I consider myself lucky to be in a field that never stands still. The rate of change across data and analytics these days is nothing short of breath-taking and is continuing to accelerate as we seem to collect ever more data, of a wider variety of data types, all at a faster pace than ever before. While this presents numerous challenges for data management, it starts opening up new opportunities to leverage this data to gain new insight and provide new opportunities.

We recently hosted a virtual event around the critical importance of data governance in enabling the data-driven enterprise, and as Trevor Meisel, Senior Manager, Data and Analytics, New South Wales at NTT, said during the presentation: 'Data is everywhere, data governance is not'.

Data governance is the secret sauce in pulling off strong business outcomes around data as it‘s where business takes ownership and accountability of the data, its quality, and its usage in line with operational and strategic imperatives.

I’ve always taken a pragmatic approach when it comes to work and my career. You don't need to be the best all the time, you just need to strive to be a little better today than you were yesterday. If you continue to do this day in, day out, the small daily efforts start to compound. So when you stop to take stock of your journey (and you really should), it becomes clear how much these incremental changes add up.

Taking this kind of approach towards data governance means that you’ll start to achieve measurable, lasting improvements rather than a flash in the pan that can be brought about by a concerted initiative and push, where both business and technology teams are hyped while the initiative is underway, but the shiny-ness fades once the project is over and everyone returns to being busy with their normal, day to day routines.

Unless data governance is embedded into your day-to-day routine, the discipline required will almost certainly start to wane. Don't get me wrong, I think initiatives are important to entrench data governance into the business culture to help give it the focus it deserves and to establish the required tooling to support the initiative,  however, the ongoing application of data governance needs to happen outside of this construct.

From my experience, when I speak to people about data governance within their organization, a consistent sentiment is that while people recognize the importance of data governance, the effort required seems almost insurmountable. My advice is that data governance shouldn't be seen as an all-or-nothing proposition. Rather, it should be a journey along a continuum, where you should have a long-term vision or goal of where you want to get to, but your immediate focus should then turn to improving where you are currently sitting today (be a little better today than you were yesterday). For many organizations, this means just getting started. Which brings me to Azure Purview.

Azure Purview is Microsoft's next evolution of their Microsoft Data Catalog and is described as a unified data governance solution that helps you manage and govern your on-premises, multicloud, and Software-as-a-Service data. While there are comprehensive tools in the market, that are well suited to support quite mature data governance frameworks, policies and practices, Azure Purview provides an easy to access, provision and use data governance toolset that makes the task of starting on a data governance journey accessible to pretty much any organization. Is it the best data governance tool on the market today? Not yet. But as the product roadmap unfolds to deliver integrated data quality and master data management solutions among other enhancements, I think it will become a serious contender in the space. In the meantime, it has strong data cataloging, business glossary and stewardship functionality that make it an easy choice to get you going on your journey.

So what are you waiting for? The best time to get moving on your data governance journey was yesterday. The second-best time is right now.