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Treat your data governance program like the superpower it is

Making the case for data governance for TMT companies

As technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) companies manage massive amounts of data, concerns about privacy and data breaches have generated governmental intervention, regulatory measures, and privacy protections. While data governance has always been important, the changing risk and regulatory landscape is accelerating the need for strategic refresh of data governance programs. Ready to treat your data like the superpower it is?

Why data governance is still in vogue

The term governance can be cringeworthy for TMT leaders, even those that run the information and digital strategy. Successful TMT brands have thrived on agility, creativity, and accelerated speed to market—without significant regulatory hurdles. Digital transformation is driven through data, and data has evolved into a significant asset in highly competitive TMT markets with low barriers to entry.

Some TMT companies have invested heavily in data infrastructure to host data assets, but with the speed of transformation, the systems may not have been implemented in an orderly fashion. Data lakes store and categorize the information, but organizations failed to apply controls to circumvent lakes from devolving into swamps. Simply put, data privacy is a driver behind much larger shifts that TMT leaders need to get ahead of—and no organization can afford to wait. The stakes are particularly high in TMT given the vastness of data among multiple disconnected systems for collection, storage, and use.

While data governance is crucial to manage such an important asset, it hasn’t always been a priority for TMT companies that grow at a breakneck pace. Increased regulatory pressure is changing that, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) creating a new-found sense of urgency. Many leaders across organizations are motivated to take a fresh look at modern data governance programs and make the case for strategic investment.

Data integrity means better business decisions

Governance can be beneficial from both a business and operations standpoint. Identifying personal data and validating that data across ecosystems can help with compliance, and it can also solve for other challenges such as data quality issues and unstructured data stores. Whether a TMT company survives or thrives has often been dictated by its ability to scale data-based business models; use the data to make business decisions; and underpin innovation in its products, services, and customer experiences.

The best defense is a good offense

With regulations and reputational concerns pushing compliance to the top levels of management, TMT companies should begin by taking stock of where they are and where they need to go, keeping the current landscape and regulations at the forefront of data strategy.

Data governance is not only about maximizing the value of data for operational effectiveness, decision making, and regulatory requirements, but also about minimizing the risks associated with poor data management. Data privacy considerations should be embedded in every step and include stakeholders across functions, from IT and operations to marketing and sales. Good data governance involves various steps and a well-defined framework.

So, how can TMT companies get there?

Gain acceptance across the organization of shared ownership. Data is not owned by just one function; it’s the responsibility of the entire organization. While data governance requires buy-in from the top down, it’s critical that everyone who handles or uses data is involved in the process. This way, the governance structure reflects the way the organization operates—and where it’s going.

  • Who will represent each function across the organization?
  • What roles and responsibilities should be clarified?
  • Where are the points of accountability?

Take stock of the current position. Before blazing ahead, organizations should assess where they are from policy, governance, resources, risk, and operational standpoints as well as consider the guiding principles they will use to support a privacy-related strategy. If customer data is the most valuable asset for the organization, that should be the North Star. Once an organization has identified these areas, it can assess what measures are already in place, what needs to be updated, and where to start fresh.

  • Where is data the most vulnerable?
  • What data governance approaches exist and what tools are organizations using?
  • How do the guiding principles need to be modernized going forward?

Decide where the organization is going. Organizations should think beyond the current regulatory requirements of GDPR and CCPA. We suggest taking a comprehensive view of regulatory requirements. In other words, consider compliance an ongoing journey. A TMT company should think about long-term business strategy as well. Doing so helps readdress or reprioritize where to focus attention, such as identifying certain systems or data fields that need attention.

  • What is the long-term goal for data strategy and governance beyond compliance?
  • What is the brand’s current global footprint? Where might operations expand in the future?
  • How much governance is needed along each milestone of the data life cycle?

Conduct benchmarking and market analyses. These activities can help TMT companies understand the risk landscape as well as how prepared they are as an organization. TMT companies may find that benchmarking against competitors is only one piece of the puzzle and looking at other industries can provide a clearer picture of the markets in which they operate. For example, online retail organizations may benchmark among select brick-and-mortar retailers.

  • What capabilities are organizations building for data governance?
  • What customer experience benchmarks do we need to think about?
  • How is this market intelligence going to inform our data governance strategy?

Light on earth from space

Moving forward

TMT companies will continue to see the data privacy and the regulatory environment expand in the coming years. To keep pace with the demands of the marketplace and customers, TMT companies need to reframe their approach to data governance and identify the value it will deliver to the organization. Burgeoning compliance obligations and heightened expectations around transparency have increased operational challenges while stricter regulatory enforcement efforts and relentless public scrutiny have magnified potential business impact. These same trends have amplified the challenges and have also made compliance a board-level concern.

By organizing and operationalizing the treatment and management of data, TMT companies are positioning themselves to manage current compliance requirements and effectively respond to new ones.

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Get in touch

Jana Arbanas
US Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment lead
Principal | Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory

Christina DeJong
Partner | Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory

Glenn Aga
US Cyber Risk Services
Managing director | Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory

Daniel (Dan) Sutter
US Cyber Risk Services
Senior manager | Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory

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