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Selling Information Governance to the Business

In 2007, I hosted an IBM Data Governance Council Meeting at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor’s Gulch in Vale Colorado. It was September, and we were 40 people 9000 feet up in the mountains, meeting to review our recently created Data Governance Maturity Model.  We had foxes meeting us at the fire pit every night, and I invited a bunch of analysts to participate and offer us their worldly verdicts on the Maturity Model – to both bless our work and offer suggestions on how to use it. It was the first time we had shared the model with “outsiders” and it was also the first time any of us reported on its usage to others. So it was a kind of debut.

Unfortunately, none of the invited analysts followed the script I gave them. Instead of presenting their analysis of the model, they each just talked about how great their analyst firms were and what services they could provide to the customers in the room. This was, in fact, the exact thing I didn’t want them to do but you know its just human nature that people often show up unprepared and give you whatever they are good at giving regardless of what you really need.

I held back on my displeasure during the first two analyst presentations, hoping against hope that the last one would deliver what I asked and salvage the day. But he didn’t, and by then most of my Council members were staring at their blackberries, walking out to talk on the phone, or staring out the window at the valley below. I was pacing around the room in my mind trying to figure out how to get these guys back on track to deliver the content we all wanted to hear.

So, I just interrupted him and said, “that’s really nice about your company but we invited you here to tell us about the Maturity Model. What do you think about it?”

Analyst: puzzled look and silence.

Audience: Now awake, smiling, some giggling in the back of the room. The tension is thick.

Steve: “Did you read it?”

Analsyt #3: “No”

Analyst #2: “No”

Analyst #1: “Yes, I read it and its a hard read (grumble, grumble – how dare you interrupt my gratuitous sales pitch). Its way ahead of its time. 95% of my customers aren’t ready for this. They are under-appreciated and stuck on the basics.  They need help with metrics.  They don’t know how to sell Data Governance to the Business and they need the most help just getting the justification to start a program. This Maturity Model is for companies who are already running towards Data Governance. My customers are sill learning to crawl.”

You don’t get much truth in this world if you don’t poke people. I poked this guy and he gave us the truth we didn’t want to hear then and four years later most companies still don’t know how to sell Data Governance to “The Business.”

They lack the facts, the patterns of problems, metrics and impacts that together make a business case for change. Change isn’t easy. Most people reject change when they see it for the first time. You need clear and consistent language to convince people to change, and consistency is just one of the hardest things to accomplish.

Well, here’s a super new book, written by my friend Sunil Soares, that can help every organisation develop those clear and consistent business cases which are the essential ingredient for Data Governance Success. Its called “Selling Information Governance to the Business” and its not just another theoretical methodology for college professors or sales reps. This book is a meticulously researched and well documented exploration of the metrics, indicators, and elements of Data Governance business cases by industry. It contains all the raw materials and roadmaps you need to build successful Data Governance business cases and consistently sell your policy ideas to “The Business.”

I don’t want to write a fake review with all the superlatives you read in the phoney movie reviews these days. I’m telling you honestly – this is a great book. Its an important contribution to our industry. It will help you succeed.  Its detailed and I think everyone will benefit from reading it.  I recommend this book and if I end up teaching another class on Data Governance I will use it as primary source material for my students.  Its that good folks.

I really believe fundamentally that this industry won’t succeed without more companies starting programs that will succeed.  And you can’t succeed without a consistent method to building business cases for change based on real evidence.  This book can help you get the evidence and build the business case.  You’ll still need to translate this into things that will work in your organisation, finding the data patterns and problems that require policies and compliance.  And you will need technology to help orchestrate all of that.

But this book is the best example I’ve seen on how to get started and how to succeed.  I recommend it highly.

You can buy it here online or you can pick up a signed copy from the Author when he presents it at The Information Governance Community Meeting on October 23rd @ IOD

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