The role of the CIO is rapidly changing, from being a custodian of tech to a more strategic business role. According to a 2018 Forbes study, CIOs today believe that their most important skill is corporate strategy as opposed to technical know-how five years ago. No surprise then that data and its usage and governance, so key to business strategy, is one of the primary topics that concern CIOs today.

A growing number of CIOs believe in the value of a good data governance program and are enthusiastic about setting up one. However, there are a few challenges they face while doing this.

CIO tackling DG challenges


#1 Convincing the organization to invest in data governance

Designing and implementing a data governance program is one that involves considerable resources and time and it certainly requires funding. One of the biggest challenges any CIO will face is this: finding the money to run the program.

The best way to go about raising funds is to identify data governance champions in the organization, preferably across functions. Together with this ‘core team’, the CIO can create a compelling case for how a data governance program will benefit the organization in

  • Making better, more timely decisions
  • Improving operational efficiency and
  • Protecting against data theft, misuse, and violations.

#2 Knowing where to start

Most organizations are sitting on vast silos of historical data with new data being generated every single day. So the question that CIOs need to answer first is where to really start.

Most data governance programs are established to answer certain business needs: regulatory or compliance requirements, strategy and business intelligence, data architecture and integration, or data privacy and security. But these goals vary by organization. Thus, the best place to start is for the CIO to get all the key business and IT stakeholders on board. They should discuss and agree upon the main goals of the governance program, and then form a plan of action.

#3 Setting ownerships and accountabilities

Historically, IT has been the owner or holder of data and that is why it is a common mistake to view data governance solely as an IT mandate. However, there is a difference between data ownership and data governance and this is a fact CIOs cannot shy away from. So who should be at the apex of the organization’s data governance program—the CIO or the CDO (Chief Data Officer)? Is the role of a CDO, if non-existent, necessary? If both roles exist already, then how should the division of responsibility and ownership be between them?

It is very important that these questions are asked and answered to arrive at answers acceptable to all stakeholders. The CIO and the CDO need to align on the vision and goals for the program as well as their individual accountabilities and involvement in it.

#4 Building the right core team

Designing and implementing a data governance program starts with identifying a core team or the Data Governance Council (DGC), a responsibility that naturally rests with the CIO. In many cases, these roles are often voluntary and finding employees to undertake these over and above their regular responsibilities could become a challenge. In other cases, a large number of people may express interest, but the CIO will need to decide who is ideally suited for such a role in terms of vision, skills and technical know-how.

#5 Choosing the right data governance frameworks

Existing data governance frameworks are a great starting point for any organization just building their governance program. They offer a structured approach to the process and help all the stakeholders involved understand what areas are to be covered.

As the main champion of data governance in the organization, the CIO needs to

  • Identify the framework that is right for the business
  • Tailor it to suit the organization’s unique needs and goals
  • Build the necessary expertise within the team to understand and use it

#6 Ensuring collaboration between stakeholders

The success of any data governance program depends on how effective the DGC is in brainstorming ideas, building consensus, and making timely decisions. Another factor is how well the DGC is able to build collaboration with other teams and stakeholders in the organization. As the CIO sits at the apex of the DGC, ensuring that this happens becomes his or her responsibility.

Within the DGC, the CIO needs to ensure that information flows freely, ownerships and accountabilities are clear, everyone is on board with the plan of action and collaboration between people seamless. In the larger organization, the CIO needs to evangelize the DG program. This will ensure that other teams realize its significance and future impact on their own work and in turn, cooperate with the DGC in its functioning.

#7 Implementing the formulated policies

There’s an entrepreneurship maxim that says “If you have to do something new, you need to do stop doing something old.”

Resistance to change is a natural and inevitable challenge that all CIOs face when they are implementing a new data governance policy. Data custodians across the organization would have developed their own ways and means to collect, analyze, and share data. When they are presented with an alternative way of doing things, it should be convincing that it is more effective than their own.

The best way to address this problem is by inviting some of these data users to collaborate with the DGC to formulate the new policies. They will feel involved and at the same time, the DGC will benefit from their insights.

#8 Keeping up with the times

The CIO’s job does not end with formulating a data governance policy for the organization. They need to ensure that the policy is implemented across the organization and regularly champion its importance to various stakeholders. At the same time, the challenges around data are changing rapidly and so is the technology and thinking around its governance. Therefore, CIOs also need to be cognizant of the fact that the policies formed may themselves need to be revised or updated to meet the latest challenges.


Ultimately, this depends upon your organization’s structure, governance goals, and needs. With our 3-phase data governance strategy, we assess these, identify the challenges and constraints, and help you implement a business-aligned data governance program. If you’d like to speak with our expert team, do get in touch.





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