Struggles of Setting up a Data Governance Program w/ Rupal Sumaria
Speaker 1: This is Catalog& Cocktails.
Speaker 2: Presented by data. world.
Tim Gasper: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Catalog& Cocktails, presented by data. world, the data catalog for leveraging agile data governance to give power to people and the data. We're coming to you live from Austin, Texas, as an honest, no bs, non- salesy conversation about enterprise data. I'm Tim Gasper, longtime data nerd and product guy at data. world, joined by Juan.
Juan Sequeda: Hey, everybody. I'm Juan Sequeda, principal scientist at data. world. And, as always, it's a pleasure. It's Wednesday, middle the week, towards the end of the day. It is really at the end of the day where our guest is, and we are here, ready to go talk about data as we always do. And, I'm super excited because today, we are going to meet with somebody who we met. I finally met her last week in person after so many years being in touch and everything. Our guest today is Rupal Sumaria, who's the head of data governance at Penguin Random House UK. Rupal, how are you doing?
Tim Gasper: Welcome.
Rupal Sumaria: Hi, nice to see you both.
Juan Sequeda: Yes, finally.
Rupal Sumaria: Finally anyway.
Juan Sequeda: We finally got to hang out a little bit. Not enough time last week, but super excited to spend some quality time here talking about our data and governance because it's one of the things that people like to go talk about.
Tim Gasper: Yeah, and the struggles with governance, which I think is a great topic.
Juan Sequeda: All right. Well, let's kick it off. So, what are we drinking? What are we toasting for today?
Tim Gasper: Yeah. You want to start off, Rupal?
Rupal Sumaria: So, I've just been out, so it is the end of the night for me here in London. I've just been out to Nigerian restaurant, and we were drinking Chapman's with dark rum, so I'm continuing with dark rum in my globe. I don't know what this is. I'll tell you now because we're honest no bs. I stole this a few years ago from a bar. Me and my boss walked out with these, don't ask why.
Tim Gasper: You're like,"This is too cool, we need it."
Juan Sequeda: So for those who are not seeing this right now, she's holding one of these disco balls that it's-
Tim Gasper: It's like shiny and pink and green. Yeah.
Juan Sequeda: I'm just imagining you walking out the bar with that and it's like obviously, you have a shiny thing in your hand but you don't care.
Rupal Sumaria: I think it was a marketing thing for them. Maybe they just allow people to walk out because the people are like," Where are they going? Where are they coming from? I want to go there."
Juan Sequeda: That's good marketing right there. I love that.
Tim Gasper: That's a good idea. Yeah.
Juan Sequeda: Tim, how about you?
Tim Gasper: I am drinking right now some voodoo ranger juicy hazy IPA. A pretty solid hazy IPA I would say.
Juan Sequeda: Yeah. And I am drinking, just made us up today in is Tequila. But actually I started with some agave, added some orange bitters to that, put some ice and then topped it off with a little bit of just lime spark and water. It's actually pretty tasty, nice. So cheers to...
Tim Gasper: Cheers.
Juan Sequeda: What are we going to toast for? Rupal, what are you toasting here today for? For what are we toasting?
Rupal Sumaria: Really random non governance thing. I'm toasting my friend getting his phone back after losing it this morning and then finding it this evening in London, which is an achievement.
Juan Sequeda: Oh well cheers to that.
Tim Gasper: Finding the needle in the haystack.
Juan Sequeda: There we go. Cheers. Cheers. To our warm up question, which is actually relevant to what you just said. All right. If you had to delete all but three apps from your smartphone, so I guess you're governing your smartphone here, which are those three apps that you would keep?
Rupal Sumaria: After approaching my friend today, I think I would keep my camera, my messaging app and maps because it turns out that's all you really need.
Juan Sequeda: Yeah, no phone. It's funny. It's your smartphone, you don't need the calling app that-
Rupal Sumaria: No, I don't need that. Sorry, we don't call people, who's calling me I'm not answering that.
Juan Sequeda: Oh man. I was going to say something with music but then you said the map is also essential and then you need to communicate and I use my phone for my camera. Ugh. I don't know. I don't know. I'm on four. What are you?
Tim Gasper: So I thought about this question when I first saw it five minutes ago and I was immediately thinking like," Oh email on Slack and then I was like-
Juan Sequeda: Screw email.
Tim Gasper: And then I was like,"Wait a second, I should not choose those, let those be laptop fodder. So I was thinking actually, I run so run- keeper, also I feel like I would need my messaging app. So we would keep some of those essentials.
Juan Sequeda: I like how you were thinking already about healthy things. I was like more," I need the map to go find the bar or whatever."
Tim Gasper: Wasn't the first thing , after a couple of iterations.
Rupal Sumaria: I think the worst thing was, he was thinking of slacking like emails. I'm like," If you lose your phone, you don't need to be thinking about work."
Speaker X: No, no.
Rupal Sumaria: You've only about three apps. That's not the one.
Juan Sequeda: All right, let's kick this off. Rupal, what are the honest no bs struggles you go through to just set up a successful data governance program?
Rupal Sumaria: To be honest, I guess, as you know, I was at your summit and thank you for having me there. I think I'll just reiterate the fact that you need to understand what you're trying to sell to your business. To do that you need to understand your business. So what do they care about when it covers to data? What's important to them? And what are the anecdotes that resonate with them? I think that is one of the most important things because you will constantly be talking to people, building up relationships and everybody has a different view on what data means to them and what's important to their part of the business. But overall, you need to know what you're trying to achieve as an organization and what that person really cares about. So for me that is the biggest thing.
Juan Sequeda: So this is tying so much of the stuff that we're bringing up about business literacy-
Speaker X: What we're saying?
Juan Sequeda: And I think this is something that I think traditionally, we see governance, and I'm very eager to get your point of view here, but we see governance as this protective thing. Let's make sure that nobody's doing harm with their data, which of course we need to go do. But that's an isolated IT technical point of view. But once you want to go do more, I mean, you really need to make sure that you understand how you're providing value to the business and that means that you need to understand how the business works. So it's actually so annoying and I'm so freaking just... When people go off and start talking about the tech stuff and they'll have no freaking idea how the business works. You need to stop, go learn the business, go talk to people, build those relationships. You're saying?
Tim Gasper: It can be easy when talking about things like governance or quality or even cataloging and things like that, to think of it really tech- centric and also to think really in a vacuum like," Oh well there's the six pillars of data quality that you have to do and..." stuff like that. But in and of that self that may not resonate, it's all about can you speak to your business and you understand your business.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah. I think you actually one as you say. We talk so much about data literacy but very little about business literacy. So if we're asking our business to become more data literate, they should be asking of tech and data to be more business literate so actually you can meet in the middle. Because if you're not going to meet in the middle and always just going to play off of each other, then actually what are you trying to achieve with bringing in governance, bringing in a catalog? Because it's not going to work because you think you are hitting all of the factors that you've read about or hear about, but if your business doesn't feel it then it's not going to land anywhere and they're just going to get fed up of you really quickly.
Juan Sequeda: So I was watching your talk, which by the way I mean, non salesy here. I mean, Rupal, mentioned she gave her talk at our data world summit and it was the number one rated to talk I can tell you. So I highly recommend you to take a look at this talk. And one of the things I really liked is you were going through this example of how you are actually understanding the business and in your case, you sell books. I mean, can you go give us an example of what your business do? And how you're aligning governance. So give an example of truly connecting to the business.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah, I think it changes. I think that's the thing. Your business changes, your business goals change and you need to keep on top of what it is that they're interested. Someone said to me today actually," Oh it's data governance by self." they don't feel that it's heavily policed or heavily governed because actually, you are spending time to understand what it is that they need, what it is that you need and then help them meet you in the middle. And so for us, one of the things and one of the areas that we started with was our sales department, which is they needed data so badly and they had such a poor experience before with data issues and data quality and it just became really understanding what they were interested in, how important it was for them and how much they were driving our business, to then actually be able to surface that data, but have the question and honest especially first off, what is the most important data that you care about? And what does it actually mean? Because if we have to build all of these data models and data visualizations, we need to be able to nail it and get it right so that you don't have just basically the same thing that you had before, just in a fancy shiny new platform. And so really spending that time getting to know them. I think we did that, 2020. End of 2020, we had rounds of conversations," Well what's your top piece case? Why this over that? What does this mean?" And really just getting in there with them and having those conversations. We've done that with several other departments since then and we continue to do that. So we have these point in time where we do, we say, you know what? We need to bring them back to the table and find out what it is that they're interested and just keep that connection going.
Juan Sequeda: All right, this is awesome. I love it. Let's dive deeper. You said 2020, so that's like two years ago. So give us a little bit of history. When you started out, what was the scenario? How did success look like? Or how would you find out success? How many people were on your team? And you're talking to whom? And how did you reach out to them? Did they say no and then you pushed? I mean, what does this look like? Because I don't think it was like you picked up the phone and everything started working. I mean, there was a lot of struggles here, right?
Rupal Sumaria: Well, I think it's not just here it's credit to the entire team in the data team in Penguin Random House UK. I mean, my boss, Pete Williams who you've known, he came in and he was hearing my complaints because I'd been there a little bit longer talking about," This isn't working, the business don't trust us, don't have confidence in our data and it's impacting in a way impacting morale as well." so it's like," How do we change that?" And the thing that we all recognize is we lack the data strategy. So we spent time talking to the business, bringing in a data strategy for us all to actually buy into. And we spent a long time talking about it and governance was just a key pillar. And we had a really great champion at the time in our group director to say," We've tried governance before and it's not worth." And you think about did they really try governance or were they trying something else and falling in governance. This comes back to my first line, I don't know how many decks I created and I had a quick look today and it was scrolling off the screen, how many variations of the depth that I created? And I was very lucky because I started out with the help of the data governance coach, who really just helped me understand what's the key point and messages I get across. But even looking back some of the things that we were pitching, and this goes back to maybe slide, I think process about the meetings. I was trying to pitch all of these different groups and meetings that we needed and it was just like they don't really fit into our business, they're not ready for it. So actually the number of decks I've created and refining of the message and what really nailed it was we found the data quality issues that were really impacting the business and we were like," This has happened because people don't understand what they're meant to do with this data." And we went around to everybody selling that and that really did help to change the conversation. But I'd say even prior to 2020, at the end of 2020, I mean, we're talking in March just before the pandemic, we trialed a version of data governance before. So this isn't actually our first attempt. We had an attempt just before the pandemic and then the pandemic just put a stop to all, where we had workshops with our businesses, different areas of the business just to even get a sense of what other issues. And actually it was really powerful because it was just they'd dumping all of their issues out to us. And from there we also got a picture of what was important to certain areas and what were the common themes and that was a really helpful exercise that we were able to bring forward. But, pandemic did stop our progress at that point and we were able to pick up and at that point we had data strategy, we had a vision for our tech stack and it was just like," If we're going to do this, governance is going in at the beginning."
Tim Gasper: I love that. It is cool to hear the journey that you went through as you did this. One area that I want to dig into a little bit more is just some of the people side. Who were the people that you were collaborating the most with from a role standpoint to really help you craft this message? And did you have to have a group in the organization whether it was a certain department to be what Juan mentions often, as like," Who are your astronauts that are going to go with you to the moon." thing. And then also who became your sponsors? Was it like your VP of analytics? Was it somebody on the C- suite? Curious about the people landscape.
Rupal Sumaria: It's a hard one to terms. So really I think we definitely had sponsorship from our group director. I mean, she was a great backer at the very beginning of that," We need to do this." and then just gave us the mandate to go do what you need to, create what you need to. But in a way, actually, it was a little bit hands off and I think, because she's such a busy woman and we were doing incredible integration at the time. But the fact that she did trust us with it was really great. But we did go background and actually we hit all of the senior data owners in our business and we're talking to the heads of finance and listening to their issues, even heads of directors of sales and directors of finance and directors of marketing. So our audience and marketing team, just talking to them and just trying... Talking to them about what governance is and how does it help them and then trying to get their buy- in from that. And those conversations tailored in an individualized really help cement the knowledge. And we ask them for their opinions and their anecdotes. And their anecdotes, once we had one from one, we were able to share it with another department and they were like," Yeah," we've got some of those. And build the deck that way and really form that network of people that really could start to see the potential with data.
Juan Sequeda: So this is a question I want everybody who's listening to ask themselves, all right. If you're working in a data governance, you're on a data governance team, when was the last time you spoke to the head of sales, head of marketing? I'm actually genuinely interested. If people are out there listening or anybody who's live right now, I'd appreciate if you can comment. But this is something want to go, when was the last time you worked in governance? You spoke to the head of sales, head of go marketing or the head of customer whatever? Are you talking to them or not?
Rupal Sumaria: Yes. So I spoke to one of the directors in finance yesterday actually. I went around to her desk because she was in data. world approving a bunch of things in there that her stewards were doing, which I thought was fantastic because in the big shout up to her, she's been a real credit to changing governance's culture in her area. So she was available and I think I spoke to one of the directors of sales on Monday and it's not just we have these lengthy conversations, it can be really short and sweet or we have 10 minutes on a call that was scheduled to be half an hour. But we've done the thing we need to do. So we don't need to necessarily talk all the time to know that we're in contact. But we are in contact and that is important because you need their checkpoint and you need their buy-in because they push their teams.
Tim Gasper: This is a really cool perspective on how... What I wrote in my notes here is like," Get out of the building, get out and talk to people." because it's helping you build your case and also you're building these relationships because now, later, you're going to be asking some of these people to sponsor in certain data sources or certain use cases or evangelize it to their teams or volunteer somebody to be a domain steward or something like that. And so those relationships are key.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, me and my team, were talking today around if we are running different data steward networks and we don't necessarily run them all together with everybody because like I said before, all the different domains they necessarily care about what the other domains are doing. They do at certain points where they intersect. But sometimes production just... production is huge. And we were talking about actually having data owners at the very beginning when we start those networks is really important than having them come back in for checkpoint. But in between if the data stewards are empowered enough, then we're happy, which they run it themselves but making sure that we agreed that actually want to do more.
Juan Sequeda: And one of the things that we had discussed before, was your tailored approach on how to go work with different domains departments. Some need to have more handholding when it comes to governance. Other ones get it, they're more hands on themselves because there is no really silver bullet like," Here's the governance program, go run everybody." share us a little bit more of your perspective of your insights about how to go have a data governance program, how does that look and when it's executed applied across the organizations.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah. And again, we started with these workshops where we brought everybody in and as great as they were, we learn a huge amount, they were also incredibly hard to run because you are looking around the room and some people are engaged and some people are not. And actually sometimes the people are not engaged to people they need to spend more time with, and it's because they've got busy day jobs and they can't necessarily see and unfortunately data stewards, they wear multiple hats. They are these key individuals that are SMEs. So I found that if we bought everybody together, I think they get bored very quickly and they do trail off. And if certain people do drop out, as long as I've got the core of what I need, I don't necessarily go chase them down because it's their own responsibility. At some point they are going to have to connect back into the process. But I find talking to them, building up relationships and giving them a little bit of leeway, helps. And I find with some areas they just get it and actually it's helping them do the thing that they need to do anyway. So they don't necessarily need my involvement as much. I think I agree with you, there's no silver bullet, it's try and try and fail and try again and keep trying again and eventually they'll get it and you'll be more confident about doing it as well.
Tim Gasper: How do you deal with, when there are some folks you really need to be engaged and you're struggling with some of the engagement, are there some strategies that you've found to be effective for dealing with those kinds of people situations?
Rupal Sumaria: I think it also comes down to your personality a little bit. I guess if you're going to run scared, then that's not going to help. If you're going to always escalate, that's not going to help. So try find coffee, try work around them. But persistence, honestly, I don't think there's a way around that. There's no easy way. You've just got to be a persistent person. And if you've been given a mandate and if you've been given this remit and you've got to make data work and you understand the value of why it's so important, then I think you will be one of those people. You will be persistent and you can't shy away from, I guess, different challenging stakeholders and not even challenging, sometimes it's intimidating. You're at a junior level, some of these people are really seniors, they've been here a while, I think you just have to keep pushing yourself, get over there and also recognize that they care about the business too, otherwise they wouldn't be here as long as they did.
Tim Gasper: Find a common ground around what's important to them and important to the business.
Juan Sequeda: Now, that's actually good. This gets into the honest no bs, which is like," Okay, we need to do this governance." you're on this governance team, you're trying to explain things, but then you're saying like,"Oh, I'm junior, I'm younger than everybody else in the room is so senior." That can be intimidating. I mean, from the junior person, the governance team trying to explain this and then the senior person is like," Well, I don't have time for this stuff." so I think this goes into one, we've talked before, we need more empathy on this. But I think second, for those junior folks who are growing like this is their opportunity to go ask those questions and go learn more about the business. So I feel that it's an opportunity right now and I think... As you mentioned, all these different departments, you get the opportunity to see how things are going and you get to connect the dots because folks are in their own department, their own silo and they're experts on desk, but you can zoom in a little bit to see, understand the details as much as they are needed. Then you get to zoom out and get to connect these dots and stuff. So I think personally that's why I really enjoy working with data because you get to figure out," Hey, this over there, I heard that over there." and those folks aren't talking and I figure that out and then," Hey, you guys should be in the same room."
Rupal Sumaria: That happens hundreds and hundreds of times actually, that you get that you hear something, you're like," I'm pretty sure I heard somebody over there talking about the exact same thing." and more often than not. They don't necessarily know how to meet or they don't have them in their network. And I came from a support background, so I was dealing with all the data issues from everybody. So from just dealing with all of them and meeting with them and hearing their issues, I started to understand who everybody was. And if you do come from an operational data support background, then actually you've already got quite a wide net of people in which you can tap into. So even if you don't necessarily know somebody, you can find out a little bit more about them by talking to somebody you do know, say," Hey, just give me the low down, what's going to resonate with that person? What do they care about?" And people are always willing to help with that.
Tim Gasper: Yeah, I think this is a cool conversation because... Just to zoom out a little bit. I think that people who are less involved in governance or this whole activity around managing the data management function, they assume that governance is more of a policing function or more of a rules function that like," Well, we define the policy and then people got to obey the policy." thing. But in reality, the most successful governance programs are ones that are really building relationships, building momentum, building enthusiasm, creating partnerships internally and so on and so forth. It's much more fluid, much more dynamic and probably much more empowering than people realize versus something that's much more just like," Hey, we got to make standards, we got to make rules, et cetera."
Juan Sequeda: Because back to the company said before is," Why do you have breaks in the car?" And I ask this, when talking to, I've been going to conferences and we have a booth, I go talk to people and talk about governance. I ask them always," So why do you have breaks in the car? Because credit where credit is due, this is Mark Kitson one of our listeners." and they're like," Oh what is the answer?" And then there's like," To slow you down." it's like," Yeah. Yeah, to slow you..." or is it to help you drive safely? And then a lot of people, it's actually surprising that they've never thought about it that way. I'm like," Yeah, this is an enabling thing." and goes back... Another discussion I really love, when we get to the advice and stuff talking about books, a book I really love is one from Laura Madsen on disrupting Data Governance. And I love how she says that you need to be ambassador of data, and data governance is about making sure that data is being used. So I think that's the big shift right now.
Rupal Sumaria: Just there. I say I agree, I think governance gets a bad rap. I blame banking, I don't really care because they're not on the call, I blame them. I blame banking and finance and I blame GDPR and they've made it so boring. They've made it really, really boring and it's not their fault they had to, they had all of these requirements that they had to meet. But if you are not in those sectors and even if you are and you've seen what's happened, change it, change the game, you don't need to operate that way anymore. And I think one of the things, because you still need to knock out and keep off track of your security and your data protection. You have other departments there that will do that with you. Not for you, with you. So we work incredibly closely with our information security department and they are great advocates for us and we are great advocates for them. We help each other in our processes. In fact, we nail it down because since we've come in we've been able to nail down things a lot tighter between us. We've helped them with their process, they've helped us with our policy. So that collaboration is still there, but the business is getting a different conversation around data. I think everybody understands, they need to protect data. But they're now also looking at," Okay, but how can I use it? And what do I just need to do so that I can get added?" so I think there's a different approach that you can take. And if you are in a different company than banking or insurance or finance, take a different approach. Don't go at it so heavy handed and trying to be police and trying to be I guess the big boss there, you want to be actually stealthy, you want to be like," How can I help you? How can I do governance." but actually not make it, ... so heavy. And I think that goes back to minimal data governance or agile data governance. Do the things that absolutely need to be done the rest will come as your culture builds.
Tim Gasper: Yeah, I think that agile approach is key. And I think just to tie it back, when you first were talking earlier in the show today, you were talking a little bit about building that ROI story and building your anecdotes and things like that. More of a policing or defensive approach to governance I think has certain ROI and calculations that are much more around," Hey we're trying to prevent fines, we're trying to prevent bad actors or..." things like that,"... bad goodwill, et cetera." but how are you thinking about a broader story around the ROI of governance? What are some of the things that you're focused on that have worked at PRH or are things that you think work generally to provide a bigger picture around the ROI and the value of governance?
Rupal Sumaria: I always love this, ROI to data people. And honestly most data people don't understand how to quantify ROI or what ROI is. And truthfully, it's really difficult, it's really difficult to measure ROI because sometimes it feels a bit fuzzy. We get use cases around we want to use this new data set and we want to bring in this data. All right, so we ask you what's the business value? Give us the pitch. I think you guys call it shark tank, we call it dragons done over here. We want the business to give us... Not just for data governance, but actually their data products themselves. Because we wrap our data governance into data products so it's all together. What's your business value for doing this? And sometimes it's a really nominal amount and sometimes you're like," Really? Are you going to save me millions and millions and millions of pounds?" For what you are actually doing and what they are doing is just shifting the culture to become more data literate and you are becoming more business literate because you understand what's important to them. So I think some companies have to measure ROI. If you've had a big issue, you've had... Uber's recent issue that they have, you may need to do that and focus on that side. If you're not coming from that position, focus on the business value for data products, but be willing to accept that some of the numbers might be a little bit flaky, but it's your starting for you as they get better and as you get better at measuring it. But one of the things that we want to do now with data, world is to start pulling out some of the metrics about user adoption. So are people coming in and actually checking what this actually means and they're then going to use it in their reporting, so actually does it make us more productive? Because I think productivity is actually where the value is. Not saying you can't monetize your data, you absolutely can, but most companies aren't there yet. So it's productivity what you got to measure.
Juan Sequeda: Yeah, productivity is the easy answer.
Rupal Sumaria: It is.
Juan Sequeda: And then you're like," Well, we saved so much time and you look how much this person costs so much and blah." yeah, okay, that's the easy answer. But it's so subjective. I think what we should be striving here is to really tie the data to how we made money or save money. And I think this is an easy answer and I'm curious what you say. Let's say you go through all this work or you govern the data and everything, question is how important is this data? Will you go to that business stakeholder and say," I'm going to pull the plug on this data."? What are they going to say? Are they going to say," Yeah, it's okay." they say," Yeah, it's okay." then you're probably not bringing that much value. But if they say," Hell no, I need this stuff." this is like," Oh okay, so tell me more about that." because I think at some point as the data teams, people who are responsible taking that ownership about their data products and doing data governance, that answer of," Oh, we're very productive." that is going to leave us always in that second tier. And I think we need to have this change otherwise, I don't know. I don't want to be part of the second tier of the business.
Tim Gasper: It is more of an operational metric.
Rupal Sumaria: But the challenge is that the data management side, data catalog, data product, data engineering, a lot of them sit under cost centers. They can never necessarily realize the profit centers because your structure of your business doesn't necessarily reflect that the value that you make in this campaign or this advertising bonanza that you're doing over here, it just doesn't necessarily reflect on your cost center. And so it's so hard to then take what they're doing because it's all together, it's all wrapped. And I think that's where the challenge becomes. And it's a challenge for, I think so many data functions, particularly, data governance functions. I can't say I got the answer on that one in our seat. So I'd like to get to where you are on, I think I'm realistic.
Juan Sequeda: Hold on, is this a crazy idea or not? I mean-
Rupal Sumaria: It's not crazy, but I don't think that the drive is there to spend effort-
Tim Gasper: The incentive structure....
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah, I don't think it's there yet.
Juan Sequeda: Literally, why not go off to a team and say," I'm going to pull the plug on this data, we're not going to maintain it, we're going to turn it off for whatever." just even as if it were, I don't know, as a joke or whatever-
Tim Gasper: Hypothetical.
Juan Sequeda: ...hypothetical, ask them and see what they would react. I would be very curious about that because if you get positive reactions, a sense of like," No, hell no." Then go off to, you're like," Hey, we're not actually a cost center. I mean they actually depend on us to go make money. We're helping to go make money. I think, and I agree that the problem is that they're under a cost center, but we need to go shift and change this."
Tim Gasper: This reminds me of Doug Laney, he talks about a new way of doing accounting around your data and this impact accounting and things like that. But it's tough. The traceability of it is tough. And there isn't an accountant that sits around thinking about," Oh, how this impact happens." but maybe there should be.
Juan Sequeda: Well. I listened to a podcast, this is a shout out for Miko Yuke. She has a podcast on analytics on fire, which I'm hoping I want to get her on her show. I forget the podcast and who the guest was, but it was literally about this of how to turn your data analytics into a profit center. And one of the ways is that they literally had an accountant on the team. The moment you bring an account on the team, they're thinking about," Wait, what's the money?" figuring out how to put this on books and stuff. That's a drastic change.
Tim Gasper: Well that's pretty radical.
Juan Sequeda: Very radical.
Tim Gasper: It's a very different way of thinking.
Juan Sequeda: I like that. We need something different.
Tim Gasper: Like this dashboard, What is the ROI of this dashboard? I'm thinking-
Juan Sequeda: Oh, here's another thing, so Rupal say they're asking you-
Rupal Sumaria: ....
Juan Sequeda: Go ahead, go ahead.
Rupal Sumaria: I had to say actually we did try this. Shout out to the head of data engineering, one of my counterparts in the data team because when we talked about business value, we focused on obviously the use case in this case. But he did actually, I think, attempt to do some of this with the accountants. What we found was, I think, there's a maturity to your business around it and maybe we're not there yet. And I think as a data maturity, you can go really drastic and flip the switch. But I think until everybody's on the board and they're still getting value out of it, I think that's the hard message. But I think we would probably want to revisit that. So I am interested a little bit more, so I might have to go find that podcast.
Tim Gasper: Maybe there's an opportunity for us all to learn a little bit more about this. So I want to quickly say that this episode is brought to you by data. world, the data catalog for data Mesh, a whole new paradigm for data empowerment to learn more go to data. world and Rupal, one topic that I thought would be good for us to bring up as well on here is, so in your talk at the summit, you talked about a four step process. And we talked a lot already about people and how people drives into this, so that was your step one. But then you also talked about policy, process, technologies through the next three steps. Can you talk a little bit about your framework about how you think about that? And maybe this is a good teaser for folks to go check out your talk as well.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah, definitely. Go check it out. Policy, I don't know, everything becomes a lot more official when you have a policy right? You've documented and you've thought about your standards and rules, you've thought about your scope, you realize the limits of where you can and can't be at this point in time. And I think making sure you write a policy is really important and it doesn't have to be pages and pages long. Actually the shorter the better because people are more likely to read it. And even with short policies, you want to show infographics and spend some time getting people on board. But I think having it where you store all your other company policy makes it real, it makes the business realize that this is important. And it also means when you're having conversations, excuse me, and people are asking," Well, why have I got to do this?" It's just a lot easier to say," Well, it's policy now." in a way. You still have to obviously explain and like I say, tailor your approach, but it just helps you limit some of the challenges you might get so I think it's super important to have a policy and get some feedback from other people and actually iterate. We're about to release a new version soon, we're in the process of rebuilding it because we've moved on and we need to revisit it and we need to add in a whole bunch of new standards because we are a bit more mature and we can add a bit more. So yeah, that's really important and process. I did it, I tried it, I tried all the meetings at the beginning, I pitched the meetings and people just don't want more meetings. Especially when you're at the beginning and you're still trying to work out your foundations and you're trying to get your different departments on board. Don't do it, don't quote all of them out the box. That's my biggest advice, that's low. Spend a time with one area, figure out what works and then jump onto other people's meetings and how often and shout your agenda from there or get other people to help you, just don't.... Be sparing, people will respect that you're doing this, you are also protecting their time.
Juan Sequeda: How do you recommend with which department to start?
Rupal Sumaria: Who's got the biggest business value for data? Lastly, and it's not just data governance, who's got the biggest for data governance, who's got a data product that actually is really exciting is it's aligned to your strategic goals as a business and it's something that they desperately need. Start there because you're starting at the beginning of their process, you're jumping in early and that's what you need to do. As much as you can, be there at the beginning because It's a lot easier to say," No entry." without doing governance, so business value. So I guess in a way, try a little bit harder on your ROI of this new product that you want.
Juan Sequeda: Yeah. No, and I think we need to start talking to people understanding where is the business value? Maybe some people are coming to you but they're like," Yeah, but you're not showing the money." so you have to go off and talk to other people and saying," Hey, you're doing something. I can help you to go make more money out this stuff." so I think this is a super important aspect. It goes back to one of the starting points here was it's about relationship building. We need to get out of our office and go talk to people. Those are the leaders.
Rupal Sumaria: So we do have, like I say, this business value process, can't quite remember the... We call it something else that can't remember the name of it, but we do get people to submit them. We take a sales check, we write it, and then we take it to a group of data owners that... I think every six weeks to just talk about where the progress that we're making as an organization with our data strategies. And then we surface this. And it's really interesting sometimes to see the conversations across different departments about what's important because we have just a certain amount of resources in our teams, so we can't do everything, so what's the order in which we do it? And those always bring out challenges to what maybe somebody has stated. So I think, ahead of maybe being able to measure ROI sales check. Get your senior leaders to sales check what's being asked of you.
Juan Sequeda: Oh that's a good one. Have that sales check. I've spoken a lot of folks even listeners to our podcast and tell me that they're stuck in this data governance role that they're in, they don't like it. What's your suggestion to folks who are in data governance that they feel like,"Ugh, I need to get out of this." tell them, just get out of it, go somewhere else or... I mean, don't know. What's your advice here to data governance folks who feel that they are in this struggle right now and stuck.
Rupal Sumaria: If they've not found the company that they want to work for, honestly leave if you don't like I, no one's forcing you there. Go let somebody else that is passionate about it do the job. And I know that's harsh, I do understand that. And at times I get frustrated with my job. Everybody does. But do you believe in your company? Do you believe in what you do? And do you get support in your job? I'm really lucky, I have some great mentors in the place I work, so I can see that actually what I'm doing they encourage me. So if you're not getting that, then the organization is either not really meeting their data strategies or it's not effective, but you haven't got the buy-in. And if you're not happy, move on.
Juan Sequeda: Honest, no bs right there.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah.
Tim Gasper: If you're not happy, move on. Rupal, a question for you. As you've gone through this experience and you've built all this momentum and this excitement and all of this progress around governance and enablement, now you can look back at what you've done at PRH and at other places as well. And think about some of the struggles there, is there anything that now as you look into the rear view mirror, you're like," Ah, if I could have had another crack at that, I would've done something differently." Is there anything you would've changed now that you can look at that and sort, rear view mirror is 2020?
Rupal Sumaria: No, I'm not really a big believer in that because everything you've learned is what helps you moving forward. So you can, as you say, obsess about it at three in the morning and be like," Oh, why did I do that? That's embarrassing." but to be honest, you've learned from it. So why waste your time looking backwards on something you can't change, but think about what you did learn and bring that forward. Like I said, I've created several decks and I've tried to set all those meetings, that's embarrassing. But know what, I learned what not to do and what to do. So no.
Juan Sequeda: I know we're jumping talking already about advice, but that's one I really love, which it's as important to know what you want to go do, but it's also super important to know what you should not do or you don't like and stuff like that. And you get to learn that based on your experience. One thing we haven't talked about yet is technology. And honestly, I don't like to bring up technology that often because I think one of the interesting challenges in the data space is more the people of the process. But we cannot deny that there's the technology here. So just very broadly open right now, data governance and technology go, what comes to mind when I say that?
Rupal Sumaria: The data governance technology has maybe been dominated by certain big companies that are now, I guess, fast falling out of favor. And now actually, and I know you know guys are challenges in this space too, but there are a lot of companies claiming to do data catalogs. It's unnerving, I have to say, because a lot of people might now be lost in indecision. So consolidate the market people please because we can't have this many, especially when some of them are sketchy at best. Not you guys, otherwise I wouldn't be here.
Juan Sequeda: Well, this is... Again, Rupal, I love how honest no bs you are about everything. You left the bar with the fancy cup, you're telling people that data governance as a bad rep because of finance and banking and GDPR and now the market is so convoluted we needs to get straight up. Yeah, this is the annoying thing. I mean look at the... I was at Gartner, I was at the big data of London and just walking through the hallways of the expo, it's like as a vendor, I'm over extremely overwhelmed. I can't even imagine it being a buyer saying," Okay, I'm going up." I know we need tools. People processing technology tools are enabling. You walk into that room and you're like," What the heck? How do you navigate that space?" So any suggestions of, as somebody who has those experience, who've been going through this. What are the tips and tricks that you'd give somebody who's looking in and buying things? So how to navigate this space?
Rupal Sumaria: I think you have to figure out what's most important to you in the product that you want. That's essential. We definitely decided that for us, we needed a UI that was going to be really simple because we were small teams, so we couldn't invest in heavy training programs so we needed to be intuitive. So you need to know what it is you want and you also need to protect yourself to make sure that is focused on modern technology, particularly if you are bringing in modern technology. If you are bringing in likes of five trans, snowflake, et cetera. Some of these older collectors, they don't necessarily do them or they don't necessarily do them well or can respond really quickly to... You might decide tomorrow, you're going to switch on this new component. So who's going to actually be willing to work with you on that journey? And I think that's important. But honestly, I get inbox all the time from different vendors and I think for me, I think there's a value in the product that you have and I have a use case, then I will look at it. But otherwise don't get blinded by all of the shine lights that are outside.
Juan Sequeda: Yeah, too many shine lights.
Tim Gasper: Yeah.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah. I think as we saw BDL with certain vendors focusing more on the giveaways, which I spent today and I know you guys know who that is.
Juan Sequeda: All right. Wait, Rupal tell you, look, time flies. I mean already had 45 minutes at this stuff. This is awesome. And I think what I really appreciate about the conversation we're having here is that you're really grounding it to something that is... I mean it's obvious, but at the same time it's not obvious because people are doing it is, go talk to people and go figure out that business value directly. So I mean we'll talk about this in our takeaways in a second, but hey, let's move to our lightning round just presented by data. world the data catalog for successful cloud migration. And I'm going to kick it off first. So question number one-
Rupal Sumaria: I'm nervous.
Juan Sequeda: Let's see. Unstructured data, documents, wikis, broader knowledge management, do you all think of that as part of data governance as well? Or is it a little bit more on the edges of things? Or is it separate?
Rupal Sumaria: Yes, but we're not mature enough or we're not there yet.
Juan Sequeda: Okay.
Rupal Sumaria: It's a little bit down the way, but it is important to us.
Tim Gasper: All right. Question number two, should you have a data governance council?
Rupal Sumaria: Yes and no. You may need one eventually, don't start with it. I've said this before, don't, just jump into it. I think what you need more is the data strategy board. People that are guiding your data strategies. If you've got somebody on that frame most of the time that's probably in and out of your data governance process anyway, use that instead.
Tim Gasper: So a data governance council without a strategy is a dangerous thing?
Rupal Sumaria: I think so. I think data strategy is more important because that's your enabling factor.
Tim Gasper: Yeah.
Juan Sequeda: All right. Third question. Do you believe that all this trend of data products and treating data as a product, will this really be make an impact in data governance for data value in ROI? Or is this just something that's a fad that's passing by?
Rupal Sumaria: No, I don't think it's a fad. I think it is something that's here to stay. I think it's a great opportunity to use data products to leverage data governments into them and into the underlying data sources. So although your data product might only use 10% by 10% of the data that the whole data set requires, you've already started to implement some standards. So no, I think it's here to stay.
Tim Gasper: Love it. Last question, fourth question. Fast forward, five years from now, is data governance easier or did we make progress as an industry? Or did some factors internal or external, make it same or harder?
Rupal Sumaria: Oh, no. Do you want to ask the people that were in banking in 10 years ago that question?
Juan Sequeda: Ouch. You really like these banking folks?
Rupal Sumaria: No, I don't mind it. I mean, not trying to... If ever I do apply for a job, I'm just trying to be honest here. But now I think...
Tim Gasper: I kind of want to go to a conference and ask that question.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah, I think you do. will still be same problems. Honestly, I think there will still be some of the same problems because data... You've got all the tech staff in the world, but you've got to bring people on that journey and people take time. So it's like when they were talking about in, I don't know, 10 years, 20 years ago they were talking about AI is going to change the world and we're all going to be in flying cars. We're not there yet so I think people just need to be realistic.
Juan Sequeda: All right, well we're heading to-
Tim Gasper: It's a journey.
Juan Sequeda: It's a journey for sure. All right. T- T- T, Tim, take us away with your takeaways to go take us off first.
Tim Gasper: All right. Rupal, this was an amazing conversation. I think where we, especially started off here was especially around the value of data governance and the approach to both recognizing and overcoming some of the struggles around data governance. And you mentioned that you really need to understand that, you know what you're trying to sell to your business, what your business needs. You need to understand the business, understand what's important to them, and figure out the anecdotes and the stories and the data points that will resonate with them. And I feel like you emphasize a lot around building relationships. I think more than a lot of folks that aren't as familiar with of modern governance may expect how much you have to get out of the building and really talk with folks. And if we're asking our business to be more data literate, you mentioned that we should be probably asking our data people to become more business literate and it's really a two way street#. You mentioned that you need to keep on top of your business and understanding what they need and meet in the middle. And I think one of the things that you implied with some of these statements when we were talking about that in the show was that when you do these things, you partner with the business, y'all meet at the middle, governance then doesn't feel like a policing function, it feels like a partner. And I think that's important. And at PRH, you mentioned that as you were talking with various folks early in this process around building the story and the ROI around building out this program, you found things out by getting outside of the building and talking to different people. So data quality was a big issue, asking people about the problems they were experiencing, going from department to department and figuring out," Okay, there was a lack of a data strategy, need to implement that." there was an impact to morale that needed to be remediated. They tried governance before and they're like," Oh, it couldn't work because we tried it before." it's like," Well what happened? What went wrong?" really understanding why they felt like, our governance can't work. Oh, just kidding, it can work but we failed in these ways. And I thought something that was great that you mentioned was, you mentioned, you talked to some advisors and some coaches and folks that you trusted around data governance and also within the business. And I think that's important, to find the people that you can partner with to help you build your story, I think that's really critical. And then we talked a little bit more about people and how the people are a key aspect to this. And you were talking to the sales department, the marketing department, and folks first asked for their opinions and anecdotes, built those partnerships and then took what you learned and brought it to other departments and built more relationships, tested out those stories. Some of them worked and some of them you iterated and added on. And then as you built that story, you really were able to build that overall business case. And I wrote down," Get out of the governance building." which may not always mean you're literally getting out of the building, but this is a mentality here we're talking about. And then before I hand it off to Juan for his takeaways, you also mentioned about, when you do these workshops that, if you bring everyone together, they can sometimes get bored, which I think is some interesting unexpected advice that I think sometimes folks feel like," Oh, I got to hound people, they must join the meeting, we got to chase people down. They got to get a demerit when they don't do the right thing and things like that." But you mentioned that you don't need to necessarily chase people down because it's really their responsibility and the business needs to take ownership over the impact that governance and enablement around data can have and so you need to empower them, you need to create the incentives where they want to be a participant and be aware of things like pupil's, personalities and how you need to work with and tailor things to different personalities. So tons of awesome insights there. What about you Juan? What were some of your big takeaways?
Juan Sequeda: Well, I think I'm going to make a T- shirt out of this that says," Data governance has a bad rep. I blame banking finance".
Rupal Sumaria: Oh, no. You know what? I think I just want to shout out to everyone. It's nearly 11 o'clock here. I've been out and I've had a drink. So yeah, let's just take this with .... because I feel like I've really done myself out Future job.
Tim Gasper: Juan, stand down.
Juan Sequeda: No. No, totally get it. And I know we're going here a little bit ways but... The data governance comes from these areas, but BCPS 239 back the 2008 right so it is. And I think it's about changing the mentality of protecting the data to empowering the data, which is that point it's not just about protecting the data, which is.... I'm must say don't protect it, it's not just that. We need to make sure that the data needs to be used. And I think part of this mentality shift that we're doing that we talked about ROI and a lot of data people don't know how to think about or measure ROI, which is ironic because they're data people. So we need to have these short tanks of like," Okay, we're going to go do this data. So are we going to go make money with this? Or who's going to go invest in this?" So through this interaction, the data people get more business literate, business folks get to more data literate so we need to have that balance right there. One of the things, we talked about is productivity. Oh, yes, productivity is a way to be able to figure out the ROI. But I mean we were discussing, let's go figure out truly how to go tie this directly to the money, money being made, money being saved. And the challenge which you brought up, which is that the data teams a lot, they show up on underneath the cost center. I think this is the change that needs to... That is a challenge right there. We talked about policy and I saw everything becomes official when it's written down. I really like that quote because we all have these things and we need to start writing them down and then take it to the next level to mature and make computable policy and so forth. The shorter the better. And you said something that I was not expecting and I said,"Infographics." and I'm already thinking this is a fascinating idea to say we're going to go start defining our policies and let's actually go draw this up because I have a nice cartoon-
Tim Gasper: Visualize it.
Juan Sequeda: Visualize it And go explain it so everybody can understand it. And I think that's a very powerful idea right there. And once you're writing this down where you are today and what you can accomplish today and create that mapping and what needs to be done because you need to get feedback about that, you need to go iterate, you'll get new releases and guess what? The industry changes, your company grows, gets more mature, then those policies need to get updated too so a living policy eventually. Processes, people don't want more meetings. We don't have to go start with all the meetings we have to have, let's just start small around this stuff. And how to get started is, work with the department of folks who are going to get a lot of business value, a lot of money ROI there from the data and they're very aligned, their data is aligned with the business goals. That's who you should start with. Anything that you've changed in the past, I really like it. Like," No, you wouldn't change anything in the past. You're learning a lot from that." and then finally we close with technology. There was this first wave of governance tools, but many of them have fall out and right now there're just way too many catalog tools out there so we need some consolidation in the market. If you're navigating that expo floor, that vendor floor, how do you navigate that? Well make sure you have your use cases clear. You understand that we get a line of the business. But also on the future side, what do I need? Do I need a very focus more on the UI? Or do I need to make sure that they can go catalog all the different types of resources that we have? And it's not just the modern one, they got legacy and so forth. That was it. How did we do? What did we miss?
Rupal Sumaria: I don't know. I think you summarized that better. than I could have done. So thanks. I'm ...and expert.
Juan Sequeda: All right. We'll throw it back to you. Three questions.
Rupal Sumaria: Oh actually one more. Have a really good team, you need a really good team behind you, wider data team, good data governance team. So focus on your recruitment.
Juan Sequeda: That's always is-
Rupal Sumaria: That add to all of them.
Juan Sequeda: ,,,.
Tim Gasper: Adding it to the takeaways. That's perfect.
Juan Sequeda: All right. Three questions. What's your advice? Who should we invite next? And what resources do you follow?
Rupal Sumaria: What's my advice? Despite me being on here and doing few talks, I still haven't got everything nailed down. So just remember that, take everything with pinch of salt as well and understand that we are still on our journey. That's my one bigger bit of advice. Same for anybody else that you hear out there. Everybody's on a different scale, different part of their journey. So just remember that. Don't get overwhelmed.
Juan Sequeda: Love that. Two, who should we invite next?
Rupal Sumaria: I don't know. There's so many people out there that are really good, I think in the UK. And big shout out to Nicola Raskin, definitely one of the great data governance coaches here. Josh Perepin, someone that I talked to at the Guardian Sharmarni Mukharjee...she's really nice and she's really helpful and she runs a little know-how session for data governance people in London along with Nicola, so shout out to her as well.
Juan Sequeda: Okay, Nicola. Yeah, I've seen Nicola, I've been meaning to reach out to her. That's awesome. Appreciate that. Finally, what resources do you follow?
Rupal Sumaria: So all of the ones I've just said before. But actually one of the things that I like, also this is a pitch for Penguin Random House, one of the books says how to own the room. Because I think when you're talking to everybody, sometimes you do need to be able to own the room and talk to them. And just as a side, they also how to adult.
Juan Sequeda: How to adult? Oh, nice.
Rupal Sumaria: ....
Tim Gasper: These are good recommendations.
Rupal Sumaria: Yeah. But How To Own The Room, I think is a really, really great book because you don't have to read the whole thing, but focusing on little snippets I think really help because big part of it is the people aspect and you need to be able to have those different relationships. At those different levels we talk about sometimes, people feel intimidated. It's all about your confidence level and sometimes everybody needs a bit of patch.
Juan Sequeda: All right.
Tim Gasper: I love that. I haven't checked out that book yet, so I'll have to.
Juan Sequeda: All right. Well Rupal, thank you so much. This has been a phenomenal conversation and just quick shout out to next week, we have Patrick Bangert, who is the VP of AI at Samsung. So we're going to have some really good, honest no bs discussions about the state of AI.
Tim Gasper: Incredible thoughts about AI, where it's going? Where it's failed? Opportunities. So excited for that.
Juan Sequeda: Yeah. Rupal, again, thank you so much. We're so excited we had this final conversation. We met finally in person last week and looking forward to more conversation and seeing the successes that you're having. Cheers.
Rupal Sumaria: Thank you so much for having me. Cheers.
Speaker 1: This is Catalog& Cocktails. A special thanks to Data. world for supporting the show, inaudible for producing John Moans and Brian Jacob for the show music. And thank you to the entire catalog cocktails family. Don't forget to subscribe, inaudible, and review wherever you listen to your podcast.
You have been asked to start the Data Governance program in your organization. Sounds easy, right? How do you start? How do you define success? Who needs to be part of the team? Join Tim, Juan and Rupal Sumaria, Head of Governance of Penguin Random House UK to discuss the steps for a successful data governance program and what to avoid.