Slideshow 5 Roles of the Data Steward

  • April 08 2013, 11:53am EDT
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One of the biggest barriers to embracing data is understanding what it is, what it means to your company and how to harness it. Here are the five, must-do jobs of today’s data stewards, according to the report “Building Data Stewardship is a New Customer Intelligence Imperative” by Forrester Research Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo.

1. Lead Governance Practices

Although obvious, it’s worth re-stating the central role of data stewards in driving practical guidelines on governance across business. Khatibloo says this is an “increasingly important challenge for organizations that manage customer data – and how the function and processes are organized can really be the difference in both the likelihood of a data breach, and the success in managing communications around what seems, increasingly, an inevitable breach.”

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2. Map Business Data Needs

Of course, it’s not about data alone. Data stewards must work with business to map collection needs and, where possible, find better or more efficient sources, Forrester states. Then, the steward can craft appropriate use policies to limit the collection of unnecessary data and, later on, audit data practices to ensure business compliance.

3. Define Data Vendor Requirements

According to Forrester: “A data steward should drive the implementation and enforcement of requirements for services including, but not limited to, data management, data brokering, customer data integration and data appends. To further drive organizational consistency, the data steward should participate in the vendor evaluation process as necessary to ensure compliance.”

4. Keep on Top of Legislation

Data collection, governance and privacy aren’t getting easier. For example, Forrester notes that there were more than 150 pieces of privacy legislation pending in the U.S. Congress – not to mention President Obama’s executive order on data security – with more than 90 other policies waiting in the wings from international governing bodies. A data steward needs to keep on the lookout for changes to data-related legislation for external business implications as well as internal communications and compliance.

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5. Become an Advocate for Future Data Initiatives

Along with daily roles, the data steward should be a point person on the organization’s data evolution in areas like personal identity management (PIDM). And sometimes that stewardship and governance approach is best served by a “task force” rather than from one team member. “Where [task forces] exist, there's significantly greater buy-in across role groups, because everyone's needs and challenges are represented,” Khatibloo says.