Data Governance and Social Networking

By Anne Smith

Most data governance initiatives start as a result of either an event (discovery of data security breaches, development of a data warehouse, reaction to a poor data quality audit, etc.) or as part of an overall Enterprise Information Management program. The approach to governance frequently involves research into the topic, investigation of online sites for information, and possibly some discussion with one or more consultants. These are all fine ways to explore the discipline, but this list ignores one very useful approach that is gaining acceptance in the information management field: social networking.

Social networking allows individuals to build communities of people who share interests and activities, and can involve online services (“LinkedIn”, chat, discussion forums, etc.) or personal contact. There are several good social networks for the Enterprise Information Management community, and so can offer opportunities for those interested in data governance to connect with like-minded people for educational and professional purposes.

One type of social networking concerns attendance at conferences and symposia that are focused on a particular area of interest (data governance, information quality, etc.). Conferences serve as a way to meet others who share your interest in the topic, who may have experiences that you can draw upon and who may be able to serve as informal resources for developing your skills in the area. A recent conference on Data Governance was held in San Francisco, CA hosted by Wilshire Conferences ( Along with spending valuable time in seminars given by many of the leading practioners in data governance, attendees were able to form connections with other attendees (from the same geographical region, from the same industry, etc.) and gain valuable insight into governance concepts and practices.

Another type of social networking involves joining and participating in a professional organization devoted to your area(s) of interest. In Enterprise Information Management, the premier professional organization is DAMA – the Data Management Association ( With over 40 chapters worldwide, and with the largest annual conference on all areas of information management, DAMA is probably the largest social network in this field. If you are reading this article and you are not a DAMA member, why not? Most chapters have Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for various EIM topics, and if your local DAMA chapter does not have a data governance SIG, perhaps it is time one was started!

Many industries have professional organizations as well, such as the insurance industry’s Insurance Data Management Association (IDMA – Joining an industry-based association can provide yet another view of topics of interest to data management professionals, and the organization’s meetings and conferences can give another opportunity to build your professional network.

Why is social networking important for a data governance professional? Data governance is a human-oriented effort, requiring stewards and others involved in governance to interact, learn from one another, develop customized approaches to governance issues and implement practices in a constructive manner. All of these activities require interpersonal skills that one can develop and refine through interacting in one or more social networks, and if a network also offers learning more about data governance, it serves a dual purpose.

Data Management professionals have labored in the shadows of organizations for many years, sometimes as part of IT, sometimes as part of the business community, with varying degrees of connection to either organization – and frequently with little knowledge of what others in the field are doing. Exploring the social networks available to information management professionals and to data governance in particular, can benefit each of us and all of us, strengthening the profession and all its practioners.

About the Author

Anne Marie Smith is a leading consultant in Information Management and is a frequent contributor to various IS publications. Anne Marie has over 20 years experience in information management for several corporate entities and has successfully led the development of data resource management departments within corporations and consulting organizations. Anne Marie is active in the local chapter of DAMA and serves on the board of directors of DAMA International, and is an advisor to the DM Forum. She has been an instructor of Management Information Systems (MIS) with Philadelphia, PA area colleges and universities. Anne Marie has taught topics such as: data stewardship and governance, data warehousing, business requirements gathering and analysis, metadata management and metadata strategy, information systems and data warehouse project management. Anne Marie’s areas of consulting expertise include metadata management including data stewardship and governance, information systems planning, systems analysis and design, project management, data warehouse systems assessment and development, information systems process improvement and information resource management/data resource management. Anne Marie holds the degrees Bachelor of Arts and a Master's of Business Administration in Management Information Systems from La Salle University; she has earned a PhD in MIS at Northcentral University. She is a certified logical data and process modeler and holds project management certification. Anne Marie can be reached at

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