“What distinguishes Web Giants is not the structure of their governance but the culture that irrigates and animates this organization.”

A democracy, simply put, is a form of government where all people have the authority to choose their legislation. Well when referring to data, data democracy refers to all people having the authority to access and understand their enterprise’s information.

Data Democracy is not a form of governance

Contrarily as the name suggests, Data Democracy is not a governance model.

It is definitely not a model in which the rules governing data distribution would be put to vote and defined according to a majority approach. Nor is it an organization in which Data Stewards are elected as “data representatives” into an electoral body of the enterprise.

A Data Democracy refers to a corporate culture, an open model where liberty goes hand in hand with responsibility. Its main objective is to make a company’s data widely accessible to the greatest number of people, if not to all. In practice, any employee is able to pull data values at any level.


How did Data Democracy come about?

To understand what Data Democracy is, it is important to know about the other data cultures. These are:

  • Data Anarchy: a system where operational professions develop their own clandestine base (“shadow IT”) which serves their immediate interests.
  • Data Monarchy: a system that has a very strong asymmetry in data access depending on hierarchical position.
  • Data Aristocracy: A system characterized by a more significant degree of freedom than in Data Monarchy, but which is solely reserved to a very select subset of the population.
  • and finally Data Democracy.

Learn more about the different data cultures

In this case, the mantra of Data Democracy is to open up the potential offered up by data to as many people as possible. This freedom of access offers a maximum of opportunities to create value for the company; it provides every employee with the ability, at their level, to use all accessible and compatible resources within their needs in order to produce value locally.

This freedom only works if the regulations and the basic tools are implemented, and each employee is responsible for how they use their data. Therefore, the distribution of necessary and sufficient information is required to allow employees to male proper use of it while adhering to regulations.


The rights & duties of Data Democracy : infographic

The democratic approach presents an interesting challenge to balance: on the one hand, you must ensure that the right to use data can truly be exercised, and on the other hand you must counterbalance this right with a certain number of duties.

The right granted to every employee to use the organization’s data for their own activities is only tangible from the moment that this employee has the necessary information to identify and localize the data they may need.

In return, employees must also be made aware of the responsibilities that they must assume when they wish to make use of the data. They can also be adapted to the context of the company and to the nature of the data offered.


Here a list of some of the rights & duties in infographic form.

Download our white paper on Data Democracy

The adoption of such a culture can only work if everyone benefits. To learn more about how Data Democracy is constructed and its benefits, download our white paper:

“How does Data Democracy strengthen Agile Data Governance?”