The Significance of Data Governance
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The Significance of Data Governance

By Scot Hansen, Enterprise Data Governance Director, Farm Bureau Financial Services

The ever-changing landscape of technology and innovation coupled with delivering improved customer experienceshas driven increased pressure for insurance companies to identify new competitive advantages. At the center of this is data. The insurance industry has always relied on data to predict outcomes and set the price on a policy, yet the exponential growth of internal and third-partydata has many companies increasing their reliance upon Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics to reduce expenses, increase market share, drive profitable growth, and meet new customer expectations. This has created many opportunities and challenges within the insurance industry and within Farm Bureau Financial Services. Specialized teams within the organization are no longer the only groups analyzing data and developing scorecards and dashboards.  With recent technology advances and minimal training, the average business user can access and create complex visualizations and analyses. Therein lies the challenge, and with the onset of these self-service capabilities it is vital to have strong data governance processes in place and to build a strong user community. 

"At its core data governance enables companies to leverage data as an enterprise asset, by ensuring data is well defined, trusted, fit for purpose, secured, and managed across the company and disparate systems"

At its core data governance enables companies to leverage data as an enterprise asset, by ensuring data is well defined, trusted, fit for purpose, secured, and managed across the company and disparate systems. Data governance: however, goes beyond this and applies to the prioritization, processes, resources, tools, and support models needed for BI and analytical initiatives. Governance does have a stigma surrounding it, like “this is just more red tape”; however, when implemented correctly it can increase your overall effectiveness as an organization. Only through an established and evolving BI governance framework can you manage the “supply” and “demand” for BI, multiple versions of the truth syndrome, and expansion of self-service and data discovery capabilities.

Regardless of the technology or support model being utilized at the end of the day it comes down to adding value and what I like to term “focusing on the majors” and this is where governance and senior leadership plays an integral role.Fully supported by leadership, governance processes streamline the data and reporting life cycle through a consistent approach that ensures the data is accurate and trusted, attributes and metrics are well defined, the intended audience is identified, the information is secured, and that the results are timely and drive action while providing clarity and context. To move the needle on insurance analytics, BI and analysis must focus on the process and let the data drive the outcomes. 

To support self-service capabilities within the business, it is important to build a strong user community. Some might consider this a Center of Excellence, but we have termed this a Community of Practice.  Our main goal is to continuously grow the BI capabilities that support the business through the sharing of business and technical knowledge, creation of best practices based on internal and external standards, andthe development of employees. It is designed to engage and supportour data analytics teams throughout our organization to proactively work side-by-side to ensure our data is leveraged to its fullest not only to deliver reliable reporting and analysis, but more importantly to discover new insights that allow us to increase our competitive advantage.

The reliance on Business Intelligence, Analytics, and data is vital to business success and is rapidly expanding. Through governance, we are building the foundation to have the right policies, processes, roles, and technology in place toposition our company to leverage data to discover new insights and enhance data-driven decisions to protect the livelihoods and futures of our client members.

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