MAY 28, 2014 5:00am ET

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Data Stewards versus Subject Matter Experts and Data Managers


Much discussion exists about the role of a data steward and what it entails, and in my experience it is quite unclear in many enterprises. A large part of this lack of clarity seems to arise from confusion with two other roles - subject matter experts and data managers. We need to understand how these three roles fit together. Either we should justify them as separate roles or recognize that they boil down to the same thing. The fact that many enterprises have only a fuzzy grasp of what these three roles involve is a major risk for the successful operationalization of data governance. This is because individuals will be assumed to have accountabilities that they have not been formally assigned, and which they are not equipped to carry out. To the extent that these accountabilities are assigned by a data governance program, it is data governance that will be blamed for lack of results.

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Comments (7)
Interesting perspective. I'm not sure Shannon's thought on the CIO being the arbiter for data and stewardship is likely - the CIO is almost always bothered with the technical infrastructure and doesn't have the first inkling about what data exists, why it's there or who needs to be responsible for it!

The questions of who's who vis-a-vis data is certainly now clearly identified as the area for Data Governance to be concerned (still an emerging discipline). Some further thoughts on this theme here: >

Posted by Alan D | Tuesday, June 03 2014 at 12:59AM ET
The title of CIO carries the very important element which they should be fundamentally responsible for - "Information", in all its forms, classes etc for the needs of the entire organization. If many real-world CIOs do not do justice to their titles, then we cannot reach a conclusion that the CIO role, per se, is not a good candidate for institutionalizing good Data Stewardship practices across the enterprise. After all, many organizations do also have staffed CTO positions - and the persons in these roles should be bothering about the technical infrastructure and technology implications for their organization's automation needs. In my view, the CIO role, manned by a capable & disciplined leader, can still provide much-needed data stewardship and governance structure for the organization.
Posted by Shiva Prasad K | Friday, June 06 2014 at 7:18AM ET
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