What Is Data Governance and Why Does it Matter?

Sheet of paper on table showing a variety of data: what is data governance?

Big data has changed elections, public affairs, and U.S. government policies. Unfortunately, those who fall behind on data are unlikely to advance their objectives. For political campaigns and public advocacy groups, the collection, management, and use of data are essential. It makes the difference between achieving a goal—such as winning a campaign—and getting bogged down and falling behind the competition. If you aren’t sure where to begin, you’re in luck. As leaders in political data, our team at Aristotle is passionate about sharing this knowledge with those who need it! Read on to learn more about data governance and why it is so important for campaigns, political action committees (PAC), and grassroots organizations.

Or, if you’re ready to start data targeting now, explore our data tool, MatchIT. This helpful tool increases the value of your data by harnessing the combined power of your database and ours!

The Biggest Challenge of Big Data

With too much information and too little direction, big data can quickly become a mess. However, at its best, political data makes things easier for campaigns and public policy groups. You can use the right data to better hone your message and target the right donors. For example, imagine that your campaign needs to raise money to get on the ballot and support its operations for the coming election cycle. How do you get started? It would be nice to know who gives money to political campaigns, which party they contribute to, and their average donation.

The right political data helps to identify donors and ask for the right amount. You do not want to discourage any donation by asking for way too much, but you do not want to leave money on the table by asking for too little. At its worst, political data is completely unmanageable. There is so much information available that sifting through it to develop an actionable plan to achieve your goals becomes far more expensive and time-consuming than it is worth.

This is the core challenge of data in politics: There is an enormous amount of information available, but it can be difficult to confirm its accuracy, manage it, and use it. At its core, data governance is a strategy for managing data.

Data Governance Ensures Integrity, Usability, Control, and Security

Data governance is the solution to the inherent challenges that come with the era of big data in politics. As defined by Google Cloud, data governance is a term used to describe the entire set of processes that parties employ to ensure that their data is “secure, private, accurate, available, and usable.” In other words, data governance is the system (or lack thereof) that your campaign, PAC, or political group has in place to manage your data.

All organizations have some form of data governance in place. If you have an incomplete or under-developed process, then that is an example of poor data governance. On the other hand, a more comprehensive system that helps to confirm the accuracy, security, and usability of data is a far better example of strong data governance. Data governance is a core component of an effective data management strategy.

Why Data Governance Is Crucial

When it comes to campaigns, PACs, and political groups, data governance is crucial. Keep in mind that data has changed elections and public policy in recent years. Most people in politics have a general understanding of the importance of data—especially when it comes to the targeting of potential voters and donors. However, far fewer people have a true appreciation for the importance of strong data governance. More data is not always better. Instead, campaigns and political groups need to have the right data and they need a system for managing and using that data. Here are four reasons why data governance is essential in modern politics:

1.      Accuracy Matters

How accurate is your data? Do you have any way of cross-referencing it or making sure that it is up-to-date? Knowing the address of a voter five years and two moves ago may not be very useful. Data governance helps to ensure accuracy.

2.      Usability Matters

How easy is it to use your political data? Opening up a disorganized spreadsheet with tens of thousands of bits of random information may not be useful—even if the best data in the world is on that spreadsheet. Data governance helps to ensure that you can take action based on the data you have.

3.      Security Matters

The last thing any campaign wants to deal with is a serious data breach. Not only do you likely have proprietary information, but there are legal regulations and strong consumer expectations that demand data security. A data governance strategy should protect sensitive information.

What Is Aristotle MatchIT and How Does it Work?

Aristotle MatchIT is a textbook example of a tool that you can use to help with data governance. Your campaign or organization likely already has some data available. We have tens of millions of relevant records available—from our National Voter File to our National Consumer File. With MatchIT, we help clients put our data together with their data to create a powerful, actionable, and well-managed solution. Here is how Aristotle MatchIT works:

  1. Create an account
  2. Upload the data that you have;
  3. Choose the data/service to want to add;
  4. Download a new, more comprehensive list.

One of the core advantages of Aristotle MatchIT is that we will clean up and enhance your list as part of the process. During the process, our technology will standardize your files and add relevant information. For example, imagine that you have the name and address of a donor that looks like a great match for your campaign. We might have their most recent phone number and their best email. If so, MatchIT from Aristotle can help you put all of that information together to make it more actionable.

Aristotle Is the Leader in Political Data

At Aristotle, we have provided the foundation for political campaigns and public policy affairs organizations since 1983. As leaders in political data, our team puts a strong emphasis on the importance of proper data governance. If you have any specific questions about political data, data governance, or our campaign management services more generally, we are here to help. Contact us today to set up an initial appointment. We can’t wait to help you work toward your goals!

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