Now in its 15th year, the ASUG Experience for Enterprise Information Management (EIM) brought in more than 200 attendees to Minneapolis. Data governance and change management were the hot topics on most people’s minds, and they came to learn from colleagues and industry experts alike the best ways to approach and implement both.

In his welcome keynote, ASUG's CEO Geoff Scott noted, “Connecting with others allows you to hear first-hand how they are putting all this important technology to use.”

Scott kicked things off by talking about big challenges everyone in the room was likely facing. “I went through the customer survey work we did for this event and picked out two main topics,” he said. “First, most organizations are trying to figure out who is responsible for enterprise data governance. Second, our research found that connectivity—related to both technology and people—is the greatest barrier to EIM processes.”

He invited Johnsonville’s CIO and ASUG Board Member Ron Gilson to the stage, and the two discussed challenges and strategies to address these and move toward a more intelligent data organization.

Data: Who Owns It?

According to the ASUG research of the EIM industry, 62% of respondents believe that data governance is owned by IT, 30% say it’s owned by the C-level, and 3% believe it’s owned by the line of business department.

One of the more popular roundtable discussions during the conference was focused on data governance organization. More than 70 attendees crammed into a room to discuss the many moving parts, challenges, and successes their teams have had with master data governance, data stewardship, and data quality. There was a big focus on “process versus technology” and having to adjust technologies implemented before processes were put in place. “We’re trying not to lean on the technology,” one attendee stressed, “but instead have that technology assist us in the business processes.”

Another topic covered was the need to implement and monitor policies, as well as have the appropriate people take ownership for the appropriate data. Attendees stressed the requirement for clean data, but they also made clear that they didn’t want to take ownership of more data than makes sense for their role.

“I was actually surprised by the results of the ASUG survey,” Gilson said. “I think those numbers—62% IT versus 3% line of business departments—are upside down. In my opinion, data governance, and the systems in general, need to be owned by the lines of business and by the business users.”

Managing the Change from Data to People

Although there is a clear need within most organizations for accurate, safe, and useful data, the gap remains in terms of who should own the data. There is also a gap in terms how to effectively source and use that data. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” one attendee remarked.

In almost all the sessions, the subject of change management came up. Most were frustrated that data governance, although one of the most important decisions an organization can make, is often the last to be considered. Getting buy-in to dedicate time, resources, and funds seems like an impossible task.

“It’s about educating and knowledge sharing,” Gilson said. “One thing that I struggle with as a CIO is the perception that master data governance adds time or labor and is a barrier to getting things done. I think we need to turn that story around. We need to educate the teams on how, by putting in some governance, IT can be an enabler to getting things done. We can help the business be more agile and successful.”

Taming the Data Monsters

During his keynote, Scott polled the room and asked how many attendees saw their role within their organization as one that must play catch-up versus one that stays out front of what the business needs? Most of the room raised their hands for the former.

“Data is knowledge at rest,” said Louis Richardson, chief storyteller at Syniti. “I believe that knowledge happens at the intersection of people and data moving about, and you need to capture it when and where it’s happening.”

Richardson talked about the fear organizations have when it comes to data, specifically when it involves preparing data for an SAP S/4HANA implementation. He advised the room to take steps to create systems to facilitate knowledge events, capture knowledge when and where it happens, and to retain and reuse this knowledge as broadly as possible. “If you think of data as a monster, you’ll be scared,” he said. “But even monsters can be tamed.”

Scott challenged attendees earlier to change their perspective of their role. “Start thinking about where you think your organization is going to be in the next six months, or even in the next year,” he said. “Whether it’s going mobile or adopting intelligent technologies or moving to SAP S/4HANA. Think about what would your data governance need to look like in those time periods? If you spend some time thinking a little further out, you may find that playing catch-up becomes a little less of a problem because you’re already thinking about where the business needs to be.”

The Superpowers of Data

Overall, attendees had the opportunity to network throughout the conference. New this year, everyone was invited to discover which ASUG Superhero best represented their working style by taking a quick onsite quiz. They could look for others sporting the same pin—Mystico, the ones with the super work ethic and power to conquer deadlines; Dynamo, the problem-solvers; Mastermind, the always-prepared and ready to learn; and Voyager, the hands-on and ready to make moves—or talk to someone with a completely different superpower.

“I appreciated knowing that others have the same issues and were willing to share all the things that went, or are going wrong at their companies,” said Iris Galarza-Vega, business solutions manager at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and ASUG Florida chapter volunteer. “The future of EIM is not just enterprise information,” she added. “It’s more about collecting and using intelligent information. I plan to take back everything I learned about this and share it with my director and team.”

Data, now more than ever, is key to drive a successful business. And the EIM professionals in any organization are truly the superheroes who need to tame the data monsters, manage both information and people in those processes, and ultimately delegate responsibility to make sure it remains accurate, relevant, and beneficial. Until next year’s ASUG Experience for EIM, may the data force be with you!

Register for the ASUG on-demand webcast, “EIM: The New Rules to Ensure Data Quality for Everyone” to learn more about enterprise information management and making data-quality capabilities available to all knowledge workers.