What is adaptive data governance?

This article was written by Collibra and originally appeared on the Collibra Blog here: https://www.collibra.com/blog/what-is-adaptive-data-governance


What makes adaptive data governance different?

Adaptive data governance represents a transformation in the ways organizations use and benefit from data governance. Data professionals who embrace adaptive data governance understand  that data governance impacts the entire business, not just data programs. In order to bring business value, data governance must be flexible to meet the changing needs of the organization and all its team members.

Traditional data governance centers on compliance and regulation. Many organizations often don’t even consider establishing a formal data governance practice until they realize their vulnerabilities to regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and BCBS 239. But a narrow focus on compliance limits the impact that data governance can make.

Traditional data governance supports a single-style, command-and-control approach to governance. This creates rigid organizational practices that leave companies unable to adapt to changing circumstances, be those market disruptions or new regulations.

Unlike traditional data governance, adaptive data governance is flexible and dynamic. Teams that embrace adaptive data governance understand that business situations change frequently and governance approaches must accommodate those changes.  Adaptive data governance allows organizations to balance constraint and liberty while navigating through change. Gartner’s Judah and Remzah illustrate the juxtaposition of traditional and adaptive data governance in Figure 1 below.


Therefore, adaptive data governance expands the use and applicability of traditional data governance, promoting flexible decision making and business outcomes.

What are the benefits of adaptive governance?

Traditional data governance focuses on protecting the business, but organizations need to leverage data for more than just defensive needs. Adaptive data governance is beneficial because organizations can tackle offensive use cases while ensuring compliance and minimizing risk. There are three major categories of use cases that adaptive data governance supports:

  1. Grow the business (revenue focused)
  2. Run the business (cost focused)
  3. Protect the business (risk focused)

Common use cases:

Grow the business(revenue focused) Run the business(cost focused) Protect the business(risk focused)
  • Identify new customers and market opportunities
  • Innovate product and service offerings
  • Increase customer lifetime value
  • Accelerate time to market
  • Optimize promotions and marketing campaigns
  • Reduce IT operations and maintenance costs
  • Eliminate duplicate data spend
  • Optimize supply chain operations
  • Optimize sales and marketing efficiency
  • Improve production inventory efficiency
  • Avoid regulatory fines and penalties
  • Streamline auditing and reporting
  • Protect against data breaches and other data incidents
  • Increase customer and investor trust


With a flexible and action-oriented approach to data governance, data governance is no longer a dirty word to business users; organizations can be nimble even under the face of constraints.

Building a framework for adaptive data governance

Adaptive data governance empowers efficient decision making. In order to implement adaptive data governance, organizations need to understand how their data citizens use data. To develop that understanding it can be helpful to consider questions such as:


  • Who is involved in making business decisions? Are decisions made unilaterally?
  • Who are the stakeholders that influence the decisions and how are they involved?


  • What are the key decisions to be made?
  • What data and analytics assets inform these decisions?
  • What actions lead to a decision? What key indicators measure performance?


  • Where can stakeholders get access to data assets?
  • Where can they collaborate on data assets?


  • Why are we making these decisions at all? Are they related to specific strategic goals? Can we measure the impact?

Required capabilities for adaptive data governance

Adaptive data governance helps organizations embrace agility and accelerate digital transformation. Data governance teams looking to enable data stewards and other uses to create value from data should prioritize specific technology capabilities such as:

  • Business glossaries to standardize definitions of business terms, rules and regulations
  • Reference data management to reconcile data between systems for more accurate analysis and reporting
  • Data helpdesk to raise, manage and resolve issues; involve the right stakeholders; and improve trust in data quality
  • Data dictionary to document organizational metadata and its use, origin, format and relationship to other data
  • Active metadata graph to continuously refresh and improve context around information stored in the data ecosystem
  • Privacy by design to manage policies and compliance and incorporate privacy into all data activities
  • Embedded enterprise data catalog to enable business users to discover and examine trusted data across the enterprise in minutes
  • Intuitive workflow management to streamline processes and facilitate collaboration
  • Wide-ranging connectivity to connect to common data sources and systems

Collibra Data Governance

Across the globe, hundreds of organizations use Collibra Data Governance to embrace adaptive data governance and achieve Data Intelligence. Collibra Data Governance allows organizations to create a shared language around their data to facilitate agile decision making and help them keep pace with change. With Collibra’s secure and scalable platform and automated governance and stewardship tasks, businesses can continue to trust their data while they grow.