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Data Governance in Australia 2023 Report highlights urgent need for action

More than half of those surveyed rate their organisation’s data management as ‘average,’ with almost 5% calling it ‘poor.’

Despite high-profile data breaches and ongoing concerns about cybersecurity, a staggering two-thirds of organisations believe their boards lack sufficient understanding of data governance challenges.

Governance Institute’s Data Governance in Australia 2023 report was released last month, the result of a collaborative partnership between the Governance Institute and Macquarie University’s DataX Research Centre. The report serves as a wake-up call, revealing a concerning lack of board understanding and substantial gaps in data governance frameworks across various sectors.

The findings, drawn from across all sectors, underscores a significant gap in knowledge at the highest levels of decision-making, posing a serious risk to organisations in an era where data is a paramount asset.

More than half of the organisations confessed to not having a data governance framework in place, citing capacity and resource constraints as the primary obstacles. This lack of a structured approach to data governance leaves organisations vulnerable to potential threats, including cyber-attacks, which emerged as the standout risk according to the report, followed closely by concerns about emergent technologies and artificial intelligence.

Key issues identified included siloed data holdings, underestimation of the value of data, and the absence of proper data governance frameworks. Alarmingly, a third of organisations do not have data governance included in their risk registers, indicating a systemic underestimation of the importance of data governance in overall risk management.

Another crucial finding is that just under a third of organisations regularly purge data, mostly on an annual basis, suggesting a potential risk of accumulating unnecessary and potentially sensitive information over time.

Governance Institute Chair, Pauline Vamos, emphasised the urgency for organisations to prioritise data governance. She highlighted data as an increasingly valuable asset and stressed the need for boards and senior managers across all sectors to design and implement effective data governance frameworks.

“It is critical that organisations maximise customer service and the commercial value of data while minimising risk, particularly reputational risk,” Ms Vamos said.

The report also pointed out significant variations in reporting data governance to boards. Less than half of organisations report data governance to the board, and among those that do, the frequency of reporting varies significantly. This variability in reporting practices suggests a need for standardisation and consistency in conveying crucial information about data governance to board members.

The Data Governance in Australia 2023 report not only presents data but offers actionable insights for organisations navigating the intricate landscape of data governance. As technological advances continue to reshape the business landscape, the report serves as a valuable resource for organisations seeking to fortify their data governance strategies and ensure the secure and responsible management of one of their most valuable assets.

You can download the Data Governance in Australia 2023 report from our website.

Q&A with Governance Institute

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