Europe leads on personal data handling and data governance policies

Information Difference benchmark survey on data governance reveals practice to be behind the hype. A little over half the organisations surveyed have a clear strategy.

European corporations have better personal data handling practices and formal data governance policies than their North American counterparts, according to a recent report.

Analyst firm Information Difference surveyed 134 organisations worldwide with active data governance initiatives in September 2010 to benchmark their data governance programmes. The results are now being made public beyond the participating organisations, starting with a speech on 9th March by the firm’s CEO and co-founder Andy Hayler at the Stibo Systems user conference in Reading.

Sixty six per cent of respondents were from North America, 27% were from Europe, and the remaining 7% from elsewhere. All have revenues in excess of US $1bn.

Of the European respondents, 78% claimed to have successful data governance programmes in place, compared with 59% overall. According to the report, when it comes to the handling of personal data, 21% of respondents said they had no controls in place, while 33% had a clear policy. European firms are better placed to handle personal data, with 37% citing policy controls and only 25% of North American companies citing these controls.

Additionally, EU organisations are dedicating more staff to data governance. The European average is 6.5 staff members dedicated to data governance full time with a median of 3.5. The North American average was 3.4, with a median of 2. The part-time staff picture is similar: an EU average of 12, median 4.5; a North American average of 9, median 3. However, as the survey explains, the greater numbers of staff in Europe could be due to their being spread over national and geographic boundaries. And there was ‘no real discernible differences between Europe and the rest on access to business data’, the survey authors said.

Andy Hayler, describes the overall picture the survey discloses as one of data governance being “immature but of intensifying interest. Moreover, we found what works and what does not work”.

Only 55% of the organisations who took part in the survey had a written mission statement for data governance and only 20% are confident about who can update their critical business data. Fifty seven per cent of those with programmes had had them for less than a year. The banking sector is the most mature – 58% have had programmes active for over two years.

Together with The Data Governance Institute, the firm has developed a framework for data governance that has been reviewed by a panel of multi-national companies.

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