A new independent data governance industry association for Australian business, Data Governance Australia (DGA) was launched at a panel event in Melbourne on Tuesday.
The DGA, whose mission is to establish best practice industry standards and benchmarks around the collection, use and management of data in Australia will be chaired by former ACCC Chair Graeme Samuel.
Data Republic is proud to be named as a founding member of the DGA alongside the likes of leading Australian business and data specialists, including Westpac, Qantas Loyalty, NAB, Scentre Group, Woolworths, IAG, Quantium, Veda, Fly Buys and Allens.
To coincide with the launch, we sat with Data Republic, CEO, Paul McCarney to discuss DGA’s mission, the potential for industry self-regulation around data governance and what he hopes to achieve alongside DGA in the next twelve months.
Q: Why do you think the DGA is necessary for Australian industry?
There’s no denying that there is an increasing use of data across business and society as a whole and with that increased use comes increased risks.
We hear about security and privacy breaches all the time, but while it is the government’s job to regulate the way businesses use data in order to protect consumer privacy, there’s currently no body which provides formal guidelines or a Code of Practice to support industry to make best practice choices on data collection and analysis and to hold them to account on how they ethically utilize customer data.
In the absence of this formalized industry leadership around the governance of data, we’ve seen an enormous amount of mistrust between companies themselves in the way they handle data, mistrust between companies and government bodies, and more importantly a great deal of mistrust between consumers and companies.
With DGA in place, companies can join a network of Australian market leaders who follow an agreed data governance code, enabling industry to self-regulate fairly and ultimately build trust with consumers.
DGA’s mission is to provide those guidelines and to help industry self-regulate to best-practice rather than be stifled by some of the over-regulation on data practices we’ve seen in other markets.
It is my view that data will be one of the key drivers for Australian productivity in the next 20 years and I’d hope that Australia ends up as one of the leading countries in data innovation – but that will only be achieved if governments aren’t forced to overregulate due to industry not following best-practice on how they collect and analyze various data sources.
DGA has been set up to help all parties – governments, industry and consumers – to feel that they can trust in the way data is collected, handled and managed throughout digital ecosystems.
Q: Why did you want to be personally involved as a representative of Data Republic?
My drive to initially conceive, and then continue to be involved with the DGA has a lot to do with what I’ve been exposed to over the past few years as an executive on boards of various companies and as the CEO of a data start-up.
I’ve spent many years immersed in the ways data is (and often isn’t) being leveraged within major companies, as such I have deep perspective on the role of effective data governance in increasing the yield of data assets.
I’m also passionate about helping companies navigate the ethical, legal and technological barriers to effective data use. I believe we need to shift the dialogue around data in Australia – data isn’t a dirty word, it has the potential to be the engine of the Australian economy but industry needs to step up to the plate and show that the ethical, best practice collection and use of data can drive real benefits for consumers.
That’s why I’m so excited to be involved in DGA to support this self-regulation.
Q: Do you believe that industry is truly capable of self-regulating data governance to protect consumer privacy?
Yes. Ultimately industry and companies know that their customers are their primary asset and they will do whatever it takes to protect and care for them.
Customers have never had more choice than they do right now. Customers will continue to hold their money tightly and make choices based on trust, as such its absolutely in the best interests of industry to self-regulate to build trust in the ecosystem and to deliver the best possible service to customers. The way customer data is collected and managed is key to both of those constructs.
I absolutely believe in self-regulation, industry should be leading the charge and staying ahead of consumer expectations. In conversations I’ve had with regulators to date, an association devoted to supporting best-practice collection and use of data has been flagged as something that been missing – it’s time to close this gap.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve alongside DGA in the first twelve months of its creation?
I believe the DGA has set some fairly aggressive deadlines around developing and registering an industry Code of Practice for data governance to ensure that there are enforceable guidelines for DGA members to lead with best-practice industry standards. Our chair, Graeme Samuels understands this area very well and has already brought much discipline and rigor to the board about how best to develop such a code.
Beyond setting industry benchmarks, I’d hope that DGA can provide real support and advocacy for participating organizations, providing them with the trusted infrastructure they need to use data both ethically and effectively.
Hopefully, we can come to a clear understanding with government about how we can work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for both consumers and Australian productivity as a whole.