CIO Leadership, IT Performance

Information Governance is more than just Data Governance

Governance around your most valuable asset - Information

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I was engaged in an interesting discussion whether Information Governance is different from Data Governance. So I re-read my post on Data Governance to see how and where Information Governance would be different. My findings are below:

Miriam Webster defines data as “ … facts used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something,” and information as “ … knowledge that you get about someone or something.” The New Style of IT is bringing into greater focus the contrast between these fundamental definitions; requiring enterprises to give greater attention to their most valuable asset – information. In turn, this requires that enterprises give due attention to Information Governance on top of existing Data Governance.

What is it? Data Governance is the mechanism by which we ensure that: the right corporate data is available to the right people, at the right time, in the right format, with the right context, through the right channels. Information governance is about ensuring the same for the knowledge gathered from this data.

Why is it needed? The Cloud, social networking, BYOD (and now WYOD,) are catalysts, triggering an unprecedented growth of data in recent years. Data Governance is about controlling and understanding the fundamental elements of data, so it can be processed effectively to generate information. Once multiple data elements have been coalesced to realize the Big Picture, different rules are likely to apply. Hence, Information Governance.

When should it be exercised? Well, when shouldn't it be? Data Governance kicks in at the source where the data enters the enterprise and continues across the lifecycle, as it is processed and consumed to address business needs, until it is archived and/or purged. Data Governance ensures that the right data is processed to generate information. Information Governance exercises the proper controls around the information generated across the lifecycle.

Where does it apply? It applies pan-enterprise for all the processes executed. Data Governance has a key role to play at the point of storage – the last checkpoint before it is stored as “golden” in the database. Information Governance has a key role to play at the point of presentation. Have the right data elements been brought together? Is it timely?

Who does it apply to? Both Data Governance and Information Governance applies to all applicable business leaders, consumers, generators and stewards of data and information respectively across the enterprise. However the stakeholders for the information could be different from the stakeholders for the constituent data.

How is it applied? Data Governance must be exercised at the enterprise level, with federated governance to individual business units and data domains. Information Governance is better addressed at the enterprise level since information is usually generated from a diverse array of data sources.

Going through this analysis reminds me of a similar evolution – Building upon SOA Governance to realize Cloud Governance. But that is another story for another day.

How is Data Governance addressed in your enterprise? What are additional steps required to address Information Governance? Please do let me know.

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(5) (5)

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Robert Karel 0 Points | Fri, 02/07/2014 - 17:29

Great post, thanks for starting the discussion.  The data vs. information conversation has been going on for years and in my mind it's a red herring for analysis paralysis.   When I was with Forrester Research we used the term Data to describe structured information, the term Content to describe unstructured information and the combination of the two was simply "Information".  That maps often to how the industry has used the terms.  The structured data world (DI, DQ, DW, etc) often use the word data - leading them to talk about "Data Governance".  And the content management, records management, etc world often use the term Information - hence "Information Governance".   To add to everyone's confusion, the world of BI and analytics often used Data and Informaion to imply an evolution.   Data was raw, and Information was when that data was given context and delivered value. 

Who's right? Everyone and no one. What matters is organizations use the terminology that will best help them to promote their data/information strategies.  And whether you call it Data Governance or Information Governance - organizations better Govern that stuff if they want to ensure business objectives will be met.  In the end aren't we all just looking for Insights to improve processes, decisions and interactions?  Maybe we should be calling it Insight Governance? :-)

BTW, John - regarding your question about Data Governance policies, check out my blog "Data Governance Policies Shape Organizational Behaviors" here (  In addition to the examples in my post, Julie Lockner provided a detailed policy template in one of the comments.  Hope that helps.

Best - Rob

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Wed, 04/23/2014 - 00:12

Thanks for sharing the detailed perspective, Rob.  I really like your proposition to just call this "Insight Governance" -- that is what it is really all about.  As a matter of fact, Insight Governance is more likely to drive action which may not happen as well with just Data Governance.  That said, I do believe we need to distinguish Information Governance from Data Governance because it is very easy to get lost in the maze of data without realizing the big picture. 

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E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Fri, 04/25/2014 - 20:44


Following up on the term you introduced in this dialog -- Insight Governance" --, I took the liberty of referencing it in another post where I discuss the impact of Internet of Things (IoT) on IT -- please take a look at your convenience -

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John Dodge 1535 Points | Mon, 02/10/2014 - 14:38

Rob, Great comment. The data v. information discussion means everything and nothing. A bit existential, but true. The important thing is what you do with the data and information, but I think your definition that information gives raw data context and value is a good way to put it. From there, the governance discussion continues.

It would be great if you posted something here at the ECF about all the elements of a data/info governance policy.



John Dodge 1535 Points | Wed, 01/22/2014 - 18:10

Is there a good example of a data governance policy out there....something that can also be tailored to the unique requirements of each organization? Or do they all have to concieved and written from scratch (I would think not...)?

E.G. Nadhan 271 Points | Wed, 01/22/2014 - 19:26

Good question, John.

But ...

Even if it exists, will it be shared?  The very act of sharing this "information" (policy example) must be in compliance with the Information Governance mechanisms in place!

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