the highest level of efficiency and security. Also, this ensures that anyone new to the organization receives the same security and compliance training.  

3. Security

Big data governance assures the security of all data within the organization. That means that nobody gains access to data unless it’s necessary for them to have it. Regulatory measures keep vital information out of the hands of those who don’t need it or shouldn’t have access.

4. Effective cataloging

Data libraries document and define the information for easy reference. By cataloging data and metrics effectively, stakeholders have self-service capabilities to obtain the information they need to complete their tasks efficiently. 

5. Audit trail

You will have the capability to see who is using what information and at what time. You can ensure that only users with authorization can access data, and you can act in real time when there is a breach.

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You can also see what processes failed and ways to improve workflows. That way, you know that your organization follows the most efficient methods moving forward. In utilizing big data governance, your organization remains agile and adaptive. 

6. Change management

Big data governance allows you to leverage existing solutions with ticketing systems, pre-defined backout plans and detailed audit trails of change throughout the organization’s processes. That way, you can manage that change for more compelling data-driven decisions. 

7. Disaster recovery 

Big data governance provides your organization the tools it needs to secure that data to save and restore that information should a disaster occur. For example, in cases of data system failure, you won’t lose data, whether the data location is on-prem or in the cloud. You can get your system back up and running more quickly.

Manage big data governance more effectively with Optimizely

At Optimizely, we know how to keep your data secure, cataloged effectively and easy to access by authorized users. Our digital solutions safeguard your organization's most vital asset: its data. With the use of AI, we can test new features that allow us to personalize every touchpoint with your digital experience platform.