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April 30 - May 1, 2025
North Javits Center | New York City

Bridging the Divide: The Relationship Between Data Literacy and Data Governance

In the digital age, where data can bring about immense value, the concepts of data literacy and data governance have emerged as critical components for organizations striving to harness the full potential of their data assets. While they may seem like separate entities, data literacy and data governance are interconnected, each playing a pivotal role in enhancing an organization's effectiveness with data. This article explores the partnership between data literacy and data governance, shedding light on how they work together to foster a data-driven culture that drives innovation, efficiency, and informed decision-making.


Understanding the Fundamentals

Data Literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyze, and communicate with data. It encompasses the skills necessary for individuals within an organization to ask the right questions about data, build knowledge, make decisions, and communicate meaning to others. Just as literacy refers to the ability to read and write with proficiency, data literacy involves a similar proficiency with data.


Data Governance, on the other hand, defines who can take what action, upon what data, in what situations, using which methods while following established policies, standards, processes, roles, and definitions so that data is managed as an asset. A data governance program is essential for ensuring data quality, privacy, compliance, and efficient data management across its lifecycle.


Metadata can be defined as 'data about data.' It provides essential information about the content, quality, condition, and origin of data, making it easier to locate, use, and manage effectively. It includes details like descriptions, tags, categories, and creation or modification dates, among others. By making data comprehensible and actionable, metadata lays a solid foundation for both governance and literacy efforts.


The Relationship

The relationship between data literacy and data governance forms the bedrock upon which organizations can build their strategies to leverage data effectively. Each one of them not only complements but also enhances the other, creating a holistic ecosystem where data is managed, understood, and utilized strategically. Data governance lays down the essential framework and policies that govern data usage, underpinning the quality, privacy, and compliance of data handling. Within this structured environment, data literacy thrives, as individuals across the organization are equipped with the knowledge and skills to engage with data in meaningful ways. From the foundational framework provided by governance to the empowerment of individuals through education, a cycle of continuous improvement emerges, fostering a culture that values data-driven decision-making and risk mitigation.


This important relationship between data literacy and data governance, further detailed through the following points, illustrates how they collectively support a robust, compliant, and efficient approach to maximizing the value of an organization’s data.

  • Foundation and Framework: Data governance provides the framework and policies that guide data usage, ensuring data quality, privacy, and compliance. This structured environment becomes the fertile ground in which data literacy can flourish. When individuals understand the boundaries and standards set by data governance, they are more equipped to use data responsibly and effectively.
  • Empowerment through Education: Data literacy initiatives empower individuals within an organization to make the most of the data governance framework. Educated employees who understand how to interpret, question, and communicate data can leverage the governance policies to ensure that their data-driven initiatives are compliant, accurate, and effective.
  • Feedback Loop: As more individuals become data literate, they are likely to identify opportunities for improving data governance policies and practices. This feedback loop leads to continuous refinement of governance strategies, making them more relevant and effective in meeting the organization's needs.
  • Cultivating a Data-Driven Culture: The partnership between data literacy and data governance cultivates a data-driven culture within an organization. Data literacy ensures that all members of the organization can participate in data-driven decision-making processes, while data governance ensures that these processes are conducted in a controlled, efficient, and compliant manner.
  • Risk Mitigation: Together, data literacy and governance play a crucial role in risk management. Data literacy equips employees with the ability to recognize and avoid potential data misuse or misinterpretation, while a data governance program ensures that controls and compliance measures are in place to mitigate risks associated with data handling, with metadata providing the necessary details to navigate towards these goals effectively.

This intricate relationship gains further depth and dimension through a comprehensive understanding of metadata, a central theme explored in George Firican's presentation at Data Universe, "The Role of Metadata in Governance, Business & AI." The narrative is enriched by Jordan Morrow's insightful approach to enhancing the capabilities of data professionals with business acumen, a pivotal aspect of his Data Universe session, "Empowering Data and AI Professionals to Succeed in Business." Together, these perspectives weave a compelling story about the transformative power of aligning data practices with strategic business objectives, underscoring the essential role of metadata and business savvy in navigating the complexities of the digital era.


Implementation Strategies

To harness the benefits of the partnership between data literacy and data governance, organizations should consider the following strategies:

  • Integrated Initiatives: Implement data literacy programs that are aligned with the organization's data governance framework. This ensures that employees understand not only how to use data but also the rules and standards governing its use. This needs to be done in conjunction with introducing metadata as a core component, helping employees understand not only the data itself but the context and framework that define its use.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Encourage collaboration between departments to ensure that data governance policies are informed by a wide range of perspectives and that data literacy efforts are tailored to the specific needs of different teams.
  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation: Recognize that both data literacy and data governance are not one-time initiatives but ongoing processes. Regularly review and update governance policies and literacy programs to reflect new technologies, data sources, and organizational objectives.



The partnership between data literacy and data governance is essential for organizations looking to navigate the complexities of the digital landscape. By fostering data literacy, organizations empower their workforce to make informed, data-driven decisions within the secure and structured framework provided by robust data governance. Together, these elements form the backbone of a resilient, innovative, and forward-thinking organization in the era of big data.



Written by George Firican & Jordan Morrow

George Firican

Founder, Lights on Data

George is passionate about putting the lights on data, being ranked among Top 5 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Big Data, Digital Disruption, and LinkedIn Top Voice in Data Governance. George has been a data governance and management professional for more than 15 years. One of his passions is to create informative, practical and engaging educational content to share with individuals such as yourself, and help organizations get more visibility on social media. George is the proud founder of and its YouTube channel and is a co-host of the Lights On Data Show.


Jordan Morrow

CEO, Bodhi Data

Jordan Morrow is known as the "Godfather of Data Literacy", having helped pioneer the field by building one of the world's first data literacy programs and driving thought leadership. He is also the founder and CEO of Bodhi Data. Morrow is a global trailblazer in the world of data literacy and enjoys his time traveling the world speaking and/or helping companies. He served as the Chair of the Advisory Board for The Data Literacy Project, has spoken at numerous conferences around the world, and is an active voice in the data and analytics community. He has also helped companies and organizations around the world, including the United Nations, build and understand data literacy. Morrow is based near Salt Lake City, Utah and is the author of three books: Be Data Literate, Be Data Driven, and Be Data Analytical, all published by Kogan Page.