In the business environment, ownership of a "business area" or a management group connotes both possession as well as responsibility. Therefore, what do we mean when we talk about the importance of data ownership? The answer revolves around three intertwined notions: value, responsibility and psychology.

Information has value, even though the "business mechanics" of information valuation are a bit fuzzy. (I've never seen a company's data systems show up on a list of assets.) Clearly, however, the concept of ownership is somehow related to the value one derives from that data. In environments where there is shared data ownership, how does the degree of ownership relate to the value derived, as well as the responsibility for managing that same information? Presumably, the degree of ownership may be related to more mundane aspects of the system, such as who initially created the database or what silo currently manages the system; but at the core, the degree of ownership (and by corollary, the degree of responsibility) is driven by the value that each interested party derives from the use of that information.

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