#012: The Governance of the Data

Most people find the concept of governance about as interesting as an afternoon of quality control work at the beige paint factory. If you agree with this sentiment and are listening to this week’s podcast, we hope to change your mind! With special guest John Lovett, Senior Partner at Web Analytics Demystified, Tim, Michael and Jim talk about what governance is for a digital analytics practice, why it’s so darned important, and how anyone can get started. All of this AND a little poetry (really!) for the low, low price of 45 minutes of your time, in the Digital Analytics Power Hour.


Episode Transcript

The following is a straight-up machine translation. It has not been human-reviewed or human-corrected. We apologize on behalf of the machines for any text that winds up being incorrect, nonsensical, or offensive. We have asked the machine to do better, but it simply responds with, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

[00:00:25] Hi everyone. Welcome to the digital analytics power hour. This is Episode 12. Tonight we’re talking about. Data

[00:00:32] Governance data governance and digital analytics is pretty important topic and one that probably doesn’t get as much attention and love as it probably deserves. Joining me are two other hosts Tim Wilson.

[00:00:45] Hey and Jim Kane and to add some additional spice to the mix a man who needs no introduction but I’ll give a small anyways John.

[00:00:57] Love it. He’s a senior partner at web analytics demystified. Yeah kind of a leader in thinking about the topic of data governance. He also has the small distinction of being the only person in the analytics community have ever written a poem about. Maybe I should call it for you right now. You must. There once was a man. Lord love it. This goes to his nautical past which every Analytics Conference did covet his jolly demeanor a social gathering convener and the lobby bar will do. You’ll love it. Thank you. Welcome John.

[00:01:35] Oh Michael you. In the event that you and I disagree. Be warned that I might just tell you to shove it.

[00:01:46] Is more of that is outstanding welcome. We’re glad to have you back. Pleasure to be here. Let’s kick off and start in on this topic of Data Governance and starting on you know specifically in the realm of digital analytics there’s some special aspects of data governance that probably are a little unique to our industry and actually offer it to the U3 first. What are the first things you think of when you think data governance and how do you start addressing that problem and in an organization me will be nice and let John start.

[00:02:23] Well it’s a tough one because data governance means so many different things to so many different people. The way I like to explain it and I’ll take a little bit of liberty here being a guest on this on this podcast. Imagine if you will.

[00:02:35] I’m the leader of our organization so I’m the CEO and the three of you guys are my three chiefs. You guys are all BP is government to me is if I make a decision that the three of you are going to be able to reenter reiterate and repeat that decision and communicate it out to the rest of the enterprise.

[00:02:56] So if we can all get on the same page and act the same way and act according to the same standards that’s governance.

[00:03:03] So you obviously don’t listen to this show because the idea of us all being on the same page and that’s it now.

[00:03:10] Just kidding. But in reality that’s like most organizations right you’re not always going to have total harmony and total agreement which in turn is why it needs some protocol for governance.

[00:03:21] No I think that’s that’s a good starting point and actually a good frame of reference so where do you go from there.

[00:03:26] Well you know for me it’s I do believe that every different type of company and we’re going to keep our conversation focused here. Two digital analytics governance because we could talk about so many different kinds of governance. But let’s you know let’s stick to the topic at hand here whether you’re a big enterprise or a small shop. You need governance and your culture dictates in certain terms how much governance you need. Now if you are a small organization that’s nimble you could probably get away with some light governance just simply having having common definitions understanding where you get it comes from and understanding the right ways to be able to utilize your data. As you get to become a bigger organization or as you know if you are a big enterprise you need more governance. So specifics about who gets access how do you manage data quality. How do you ensure the ongoing one Javadi of that quality. You know there’s lots of different things that come into play here but to me there’s you know whether it’s a formalized approach or something more casual. I think governance as you know in companies probably have governance to some extent and they may not even know it.

[00:04:37] They call it governance but they’re governing their data up because they have common definitions and they’re using it in the same way across the organization. And again this is all kind of blue sky stuff because many companies don’t have these things but that would be the perfect world is there. At least they had common definitions and were able to talk about data in a common way.

[00:04:59] And I think that that’s actually a great intro. Jim up there in Canada where are you seeing governance happen where you intersect with socialist socialist governance. I think that the form of governance you have I think his perspective is unique in that he’s seeing both sides of the border maybe feeling the outcome to be really trying to be known.

[00:05:21] In Canada. Governance is required because whoever owns the largest seal Tusk just gets to be in charge. So we don’t have these problems here. I think it is one of the ones who originally asked for this topic it’s one of my new favorite things to talk about and I’ve come at it from a really different level because of the kinds of work that we do like long term engage with big companies. And there is there is and I’m sure we’re all going to touch on this at some point but there’s little to no concept of governance of any kind even like just you don’t call it governance you just call it documentation and remembering what the hell you did last month. Very very little of it in a digital practice and we’ve really come at it from the perspective of what I call called governance. If shit if shit happens how do we have some kind of mechanism to deal with it immediately and not spend three hundred hours trying to do root cause. So how do we appropriately document what we’ve done. What things are called even basic things like let’s all agree on what our marketing campaign should be called an audit them once a quarter. We’re spending a lot more time on it. It’s almost like you know if she had insurance I thought John said that was really neat. And it’s one of the things I’m hoping to learn from you guys on today is beyond that practical tactical you know again basic governance that I’m talking about. We’ve seen a lot of wins in it.

[00:06:37] But John you didn’t lead with write down everything that you did and make sure it stays that way. You talked about kind of sweet alignment which I think is pretty bad ass but I wouldn’t know how to. Other than having lots of conversations build that into a methodology. So looking forward to hearing some more about that for me again it’s more like insurance. I don’t know if that’s a good way to describe it.

[00:06:57] Mean I think I think it’s definitely there there’s kind of that data out I’ll say I am the sort of person that I feel like that’s the phrase it’s like it’s really important but it also triggers narcolepsy in me and I wind up when I think about governance I’m often thinking of data collection and data quality like that we know where it’s coming.

[00:07:22] We have are to have a current solution design document. Do we have a mechanism in place to know that that data is somewhat complete that every order gets placed on the website gets logged as an order and it seems like when the people get jazzed about it Michael and John it winds up getting brighter than that. And to me that’s the stuff that the hard stuff is that the data quality and that data completeness because we’ve got multiple systems. And so when you say something like campaign I had an e-mail late last week where it was paid search agency and we were going back and forth about campaign tagging. It was having it and she said oh you know what I realized we’re talking about two different things. When we say campaign she was kind of thinking. Edwards campaign and I was thinking. Campaign Web analytics tool. And they’re like related and similar.

[00:08:19] So we got a couple of iterations in the thread before we realized that I thought she was talking about exactly what I was talking about and vice versa. So even those little things when you’ve got you know exact target and Adobe analytics heaven forbid you’ve got Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics and just trying to get agreement on for these core measures What’s the system of record and what can we and can we not do with the other systems and how are we making sure that the data isn’t breaking.

[00:08:53] And we’ve got it documented more on that data capture front less so on the data usage front.

[00:09:01] The reporting and maybe that’s because I feel like I have a really good system in my world for consistently repeatability for you know generating reports or analyses.

[00:09:13] But I’ll admit it just feels like it goes all over the place as to what it even is.

[00:09:18] Well and that’s a really great point is mapping a metric into the organization through governance that needs to live around even that process just because I hate campaign a campaign to do for definitions a lot of organizations struggle with definitions even around the customer or what’s a new customer. Different departments different groups have different definitions of what those things are and understanding how he here’s my digital data and here’s how it maps into these definitions. Really important stuff because again using the data making decisions within interpreting it without that governance kind of puts you in a bad spot sometimes or could put you in a bad spot. I think we’re jumping around some topical areas of data governance and maybe you would love me pull a thread here that they kind of I think Tim started and you just picked up on.

[00:10:09] So Tim talked about the collection and the quality which are very much analytics implementation type of data governance topics. And then what you just mentioned was what I consider to be presentations. So the two are kind of the other side of the coin. Right so if as an analyst you’re responsible for data collection and data quality there’s an inherent responsibility on the business user on how they use that data that a lot of times organizations have no control over the analytics group has has no control over it. Let me give you an example. So let’s say somebody is doing campaign analysis. They built the campaign. They have self-service access to their data and they go in and they nay and they look at the information and they don’t really misrepresented. But they look at it in a way that’s going to tell the story that they wanted to tell. Yeah it wasn’t reality that might be you know that’s a bad presentation technique because they were looking at a segment that was so narrow that it just told the story they wanted it to tell or you know miss something entirely. I think that governance around how data is presented is a very important thing that that rarely gets addressed.

[00:11:22] I completely agree with that and some of that need emerge in practice as an analyst you know because you would see different groups dive into your very well curated Adobe analytics garden and come out with a bouquet. That was ridiculous from the perspective of the analyst. There’s almost a need to be able to certify the interpretation ahead of presentation in some way so that people don’t misuse that just made metaphors into a Rose Garden.

[00:11:56] Well I mean this is I think we do a little bit of stuff that kicked around beforehand.

[00:12:01] I do think there is a there’s a challenge when you have when you have 40 vars with different allocation and explorations and they’re all labeled cryptically shoved into the name as to which ones those are. I mean I think it’s much much less common for somebody to say I’m going to go pull the data and find the story that I want to tell and much much more well intended.

[00:12:22] I am in a tour that just lets me just walk right off the cliffs and not be not be aware of it and pull something that says hey this is you know I thought this campaign went well and I pulled the numbers and it seemed like it was the right that was they were the right numbers. And it backed up. It was actually even better than I expected. So there’s no warning bells going off for that person.

[00:12:44] And definitely have been in cases where you say that’s why you need it behooves you if something looks too good to be true or if you’re doing anything beyond the basics you should have somebody who is much deeper on the collection and the quality front review it. But that doesn’t produce a delay.

[00:13:00] I’ve seen it to the point of yeah.

[00:13:03] We’re having enough of a problem with that. We’re just going to not provide access to the tool at all.

[00:13:07] Which is kind of comical when you think about how much the platform vendors are talking about the democratization of the data and you’ve got at times analysts who are so sick and tired of having you know getting hauled into the Simos office to you know gently explain that you know this marketing manager just presented something that was totally false and the analyst gets blamed for it. You know I mean it’s it gets ugly but it’s not a simple things we say everything is going to be reviewed by somebody who really understands the data.

[00:13:36] Then your throughput goes goes down. And so I don’t I don’t know the answer although as I’m want to do I will point the finger at the tools a little bit of it. Ben Gades always appreciates that had I tried to not list tools by name but I guess if I say for bars with different allocations maybe that’s why I’m not going to tell you who it is.

[00:13:59] But it used to rhyme with Slon nature.

[00:14:03] I mean it’s a great tool with great I guess that’s the thing is you don’t. You don’t walk out. I mean I will I will totally legitimate case that you don’t take I’m not going to go out and drive in the Daytona 500. Great. I mean that’s when you have more. You’re asking for more sophisticated analysis. The data I think actually it doesn’t. If you want to do analysis if you make your data 50 percent more sophisticated you’ve somehow exponentially increased the opportunities to misuse or you know misinterpret that data.

[00:14:34] So it’s it really is not a straight up you know blaming the tools that you have for evil. That’s because somebody had business requirements that said we need to be able to look at our channels this way this way this where this way and somebody diligently documented that and implemented it then that’s exposed to all the world who has access to that implementation.

[00:14:55] There’s a part of me though that wonders is this a realm for the tools or is this the proper look you know. Can the tools really solve this problem. I mean all this stoned out there is a question to us like are there tools that help manage or govern interpretation and delivery or presentation of data and insight. You know there’s some things you can do with a tab blower to create news and things like that. But I mean is that really the solution or is it something else beyond that.

[00:15:24] Pretty much. My thought is that again we’re coming into it for maybe a different perspective that good governance is like a good project management like project management software out there. And there are some tools that we use that assist in governance and some of the data capture vendors have components that make a governance program smoother.

[00:15:44] But if you don’t have someone who knows what the heck they’re doing is moving everything forward and achieving consensus and making sure things are done particularly a period of time then all you’re doing is buying more shit just 4 lines of code will fix your problems and you know we’re also not saying people process and technology is kind of at the center of all this but we all probably agree that’s true but there are vendors out there that help with the problem of data quality from a collection and completeness perspective.

[00:16:13] The auditing systems like observe point hubs can I do think there is there is an opportunity for the tools to Google almost as it accidentally because out of there. If you were capturing advanced data you can’t get to it easily without writing it you know setting up a customer report. So you’re kind of in a sense you kind of have to. There is a little bit of a law firm you can’t you it’s harder to wander into the troublespot because you have to actually know how to make a custom report.

[00:16:42] But I definitely we’ve had threads actually as you know there was a thread a while back and I think Eric Madis might be the one to put it into the exchange that the actual true documentation of implementations is never built into any of the web analytics platforms.

[00:17:02] You know why can’t I get my SDR. Literally the three or four things that I need to store all this kind of stored is what the actual settings were. But I don’t get that definition. I don’t get any hierarchy. You know what’s it. What’s it used for. I don’t get the ability to say hi this for anybody who doesn’t at least isn’t at least kind of an advanced user. So that’s I realize that’s heading down into the weeds into one very kind of narrow specific component. I

[00:17:27] guess my take on it is that I don’t think that the analytics vendors should be responsible for governance. I mean we’re talking about things that they could do to help with that. So you know putting those user access or hiding data from some users you know those are kind of feature switches that you should be able to flip to protect people. But I don’t think the vendors should be responsible. They can aid you know what Adobe tried to do with their anomaly detection is an example of how can we start to govern this so that people will pick up on things more quickly. But again it comes down to the individual.

[00:18:02] So you know that didn’t get edited out. That’s just looking down that disaster the a feature actually works.

[00:18:09] I think what John is trying to say is that it’s not about technology it’s about people. Like I said before Michael disagree with me. So John I think I think you’re going down exactly the right. Of course.

[00:18:21] That’s what I mean.

[00:18:23] Oh I mean he is writing javascript. You can put comments in JavaScript so I am going to stop it’s kind of like the vendors are responsible for privacy either. No they’re not responsible for actually putting it in. But when they’re literally things that make the most sense to have a home in concert. And even companies have to go and kind of invent how they’re going to link the things together with kind of. But absolutely it’s not. I mean it’s like project management if you give somebody a great Project Management tool and if they’re not good project managers they’re still going to kind of screw it up. So I’m not saying it’s up to the vendors to solve a Vernons but for the vendors to actually say given the complexity of our system this is kind of a natural way to do governance and manage a spreadsheet and hope that it’s sitting in your file sharing your network share somewhere that somebody is maintaining it. When changes are made and we’re going to have log access systems that are damn near impossible to use unless you’re in there every day that is actually hindering the people who are saying I can lay out a governance program I’m going to sound like such.

[00:19:35] Let me just clarify a couple things here Jim Kane first I don’t disagree that the way that I’ve seen governance work especially around the interpretation of data has been focused on people. But I further wonder how do we incorporate technology at that point in the process. And the reason I wonder that is because could that be a bridge to not having to restart this process as you lose those people. So like do we have to just come to grips with a term like hey every three years you’re going to need to restart this whole thing because that’s what’s happening across analytics organizations is there churning through and people are leaving and the person who owns this process.

[00:20:13] That’s exactly right. That’s why it’s a it’s a it’s a people thing. Right. I mean you need to continually train your people on what governance or how you’re governing your data and how data should be utilize.

[00:20:24] And I don’t agree with that but I’m saying what is the opportunity for technology to help with that on the presentation side.

[00:20:33] And this is something I preach all the time which is so this is a training of analysts for anybody pulling the data because it’s because it’s been me in the ass enough earlier in my career that when I came back a month later two months later and somebody said remember that analysis you did. Can you go and do it again or can you dig into it.

[00:20:51] I didn’t embed the documentation. It’s easy if you’re pulling data in an automated fashion whether it’s from Google Analytics and one of the platforms middleware there or if it’s Adobe analytics and its report builder it’s pretty easy to just get in the habit of saying I’m going to record I’m going to do a data export I’m going to make sure to include what segments what dimensions what time frame.

[00:21:15] And I’m going to kind of bill by end of my process. And to be fair a lot of analysts don’t do that like I’ve had that happen an analyst has done something and the first thing I want to do is replicate it and I can’t. And then I asked them How did you get this number like that.

[00:21:30] I don’t know why the hell did you not use three extra cells on this Excel spreadsheet in the background to record that. So it could be replicated. So I guess that that gets to the governance on the presentation front kind of what’s your best practice when you poll data as soon as you transform or you better say what your source was and you know how you got it and what you did to it.

[00:21:51] So maybe I’m starting to understand that part of that is governance.

[00:21:54] Can I ask a question to you guys. So the first actually I saw a year and a half ago John the presentation you talked about governance I really quite liked it and it was a little bit more of a kiss principle approach.

[00:22:05] But I’ve seen several presentations on governance over my career that frankly scared the shit out of me it looks like the Manhattan Project. You know you just see these these gigantic death by Vizio approaches to these committees feeding these things and really the takeaway to me at that time was this isn’t something my organization is capable of being a part of because it’s just too complicated. And then what’s interesting today is everybody is giving kind of again tactical practical worth. If analysts think to do these things that’s governance too. So you know when you’re approached are everybody because we’ve all talked about it with customers. What’s what are the best practices for the organization. It’s culturally not there yet. Want to get started.

[00:22:50] John I think well I think it comes into I think you for lack of a better way to say you sneak it in. And by that I mean a lot of governance is process and workflow. So how are we going to add new tags for your feature. How are we going to provide the ability to access that data and report out on it. How are we going to protect you from yourself by not giving you access to certain some of the data that you may not be able to utilize. I think you you don’t necessarily say here’s our governance. You say you know this is the workflow. These are the things that you know here’s our intake process for analytics requests and what you’re going to get is if you’re not a super user you’re going to get a pre formatted report that’s going to and here’s what this report is going to tell you. So a little bit of handholding to get them to the point of accepting data and being able to understand what data they have without putting a bunch of you know restrictions around it.

[00:23:53] You know you’re kind of spoon feeding them if you will in our practice we’ve seen tag management be this catalyst for Data Governance in so many situations because it first exposes you to I didn’t even realize those tags were on my Web site. They’re buried inside of an old double click tag. I was on a call the other day and I was like hey you know you’ve got Yahoo analytics still on here. And they’re like No we don’t like lonely kind of do Goostrey says Do you know and so we dug in and we found out where it was coming from. So that’s the first thing and the second thing is once you start running it all through one place you’ve now given yourself one platform to own and manage and all process can flow through that one place inside that tag management tool and so that forces you to be like well. Well let’s back up a step and talk about who’s allowed to put tags on our website who’s allowed to update our analytics tagging. When should we. Now you’re going down a good path. Sometimes that’s the entry point. But the other place where you see it is when you when you start going good you do some insights that actually are making the business money. Somebody at some point is going to be like how do I protect the golden goose here from things like lost data or somebody else coming along and really messing this up. And that’s when governance comes in and says OK how do I create a system we keep going on this path.

[00:25:13] So that’s the kind of two entry points I’ve seen.

[00:25:16] So I want to ask a question related to that is it curious to know opinions of this group I’ve got some of my own. But the idea of the chief data officer or more recently I work with organization they had a data czar is there an individual that can be accountable for stewarding that data as a whole for an organization they are but I’m going to jump on this one.

[00:25:38] It’s interesting because part of this is having on the path of putting the day or Nince as a core process or what I have seen large organizations.

[00:25:47] And then what I’ve also seen I guess when Alexa is a little more on the referee is that a big part of daily governance or the person who owns it is actually going and understanding the existing processes and saying what we’re going to do is take the core processes as we have that have nothing to do. We’re not built for data. But it’s our web development process. And anytime something new goes into production we need to add one more step in that process to say have you paying the analyst. Have you done whatever there may be. Are there data ramifications. And so you don’t wind up there’s a lot of data governance. To me that is not it’s not in the data. What are what are we doing on whatever schedule for data governance. What are the processes that are currently feeding the data you know assessing those processes which are these are most likely to change which ones are most likely to break data. How are we effecting change on those processes which are likely owned by somebody else entirely their own they’re owned by the PMO they’re owned by I.T. so that if you have that that person and I worked at a large when I worked at a large insurance company and there it was customer data.

[00:26:58] But they actually said okay this guy is going to do customer data data governance as part of his job and it took him about three months of digging in and understanding what it was and he made a business case and said Not only is this a full time job I need a team of two people because I have to touch all of these other processes and I can’t touch them I have to go and negotiate and cajole and check in on and make sure those processes have been tweaked and that that was a very legitimate and necessary role with the size of the organization and the criticality of that data so that he actually own very own some documentation you own very little and in processes he was integrating with other processes.

[00:27:38] I always get to say I think that the role of chief data officer is an important role. I think that I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years there were a lot of them and there’s a chief data officer or magazine or whatever but I them dot com on that one. Swimsuit Issue on that baby is going to be route that Tim Wilson centrefold was pretty weird last month. Right. I think it’s a very aspirational gag. You know I think the kind of organization that could take advantage of that person right now you know would be like hiring a senior vice president of hope and faith. You know it’s an aspirational I’d like this school. Tim did you like that you want to steal that for your next presentation. You can have that.

[00:28:20] Yes. I’m not very far away from where you’re landing Jim which is I agree that this conceptually is really important. But what I’ve noticed is that when those rules existed we’ve interacted with them in our practice typically digital data has somehow just skipped right over that office and they don’t understand it. They’re not involved with it it’s not a thing that they’re doing stuff with. And to the extent they are they are more a hindrance and a help sometimes. That being said the path leads to that. I feel like each organization has to organically get to that point. And so many of them are still at this fundamental step. I have analytics but I don’t believe anything it tells me because it’s all real and it’s a sad it’s a sad statement. That’s where 90 percent of our industry still is today. But that’s kind of where and that’s we’re not going to have Chief Data Officers until their jobs. Well that is basically their job is to run the you know the audit scan to make sure all the tags and Keevers are in place. That’s the role of a chief data officer. I think a chief data officer has to on the other aspects of governance as well across the organization and to the extent that there’s not value coming from those boards and CEOs and executive suites are not going to position someone in that role until there’s actual like value or value protection coming out of that in a very big way.

[00:29:46] The people I’ve seen who have been not necessarily a sea level title but have had that sort of title that the pitfalls the pitfalls are kind of twofold. They’re related.

[00:29:55] One is that the role of actually prioritizing the data doesn’t happen. It’s I have a spreadsheet with a list of variables. I have a spreadsheet with a list of data sources I have a spreadsheet with the list of data elements I can’t remember there was there was a case where somebody asked for you know they wanted a mapping and a description of every data element coming out of some system and Reichel 25 percent of these are like crap and random like you like we can tell you which ones matter which ones don’t.

[00:30:24] And they were kind of going through wanting to have their complete catalog so they were trying to you know eat the whole elephant in one bite. And then related to that if you put somebody in that role and you’ve got the executive saying My expectation is that any chink in the data is that person’s responsibility they have an expectation that you can kind of eat the whole elephant once as well as opposed to taking any sort of an incremental approach and saying this is the data gold and matters the most. We must capture orders and we need to be measuring multiple times a day we need to be confirming that orders are being accurately captured in our system you know social cliques social sharing cliques that happened 12 times a month on random obscure pages on our site. We don’t need to check that four times a day. We don’t need to be you know over monitoring it but I’ve watched and watched that happen where somebody says I’m going to put monitoring in place or I’m going to put processes in place to cover everything. And you know like wow it took exactly as much time and investment and ongoing investment to do something that almost never matters as it took to measure something that supercritical and you wound up with in the average so that people in a judgment of of not taking a simplistic approach and putting some nuance into what about this matters the most.

[00:31:44] And let’s put some priorities in there so I can keep ending with rants that you guys are like shut the hell up.

[00:31:51] No sorry I wasn’t listening. I mean it’s really it’s a problem that hits organizations at many different levels because there’s a technology level. There’s a business process level and there’s even sort of an action or or know an action level I don’t know. So as analysts we kind of are struggling to kind of like grab both ends of this and stick it together. Are we even the right people to make this solve.

[00:32:20] I think I want to ask John a question because it may put the rest of it in perspective for me and it’s kind of a two parter but the concept of governance or process governance or whatever you want to call it or anything at the enterprise I’m guessing is not a five year old concept that’s been around for decades right. Of course how many companies are actually doing it properly for like anything. I would say it’s probably a very low percentage. So you know we’re talking with the EVP of hope and faith right. We should we should be doing it and I think the cool thing about digital is it’s wait a minute.

[00:32:52] Let me let me retract I’m sitting in for one second. So when we talk about governance for financial accounting that says there’s one place you know when we talk about digital analytics that’s where it gets much more slippery and that’s the big distinction there. Yes there’s been governance forever and I’m not as close to it but maybe the governance over business intelligence is much stronger than what we have because they say OK here’s the data that you have access to. You can cut it this way or this way or whatever way you deem fit. But it has to pass through the data quality checks before it gets distributed to the organization and web analytics partly because we’re still maturing as an organization or as an industry. Hey ahead grab Google Analytics data do whatever the hell you want with it. That’s sort of been the Wild West where we know our industry hasn’t had that governance but I do think it exists in enterprises. I mean there’s lots of big companies out there that will help you do help an enterprise data governance. You know in that in the big sense of the data world. But US and analytics world. I think it’s still a little bit of a maverick society where you can kind of get away with shoot from the hip and do you know how to do whatever you want with data which is wrong. But that’s that’s the reality of what happened.

[00:34:12] Yeehaw. Rafe because here we all are. But in 25 years maybe there’s going to be generally accepted analytics rules like there are for. You know I don’t like fast. Yeah

[00:34:23] we have our own little Sarbanes-Oxley for GAAP. Yeah generally generally accepted analytics Beth principles.

[00:34:32] It’s got a very patrician ring to it.

[00:34:34] Let me just touch on something that we addressed earlier. Maybe maybe tag management is a way to oversee that in some some ways. Because since they have a perspective on tag’s or you know tags on pages you know maybe that would be a good check to say okay well here’s the here’s the standards by which we may manage our governance because I don’t think it’s going to there’s too many there’s too many different technologies at play. You can’t say that your Adobe your Googles in charge of governance because what about all the other tools you are using. I mean you guys talk about tools all the time on this podcast so we know that it’s not a singular tool world it’s a you know Scott Braker slide where there’s you know eight eight or nine 100 different tools that we’re talking about.

[00:35:18] Yeah that’s a good point.

[00:35:19] But and that is that if you take all of the tools that are generating and collecting data if you took tag management and you actually that converged with the auditing tools just to cover your tags. Right. All those technologies that can be detected on a site or in the wild you can see having assessed a process in place where you hook them up so we’re going to track. We’re going to make sure we’re logging when somebody is explicitly making a change.

[00:35:45] We’re also going to monitor for you know variations in that tag and we’re going to kind of make those together there’s somebody to actually set that up and manage that process.

[00:35:56] Well this has been a good conversation. So let’s maybe go around round robin maybe do a wrap up and maybe throw out an idea. Hey if I’m thinking about governance for the first time like what can I do to take a proactive step for my organization. What’s a good first thing for me to do.

[00:36:14] So I’ll I’ll take one because I kind of want to actually on the presentation of the data governance and we we sort of danced around this but I did this years ago at an organization and it worked really really well which was we actually developed for the analyst organization.

[00:36:31] We who were who did we were touch and CRM data analytics data. There’s stuff in the warehouse or even some ERP data and we had an organization where anybody could get in and accessed data. And so what we did was that we’re going to kind of kill two birds with one stone. We’re going to come up with a style guide for what we produce from a from a presentation of visualization perspective. And by doing that it’s going to be very clear to the organization our staff will look better and we’ll learn best practices for presentation and communication. But the real reason that we had this explicitly stated was that we want to have the stuff that’s being produced from the B AI organization. This stuff has a higher level of scrutiny because we have internal reviews were more knowledge about the data. So if somebody sees a default Excel chart that shows something that’s some product marketing managers showing they is going to be kind of implicit and clear to everyone that that didn’t come through kind of the seal of approval process and it will encourage people to run their stuff by us or use our resources to kind of check their work because they knew it would kind of come out.

[00:37:44] It would look better would be kind of their motivation but the fact is it would be clear and have more credibility in the organization because it had been kind of vetted by us. So it was a way that we kind of slip in a highly desirable workflow without trying to enforce the workflow or walk down access to the data.

[00:38:01] That’s all I got a. So we’re not doing wrapup today Michael we’re just sharing our like get your toes in the governance water.

[00:38:09] No I wanted to try to find a way for us to give somebody a leg up on this. You know as people listen maybe they want to actually do something about what we say.

[00:38:21] I don’t know what I got I got on so I don’t answer your question about what somebody is thinking about governance and how they start what do they do to me it breaks down into two different two different buckets. And you need to ask yourself where is the bigger issue for your company the company that you work with. The first one you need to look at is do we have a data quality problem. Do we have problem with the way that we’re collecting data the way that we are we’re configured the way that our tools collect and the data is that our issue or on the other side the other bucket would be do we have a presentation problem to our business users misinterpret the data or misspeak about the data or simply out of ignorance not know how to utilize the data. And once you can kind of pivot on is it a quality issue or is it a presentation issue that will tell you what to do if it’s a quality issue. You need to start auditing your data. It’s a technical problem. Get out there get one of the tools at your data look at your solution. You know look at the way that you’re implemented some changes to build back the confidence in your data so that you don’t have underlying data problems because that in turn will lead to presentation issues as well. But look look at that first if it’s quality you need to start auditing your data.

[00:39:36] If you have a presentation problem if that’s your burning burning issue you’re burning problem then you need to educate you need to train your business users what the data means how to use the data what are the guardrails in which they can use information the data that’s being collected. And really I think that’s the path forward is to you know which one is it which is your biggest problem and then the solution is there in front of you what to do about it.

[00:39:59] I think whenever we get into an organization that needs to start going down the path to even some basic governance we do one of three things. First the first one I mentioned earlier is to literally get out a spreadsheet and create a common naming convention set for all marketing campaigns whether it’s adobe or Google or core metrics or what have you. All the agencies all the marketing users always have to call the same things the same ways. And it’s really easy. I mean it’s a lot of phone calls and dirty work. But in a lot of cases it helps create alignment for the first time on anything. And it could be a quick and dirty when the second one when you guys talked earlier about tech management systems. I actually don’t think that they are as valuable from a technology perspective as they are from a workflow perspective we’re getting organizations into governance because that first time you go to a business user and do a requirement solicitation and you properly translated into a tea and then you manage that workflow in a lot of digital marketing organizations. That’s the first time anybody’s ever done that. And it’s again a very nice way to start getting people down the path to thinking about proper structure proper governance. Third one that I would mention is again quick and dirty but do some data normalization between the primary kind of goal completion metrics in the digital analytics tool and whatever the actual business tool of record is because it’s never that analytics tool.

[00:41:21] So if you’re e-commerce what does the CFO say revenue is and transactions are by day from digital or are they close. And it’s a very again a good way to get people talking about why these things are important. They’re kind of quick and dirty.

[00:41:32] So you know these are great wrap ups and a great commentary on the topic at large. You know I find it fascinating and I guess I shouldn’t at this point given that we always seem to have leftovers at the end of these discussions. But we didn’t even touch on the concept of data collection and the kinds of data collected in terms of privacy and things like that. So now we’re going to say we can’t close without mentioning privacy a lot. It’s another aspect of governance that is probably a part and parcel of this whole discussion. We just you know we we just didn’t have the time. I loved the conversation and you know I think I’m not actually going to throw anything else on top of that because I think some of the takeaways and first steps were ones that I would hardly agree with from all parties. That being said I will say Jim Kane that one aspect of tag management that you get from a technology perspective is data efficiency or quickness to data which from a governance perspective can help you to put new analysis or measurement capability in place.

[00:42:32] You’re totally right. It’s just as you violently agreed with people for people Trump technology programs like this and I think the points he made were dead on Michael.

[00:42:40] I mean if you can imagine a case if you’re not careful you have it. Analysts

[00:42:44] say enterprising consultant analyst who says sure a contract that button for you and they can have right there time management to an appointment click click enable and commit and publish and then get the call from the actual guy supposedly working a management saying you know I had six other things committed and when you get published you just posted a little prematurely. I’m scrambling to fix those now and likely personally.

[00:43:10] Maybe if you’re allowed selective publishing you wouldn’t run it. Okay maybe maybe if maybe the analyst actually you know your perspective this loops right back to the beginning of the conversation where John was talking about hey you’re an organization with a lighter need that analyst basically isn’t the governance right their ability to maintain the analytics that that’s the governance quote unquote for that organization whereas in a more refined or structured environment or bigger environment multiple teams are working on this. We need a better structure not just one guy sitting there and sort of with the keys to the whole thing. Purcell’s anyway great conversation. There’s so much more to add and that’s where you all come in. We’d love to hear your comments and questions either on Facebook or on Twitter on the measure slack. We love hearing from you. Once again a huge thank you to John Lovett for being our guest on this show. It’s a rare opportunity to get your insight and wisdom on this topic John. So thank you. Thanks Campbell. Obviously for Tim Wilson and Jim Kane I am Michael Holland and thanks for listening.

[00:44:21] See you next time and thanks for not bringing up that thing I said to John at the bar a couple of years ago. Listening

[00:44:32] from time to get to join the conversation on Facebook Twitter. We welcome your comments and questions Facebook dot com slash and on Facebook now or on Twitter.

[00:44:45] Smart guys as they made up a term call analytic analytics don’t work.


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  1. […] The Data Governance Episode of the Digital Analytics Power Hour (Episode #012) […]

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