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Following up from the first session of the Operationalising Data Governance webinar series, the second one was on a topic that’s crucial in the field of data governance – Data discovery and classification. 

As I resumed my role as the host and facilitator of the webinar, I was joined by panellists Garry Manser, Head of Data Governance at Vanquis Bank, and Rob Boden, Senior Solutions Engineer at BigID. In this session, we had an extensive discussion about data classification, its value, challenges, and its fundamental role in enhancing efficiency and decision-making. Here’s a detailed recap of our engaging conversation. 

The critical role of data classification in a robust data governance strategy 

Our insightful discussion commenced with an emphasis on data classification and its instrumental role in shaping a robust data governance strategy. I underscored the point that without proper data classification, other facets of data governance might flounder. We all agreed that data classification is essential for implementing policies, assuring data quality, and deciding upon data retention strategies. 

Garry Manser shared his experiences at Vanquis Bank, highlighting how a lack of understanding about what data they possessed and its location posed significant challenges. He stressed that proper data classification was a game-changer in this regard, helping them streamline their governance processes. Rob Boden echoed these sentiments, adding that understanding and structuring data correctly helps businesses generate meaningful insights, thereby addressing data management challenges more effectively. 

Overcoming challenges in data classification and discovery 

Our conversation naturally flowed towards the challenges encountered during data classification and discovery across different systems. Garry painted a vivid picture of the complexities involved in migrating to new data platforms, especially when dealing with unknown data sets. He underlined the importance of executive support in such transitions and the need for using automation in data governance to overcome these challenges. 

Garry shared insights on how they’re approaching the migration of their data from existing data stores into a new platform at Vanquis Bank and underscored the importance of correlation and data governance tools in understanding data and ensuring its proper placement. We then explored how organisations could leverage the transition period to a new platform as an opportunity to clean, fix, and reclassify their data. Garry reiterated that it’s crucial to understand what you’re trying to achieve with your data to reduce potential risks and also pointed out that using regulatory standards can aid in building a business case for data governance. 

Rob suggested that a phased approach towards data management and classification is recommended, as it allows organisations to tackle potential issues one step at a time. He highlighted the significance of having common terms and a glossary to achieve a single view of the customer across different business units. He also emphasised the need for accurate and consistent classification and discovery techniques, including machine learning and AI, to ensure data governance’s effectiveness. 

The balance between automation and manual intervention 

The session concluded with a discussion on the balance between automation and manual intervention in data governance. Rob stated that scanning unknown data sources and running a discovery exercise is necessary to discover ‘unknown unknown’ data. Both panellists agreed that while automation can decrease the need for manual intervention, it is still necessary for validation, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the classification process. 

The webinar served as an in-depth exploration of the multi-faceted realm of data classification within the broader scope of data governance. It emphasised the importance of data classification, overcoming challenges and striking a balance between automation and manual intervention. I hope this detailed recap of the second session of our webinar series provides valuable insights as you go through your own data classification journey. 


Keen to delve deeper into this subject?

You can watch the webinar here.


Looking for assistance with data discovery and classification? Discover how our team of experts can help you:

Lee Biggenden

Lee, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Nephos, brings a wealth of experience and a pioneering spirit to the forefront of data system integration. Lee's thought leadership content offers invaluable insights into transforming data storage, processing, governance, and protection. Through his writings, Lee shares the latest trends, challenges and advancements in the data technology landscape - helping organisations to not only adapt but thrive in the digital era.

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