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AI Unleashed:

Implications for Data Governance

With data complexity and volume growing at an annual rate of 60-70%, organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of establishing efficient and effective data governance frameworks [1 2]. This recognition coincides with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its transformative force on various sectors.

What exactly does data governance entail?

 

The Data Governance Institute defines data governance as a system that outlines who has the right to perform what actions with certain information, when, under which circumstances, and using what methods [3]. In simpler terms, data governance is a rulebook that sets out who can do what with certain information, when they can do it, and how they should go about it. Data governance frameworks encompass various aspects such as compliance with regulations, data quality, data security, data ethics, among others.

The philosophy guiding the creation of a data governance framework is typically dictated by an organization’s specific needs [4-6]. Traditional, hierarchical organizations tend to adopt a top-down approach. This approach applies well-established methodologies and best practices to data management, with a primary focus on quality control. However, this philosophy may present challenges when applied to organizations dealing with large volumes of data (i.e., big data). On the other hand, there also exists a bottom-up approach that places its primary focus on raw data, which in turn governs the development of respective data governance structures and processes. This approach provides the advantage of scalability, which is a crucial factor for organizations dealing with big data. However, it presents a challenge in maintaining quality control across large volumes of data.

With the emergence and broadening applications of technologies such as AI [7], novel ways of enhancing data governance frameworks (and thereby addressing issues with the approaches outlined above) are coming to the forefront. Particularly, AI provides an opportunity for data governance frameworks to follow a “shift-left” approach, enhance data security practices, align decision-making with organizational needs, and streamline the process of policy writing.

Let’s discuss each of these areas in more detail.

1. AI Shifting Data Governance Left

 

AI can shift data governance closer (or shift left) to the data asset creation. In software development, the “shift-left” approach means that testing begins as early as possible in the software development cycle to catch and fix potential design issues [8]. In the case of data governance, it means that data governance becomes a vital part of data practitioners’ daily workflows. AI can be instrumental in shifting data governance to the “left” by automating and monitoring tasks, fixing inaccuracies, and simplifying documentation of data assets. For instance, AI models can be trained to automatically process data, identify incomplete or inaccurate data assets (e.g., those lacking ownership details or classification tags), and suggest fixes [8 9]. This immediate identification and remediation of issues can ensure quality control right from the early stages of the data asset creation.

2. Introducing AI-Enabled Data Security Practices

 

Establishing robust data security practices is a crucial facet of any data governance framework [10]. As part of robust data security practices, AI mechanisms can be integrated into the data governance framework to enhance security measures through proactive monitoring of potential threats. Particularly, AI models can be trained to recognize patterns indicating possible cyberattacks. For instance, cross convolutional neural networks can be used to detect abnormal network traffic activities [11]. Similarly, in the case of a data breach, these AI tools can swiftly alert security teams by enabling prompt action before any significant data compromise occurs [12]. Such continual vigilance offered by AI can surpass human capacity and provide around-the-clock data protection.

3. Leveraging AI to Align Data Governance with Organizational Needs

 

AI models can inform data governors about ways to align their data governance strategies with organizational needs by leveraging data-driven insights [13]. Machine learning (ML) algorithms, for instance, can process and analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns and trends, and generate predictive insights. Using ML-generated insights, data governors can make informed decisions that align with the organizational goals and industry regulations [14]. Furthermore, AI can continuously learn and adapt, enabling the system to evolve in response to changing data environments and requirements, ensuring that decision-making remains accurate and relevant.

4. AI Writing Data Governance Policies

 

The development of data governance policies is a complex task that requires data governors to fully comprehend and balance organizational needs against changing laws and regulations [15]. While search engines can help data governors locate relevant information to inform their policy writing, the tasks of interpreting, summarizing, and integrating that information into data governance policies remain laborious. AI can perform these activities (specifically, finding, reading, interpreting, summarizing, and writing [16]) far more efficiently than humans, thereby saving hundreds of hours for data governors in organizations. For instance, ChatGPT, an AI-enabled natural language processing tool, has the potential to generate policy documents tailored to the needs of specific groups of users or an entire organization [17 18].

AI is Unleashing a Future of Opportunities

 

Overall, the integration of AI into data governance opens a plethora of opportunities for organizations. It not only automates processes and boosts data security but also enhances decision-making and simplifies the task of writing data governance policies. Although, like many integrations, leveraging AI is not without its hurdles. AI systems require technical expertise, costs associated with implementation and maintenance can be considerable, and the opacity of AI’s decision-making process can challenge transparency and trust (i.e., the “black box” problem). However, by implementing AI to manage data governance while considering the potential issues listed above, organizations can enhance their data governance frameworks. Such enhancement can lead to more efficient, responsible, and effective data governance processes.

As we move forward, it is imperative that strategies are devised to address these challenges while leveraging the power of AI to enhance data governance. Given the swift pace of technological advancement, we anticipate that future research and development will pave the way for more transparent AI models. Additionally, we expect the discovery of more economical methods for the deployment and upkeep of AI systems in data governance. In today’s data-driven world, the importance of data governance cannot be overstated, emphasizing the need to responsibly embrace AI as a powerful ally in data governance initiatives.

With data complexity and volume growing at an annual rate of 60-70%, organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of establishing efficient and effective data governance frameworks [1 2]. This recognition coincides with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its transformative force on various sectors.

What exactly does data governance entail?

 

The Data Governance Institute defines data governance as a system that outlines who has the right to perform what actions with certain information, when, under which circumstances, and using what methods [3]. In simpler terms, data governance is a rulebook that sets out who can do what with certain information, when they can do it, and how they should go about it. Data governance frameworks encompass various aspects such as compliance with regulations, data quality, data security, data ethics, among others.

The philosophy guiding the creation of a data governance framework is typically dictated by an organization’s specific needs [4-6]. Traditional, hierarchical organizations tend to adopt a top-down approach. This approach applies well-established methodologies and best practices to data management, with a primary focus on quality control. However, this philosophy may present challenges when applied to organizations dealing with large volumes of data (i.e., big data). On the other hand, there also exists a bottom-up approach that places its primary focus on raw data, which in turn governs the development of respective data governance structures and processes. This approach provides the advantage of scalability, which is a crucial factor for organizations dealing with big data. However, it presents a challenge in maintaining quality control across large volumes of data.

With the emergence and broadening applications of technologies such as AI [7], novel ways of enhancing data governance frameworks (and thereby addressing issues with the approaches outlined above) are coming to the forefront. Particularly, AI provides an opportunity for data governance frameworks to follow a “shift-left” approach, enhance data security practices, align decision-making with organizational needs, and streamline the process of policy writing.

Let’s discuss each of these areas in more detail.

1. AI Shifting Data Governance Left

 

AI can shift data governance closer (or shift left) to the data asset creation. In software development, the “shift-left” approach means that testing begins as early as possible in the software development cycle to catch and fix potential design issues [8]. In the case of data governance, it means that data governance becomes a vital part of data practitioners’ daily workflows. AI can be instrumental in shifting data governance to the “left” by automating and monitoring tasks, fixing inaccuracies, and simplifying documentation of data assets. For instance, AI models can be trained to automatically process data, identify incomplete or inaccurate data assets (e.g., those lacking ownership details or classification tags), and suggest fixes [8 9]. This immediate identification and remediation of issues can ensure quality control right from the early stages of the data asset creation.

2. Introducing AI-Enabled Data Security Practices

 

Establishing robust data security practices is a crucial facet of any data governance framework [10]. As part of robust data security practices, AI mechanisms can be integrated into the data governance framework to enhance security measures through proactive monitoring of potential threats. Particularly, AI models can be trained to recognize patterns indicating possible cyberattacks. For instance, cross convolutional neural networks can be used to detect abnormal network traffic activities [11]. Similarly, in the case of a data breach, these AI tools can swiftly alert security teams by enabling prompt action before any significant data compromise occurs [12]. Such continual vigilance offered by AI can surpass human capacity and provide around-the-clock data protection.

3. Leveraging AI to Align Data Governance with Organizational Needs

 

AI models can inform data governors about ways to align their data governance strategies with organizational needs by leveraging data-driven insights [13]. Machine learning (ML) algorithms, for instance, can process and analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns and trends, and generate predictive insights. Using ML-generated insights, data governors can make informed decisions that align with the organizational goals and industry regulations [14]. Furthermore, AI can continuously learn and adapt, enabling the system to evolve in response to changing data environments and requirements, ensuring that decision-making remains accurate and relevant.

4. AI Writing Data Governance Policies

 

The development of data governance policies is a complex task that requires data governors to fully comprehend and balance organizational needs against changing laws and regulations [15]. While search engines can help data governors locate relevant information to inform their policy writing, the tasks of interpreting, summarizing, and integrating that information into data governance policies remain laborious. AI can perform these activities (specifically, finding, reading, interpreting, summarizing, and writing [16]) far more efficiently than humans, thereby saving hundreds of hours for data governors in organizations. For instance, ChatGPT, an AI-enabled natural language processing tool, has the potential to generate policy documents tailored to the needs of specific groups of users or an entire organization [17 18].

AI is Unleashing a Future of Opportunities

 

Overall, the integration of AI into data governance opens a plethora of opportunities for organizations. It not only automates processes and boosts data security but also enhances decision-making and simplifies the task of writing data governance policies. Although, like many integrations, leveraging AI is not without its hurdles. AI systems require technical expertise, costs associated with implementation and maintenance can be considerable, and the opacity of AI’s decision-making process can challenge transparency and trust (i.e., the “black box” problem). However, by implementing AI to manage data governance while considering the potential issues listed above, organizations can enhance their data governance frameworks. Such enhancement can lead to more efficient, responsible, and effective data governance processes.

As we move forward, it is imperative that strategies are devised to address these challenges while leveraging the power of AI to enhance data governance. Given the swift pace of technological advancement, we anticipate that future research and development will pave the way for more transparent AI models. Additionally, we expect the discovery of more economical methods for the deployment and upkeep of AI systems in data governance. In today’s data-driven world, the importance of data governance cannot be overstated, emphasizing the need to responsibly embrace AI as a powerful ally in data governance initiatives.

Written by Polina Durneva, Contributions by Abbey Pint

Published Jul 13, 2023

Polina Durneva

Polina is an Assistant Professor in Information Systems with research interests in consumer health informatics, healthcare IT management, artificial Intelligence, human-computer interaction, and design science research.

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Abbey Pint

Chief Marketing Officer

Abbey has a demonstrated history working in emerging technology, research, content development, creative strategy, and marketing at large. Abbey also holds a passion for community development, with a longstanding background working in Rwanda.

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References

1. Hecht J. How Technology Is Driving Change In Almost Every Major Industry. Secondary How Technology Is Driving Change In Almost Every Major Industry 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaredhecht/2018/11/30/how-technology-is-driving-change-in-almost-every-major-industry/.

2. Phiri M. Exponential Growth of Data. Secondary Exponential Growth of Data 2023-03-09 2022. https://medium.com/@mwaliph/exponential-growth-of-data-2f53df89124.

3. Defining Data Governance. Secondary Defining Data Governance 2020-08-05 2020. https://datagovernance.com/defining-data-governance/.

4. Al-Badi A, Tarhini A, Khan A. Exploring Big Data Governance Frameworks. Procedia Computer Science 2018.

5. Janssen M, Brous P, Estevez E, Barbosa L, Janowski T. Data governance: Organizing data for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. Government Information Quarterly 2020.

6. Kim S. How To Do Data Governance Better. Secondary How To Do Data Governance Better 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/08/01/how-to-do-data-governance-better/.

7. What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Secondary What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? 2023. https://www.ibm.com/topics/artificial-intelligence.

8. AI Data Governance: Why Is It A Compelling Possibility? Secondary AI Data Governance: Why Is It A Compelling Possibility? 2023. https://atlan.com/ai-data-governance/.

9. Dalimunthe R. Revolutionizing Data Management: How AI is Transforming the Way We Manage and Maintain Data. Secondary Revolutionizing Data Management: How AI is Transforming the Way We Manage and Maintain Data 2022-12-05 2022. https://towardsdatascience.com/revolutionizing-data-management-how-ai-is-transforming-the-way-we-manage-and-maintain-data-deaa05cf1789.

10. Vaughan S. How AI Strengthens Data Governance and Increases Your Data’s Value. Secondary How AI Strengthens Data Governance and Increases Your Data’s Value 2023-03-14 2023. https://accelerationeconomy.com/cxo/how-ai-improves-data-governance-and-increases-your-datas-value/.

11. Zhang Z, Ning H, Shi F, et al. Artificial intelligence in cyber security: research advances, challenges, and opportunities. Artificial Intelligence Review 2021;55(2):1029-53 doi: doi:10.1007/s10462-021-09976-0.

12. Morovat K, Panda B. A Survey of Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity. IEEE 2020.

13. Dordevic M. Council Post: How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Organizational Decision Making. Secondary Council Post: How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Organizational Decision Making 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/08/23/how-artificial-intelligence-can-improve-organizational-decision-making/.

14. Smith D. AI in Data Governance. Secondary AI in Data Governance 2019. https://sfmagazine.com/Articles/2019/September/AI-in-Data-Governance?psso=true.

15. VanWieren S. 3 Ways AI Can Impact Data Governance. Secondary 3 Ways AI Can Impact Data Governance 2023-05-12 2023. https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/3-ways-ai-can-impact-data-governance#.

16. Jin Z, Mihalcea R. Natural Language Processing for Policymaking. Handbook of Computational Social Science for Policy 2022 doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-16624-2_7.

17. Frąckiewicz M. ChatGPT Prompts for Improving Writing for Public Policy and Government Communication. 2023.

18. Fletcher G. We asked ChatGPT to write a company HR policy – and the results were promising. 2023.

References
  1. Hecht J. How Technology Is Driving Change In Almost Every Major Industry. Secondary How Technology Is Driving Change In Almost Every Major Industry 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaredhecht/2018/11/30/how-technology-is-driving-change-in-almost-every-major-industry/.
  2. Phiri M. Exponential Growth of Data. Secondary Exponential Growth of Data 2023-03-09 2022. https://medium.com/@mwaliph/exponential-growth-of-data-2f53df89124.
  3. Defining Data Governance. Secondary Defining Data Governance 2020-08-05 2020. https://datagovernance.com/defining-data-governance/.
  4. Al-Badi A, Tarhini A, Khan A. Exploring Big Data Governance Frameworks. Procedia Computer Science 2018.
  5. Janssen M, Brous P, Estevez E, Barbosa L, Janowski T. Data governance: Organizing data for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. Government Information Quarterly 2020.
  6. Kim S. How To Do Data Governance Better. Secondary How To Do Data Governance Better 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/08/01/how-to-do-data-governance-better/.
  7. What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Secondary What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? 2023. https://www.ibm.com/topics/artificial-intelligence.
  8. AI Data Governance: Why Is It A Compelling Possibility? Secondary AI Data Governance: Why Is It A Compelling Possibility? 2023. https://atlan.com/ai-data-governance/.
  9. Dalimunthe R. Revolutionizing Data Management: How AI is Transforming the Way We Manage and Maintain Data. Secondary Revolutionizing Data Management: How AI is Transforming the Way We Manage and Maintain Data 2022-12-05 2022. https://towardsdatascience.com/revolutionizing-data-management-how-ai-is-transforming-the-way-we-manage-and-maintain-data-deaa05cf1789.
  10. Vaughan S. How AI Strengthens Data Governance and Increases Your Data’s Value. Secondary How AI Strengthens Data Governance and Increases Your Data’s Value 2023-03-14 2023. https://accelerationeconomy.com/cxo/how-ai-improves-data-governance-and-increases-your-datas-value/.
  11. Zhang Z, Ning H, Shi F, et al. Artificial intelligence in cyber security: research advances, challenges, and opportunities. Artificial Intelligence Review 2021;55(2):1029-53 doi: doi:10.1007/s10462-021-09976-0.
  12. Morovat K, Panda B. A Survey of Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity. IEEE 2020.
  13. Dordevic M. Council Post: How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Organizational Decision Making. Secondary Council Post: How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Organizational Decision Making 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/08/23/how-artificial-intelligence-can-improve-organizational-decision-making/.
  14. Smith D. AI in Data Governance. Secondary AI in Data Governance 2019. https://sfmagazine.com/Articles/2019/September/AI-in-Data-Governance?psso=true.
  15. VanWieren S. 3 Ways AI Can Impact Data Governance. Secondary 3 Ways AI Can Impact Data Governance 2023-05-12 2023. https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/3-ways-ai-can-impact-data-governance#.
  16. Jin Z, Mihalcea R. Natural Language Processing for Policymaking. Handbook of Computational Social Science for Policy 2022 doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-16624-2_7.
  17. Frąckiewicz M. ChatGPT Prompts for Improving Writing for Public Policy and Government Communication. 2023.
  18. Fletcher G. We asked ChatGPT to write a company HR policy – and the results were promising. 2023.