INBOX INSIGHTS, April 20, 2022: Data Governance, Working from Home, Marketing Myths

INBOX INSIGHTS: Data Governance, Working from Home, Marketing Myths (4/20) :: View in browser

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Setting Up Basic Data Governance

Whenever I start to say “governance” to one of my clients I can see the involuntary shudder start to happen. It’s a word that people tend to dread. It has a lot of negative connotations such as slow-moving, daunting, lots of paperwork, overhead, delays, extra work, extra cost, and endless meetings. The list of reasons not to do it goes on and on. True, data governance can mean all those things if not approached thoughtfully. Not all data governance plans are the same and there is no “one size fits all”. Every company will have different needs. Conversely, having strong data governance can speed up your processes, make you agile, and allow you to quickly answer questions. So let’s get into the good parts of data governance, shall we?

Governance, in this context, is just another way of getting organized. I love organizing. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I can find things easily, and direct others to items even if I’m not looking at them. A good example of this is folder governance. Even though we’re a small company, the folders that we have in our online system can get unwieldy, making it hard to find a contract or a deliverable. By setting up governance for which folders should exist and what materials belong in each, we have a better chance of finding what we need without too much effort.

It took me a long time to get an organized mindset, and I fail at it some days. When I was a teenager I was the walking definition of chaotic. I never knew where anything was, my homework was forever incomplete, and I was late for everything. As I got older I started to see the consequences of this and would take small steps to get more organized. Again, it wasn’t overnight, and not everything I tried worked.

When I think about all the projects I want to tackle around my house it can feel overwhelming. To feel like I’m making headway, I try to start with one project that isn’t overly time-consuming and that I know I can complete. This is how I recommend you start thinking about your data governance. Not all at once, but in manageable pieces.

When we talk about data governance we’re talking about a few basic things: What is it? Who owns it? and How is it managed? You can go much deeper with your governance but for most marketing organizations that is a good enough start.

Start with one piece, like ownership and access and document that. The questions you want to answer are:

  • Who owns the software or database that collects the data?
  • Who can access the data that is collected in the software or database?
  • What levels of access does each person have (read-only, editor, admin)?
  • Do all the people who have access have the correct level of access?
  • Are there people who should be removed from having access?
  • When was the last time passwords were changed?

Depending on the size of your organization, this could be a small or large list of people. If you work with outside agencies, the list may get even longer. However, don’t let that deter you. Most software has a user portal built in that will tell you this information. You may also need to ask around to other team members to confirm. Knowing who can access and edit your data is a good first step.

Once you know who, you need to know what. Meaning, what data is being collected. This will vary depending on the system or database you have set up. A system like Google Analytics will collect data about the actions happening on your website, whereas a CRM system will collect data about your customers themselves. If you’re using more than one system in your tech stack (and most of us are) you can start with a simple spreadsheet that lists the basic data points from each system. It might look something like this:

  • System – data collected
  • Google Analytics – website visits, pages visited, forms filled
  • Hubspot – contact name, contact email, contact company

This is oversimplified but you get the idea. The goal is to have an understanding of what data lives in what systems.

Lastly, you want to answer the question of how. How is this data managed? A lot of systems will have you believe that they are “set-it-and-forget-it” but that is simply not the case. You should, at a minimum, review the setup of your system annually. As your business goals change, the data that you collect to support those goals will also change. As your teams change, who has access will change. This is a great time to update your governance documents.

Data governance doesn’t need to be an arduous effort of endless meetings that don’t result in anything. It should be an activity that allows you to get to what you need because you know where everything is and who to ask.

Have questions about how to get your data governance project started? Come find me in me in our Free Slack Group Analytics for Marketers »

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s look at working from home. At the start of the pandemic, most companies had to figure out how to move employee work to remote working as quickly and as safely as possible, when it was possible. Much was made of the future of work.

That begs the question, how’s that going? The Census Bureau added a new question to their monthly survey of US citizens in May of 2020:

“At any time in the last 4 weeks, did you telework or work at home for pay because of the coronavirus pandemic?”

Remote work in pandemic

What we see in the data matches the real world; in the first few months of the pandemic, employees worked from home quite a bit. We saw a lessening over the summer of 2020 and then an increase as the Delta wave hit. Beginning in April 2021, we see a dramatic drop in working remotely as vaccines rolled out to the general population, and then a spike again in January 2022 with the winter Omicron wave. As of March 2022, we’re now at the lowest point in terms of responses to this survey.

It’s important to note that this survey question isn’t about working from home generally. It’s specific to the pandemic itself. What the data tells us is that people feel less of a need to work remotely because of the pandemic now than at any time thus far; for much of the USA workforce, the pandemic is “over” in terms of it compelling working from home.

So what? What does that mean for us? Many, many times over the past two years, pundits have opined on the “new normal” or “next normal”; if we add a trend line to the data, we see a clear trend:

Remote work trend in pandemic

It’s fairly safe to opine that the trend since October 2021 really is the “new normal”. What we conclude from that is the current environment is “normal” – whatever operating conditions and trends you see in your data is more or less how things are and seem to be staying. That means you shouldn’t expect massive swings in your own data as often, and not driven by the pandemic directly. (though there are certainly plenty of other world issues that will cause anomalies in your data, from war to supply chain issues)

The other key takeaway from this data is that information you need to make decisions is readily and in many cases freely available from major governments if you’ve got the time to find it and make use of it. So often we find ourselves asking “Where could I get data about…” and forgetting that our tax dollars have already paid for the information to be collected, collated, vetted, and presented in some format that’s accessible to the public.

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Trust Insights ( is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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