Data governance professionals should take advantage of the variety of social media and social networking opportunities available to advance their knowledge, their programs, and their careers
Most data governance initiatives start as a result of an event (discovery of data security breaches, development of a data warehouse, reaction to a poor data quality audit, etc.) or as part of an overall Enterprise Information Management program. The approach to data governance frequently involves research into the topic, investigation of online sites for information, and possibly some discussion with one or more consultants. These are all fine ways to explore the discipline, but this list ignores one very useful approach that is gaining acceptance in the information management field: social networking.
Social networking allows individuals to build communities of people who share interests and activities, and can involve online services (“LinkedIn,” chat, discussion forums, etc.) or personal contact. There are several good social networks for the Enterprise Information Management community, and these can offer opportunities for people interested in data governance to connect with like-minded colleagues for educational and professional purposes.
One type of social networking concerns attendance at conferences and symposia that are focused on a particular area of interest (data governance, information quality, etc.). Conferences serve as a way to meet others who share interest in the topic, who may have experiences that one can draw upon and who may be able to serve as informal resources for developing skills in the area. Conferences on Data Governance provide many short and long-term benefits. Along with spending valuable time in seminars given by many of the leading practitioners in data governance and its companion domains (metadata management, data quality, data security, etc.), attendees are able to form connections with other attendees (from the same geographical region, from the same industry, etc.) and gain valuable insight into data governance concepts and practices.
Another type of social networking involves joining and participating in a professional organization devoted to a professional area of interest. In Enterprise Information Management, the premier professional organization is DAMA – the Data Management Association (http://www.dama.org). With over 40 chapters worldwide, and with the largest annual conference (Enterprise Data World) on all areas of information management, DAMA is probably the largest social network in this field.
Many industries have professional organizations as well, such as the insurance industry’s Insurance Data Management Association (IDMA). Joining an industry-based association can provide yet another view of topics of interest to data management professionals, and the organization’s meetings and conferences can give another opportunity to build a professional network. Most fields have professional organizations. Many of them may be focused on data management, and those organizations that are not designed solely for the data management professional often have special interest groups for data management, data governance, data science, etc.
Why is social networking important for a data governance professional? Data governance is a human-oriented effort, requiring data stewards and others involved in data governance to interact, learn from one another, develop customized approaches to governance issues and implement practices in a constructive manner. All these activities require interpersonal skills that one can develop and refine through interacting in one or more social networks, and if a network also offers learning more about data governance, it serves a dual purpose.
Data Management professionals have labored in the shadows of organizations for many years, sometimes as part of IT, sometimes as part of the business community, with varying degrees of connection to either organization – and frequently with little knowledge of what others in the field are doing. Exploring and participating in the social networks available to information management professionals and to data governance in particular, can benefit each of us and all of us, strengthening the profession and all its practitioners.