In today’s data-driven era, the benefits that data brings to marketing organizations is phenomenal. But on the flip side, data also presents a consistency, security, and usability challenge. With data expected to grow to 175 zettabytes by 2025, organizations need a robust data governance program to define how data will be aggregated, stored, managed, archived, and backed up.

Data is enabling marketing teams to unearth insights about customers, market trends, competition, and regulations. It is also helping them make evidence-based decisions, cater to the needs of customers, accelerate time-to-market, and drive competitive advantage.

That being said, here are 10 ways data governance aids marketing and digital channels:

1. Improves data management: The area most closely associated with data governance is master data management (MDM). Through MDM, data governance establishes a master reference or central data repository to ensure consistent use of data across the length and breadth of your marketing organization. So, whether you need to immediately scan through specific customer data, or want to reaffirm product information, with a data governance program in place, you can be sure to get immediate access to all the data you need – in one place.

2. Removes data silos: Many marketing organizations are unable to get the most out of their data because it resides across departments, systems, teams, and applications, and is largely inaccessible. But since data governance ensures data, from across the organization, is collected and unified, it removes the barrier of data silos, allowing you to drive better outcomes. For example, as a channel partner, if you want to quickly glance through details of the latest product update – you can do so, without being restricted by siloed systems.

3. Increases efficiency: Data governance also allows you to drive better results from your application modernization projects. For instance, if you’ve been using a legacy product information management system, and are looking to move to a modern, cloud-based platform, data governance can ensure that the data that is contained in your legacy system is accurate, and relevant before it is moved to the new platform. This ensures only relevant data is migrated, enabling you to make better marketing decisions and drive higher sales.

4. Ensures consistency: In the marketing landscape where manufacturers, distributors, and retailers all work together, “aged” data, cluttered naming conventions, and inconsistencies in product content can bring critical systems, like your e-commerce website, down. Data governance brings about the required level of consistency in data, enabling all parties involved to look at data in the same way, so cross-functional decisions are easy and quick. Consistent data can not only help you forge better relationships with your distributors or customers but it can also power you to enter new markets or build new product portfolios.

5. Presents analytics opportunities: With massive amounts of data being generated by organizations today, the right data governance practices can provide the right framework for better data exploration and discovery. They can also set the foundation for building data-usage policies and implementing controls designed to ensure that information remains accurate, consistent and accessible. Once data has been carefully modeled and mapped, it offers a better opportunity for data analysis.

6. Improves relevance: For marketers trying to make sense of the sea of data, losing sight of business priorities is an ever-present danger. However, data governance ensures only the right data is used for business decision-making. For example, the data you capture about customer behavior based on their product information searches across competition sites and social media channels is vast. But only a small portion of that may be of significant value. Data governance ensures you do not try to manage or control every data set that you capture; instead it helps you figure out if the data is worth managing, allows you to make the right judgments about the quality of incoming data while aiding you in proactive data quality checks.

7. Ensures quality: With data governance and MDM in place, distributors no longer have to want for quality content. Since data quality improvement projects are closely tied with data governance, distributors can enjoy access to accurate and consistent data at all times. For example, your MDM can serve as a central and unifying element that helps justify ongoing investments in data quality efforts. Data governance also helps pull together representatives from distributors and other business units to develop policies and procedures on the use of data – thus ensuring quality in the long run.

8. Drives compliance: With the expansion in data use-cases, and with the emergence of new technologies, there is also a steady increase in data breaches. This makes data security an integral part of data governance programs. Today, data protection, data privacy audits, and other data security measures are being included in data governance programs – not just to ensure security, but also for your organization to be compliant with strict regulations such as GDPR.

9. Encourages collaboration: Through accurate, relevant, and updated data that is always accessible to the concerned stakeholders, data governance cultivates a culture of open communication and collaboration between various lines of business. Not only does it encourage participation between distributors and manufacturers, it empowers every data user to leverage data to its greatest potential. Since stakeholders work together to refine and document data but it also builds consensus, and commonality, and eliminates confusion faced by business users while deciphering data.

10. Allows for accountability: For organizations looking to succeed in today’s data-driven era, data governance embeds accountability across the enterprise. In reference to the data, it helps outline the organizational structure, state roles, and responsibilities of those involved, and how they fit in the bigger scheme of things. For example, using metrics, you can take responsibility for the profit (or loss) from investments in marketing activities, and demonstrate the financial contributions of marketing programs to the overall financial objectives of the firm.

Is your data governance program on-point? If not, it may be time to take action today!