Cultivating Insights with Governed Data at FBL Financial

Aug 15, 2021 |
Thomas Brence

Not long ago, data governance programs were seen as red tape and control centers for compliance. That’s how governance got started—but that doesn’t represent where most data governance programs are today. Increasingly, data governance programs are able to scale by focusing on using those same policies and processes from their origins in compliance, but instead applying them to deliver high-quality data that people can find and understand. This modern, analytics use case is present in governance programs in nearly even industry, even financial services, where compliance once was the dominant function for governance.

That’s certainly been the case with FBL Financial, the story that we’re featuring in this month’s episode in our Data Empowerment Experts series. For Scot Hansen, Enterprise Data Governance Director, their data governance program provided a way to deliver a foundation of trusted data that the rest of his organization could use to cultivate new ideas, illuminate insights, and ultimately break down silos to scale across the enterprise. As we do with every Data Empowerment Experts webinar, I sat down with Scot to discuss his own origin story and gather some additional insights from him on their impact throughout FBL Financial.

Question: What’s your background and how did you get into the world of governance?

Answer: I have 20 years of experience in the insurance industry (crop insurance, specialty products, personal and commercial lines) that has focused on data and its usage.  I hold a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics with a master’s degree in Business Administration and started my career as a developer focused on web, forms, and GIS applications.  The desire to understand the application of data and improve its usage in the business decision-making process lead me down the path of leading various reporting and analytics teams.  Eventually my technical and business expertise afforded me the opportunity to lead efforts that focused on building data warehouses with the business user in mind (self-service) and starting a governance program to improve the quality of data used for reporting, analytics, and decision-making.  In my current role, I serve as the Data Governance Director for Farm Bureau Financial Services and have the privilege of leading the Data Governance and Business Intelligence team where we focus on improving the quality of data by providing accurate and timely information based on data governance best practices. I also lead various initiatives focused on improving the quality of data and improving the client member experience.

Question: Who are the best advocates for data at your organization? 

Answer: The short and simple answer is “everyone,” but it all starts with buy-in and continuous support from senior management across the organization. You do this by showing value.

Question: How can you help to improve data literacy?

Answer: Our data governance program is working to align business terminology, underlying data elements, and reporting to improve the availability and accuracy of information.  This includes the tools and processes associated with a business glossary, lineage, metadata, and data quality. 

Question: What parts of your business benefit most from having trusted data? 

Answer: To start with it would be the consumers of data and those that use the information to make decisions, but this also benefits technical teams by reducing the time and effort required to issues related to data.  Ultimately our client members benefit through improved products and service.

Question: How have you helped to build a data culture? 

Answer: The data culture at Farm Bureau Financial Services has always been strong, but also siloed.  Part of the role of data governance is to break down these siloes to improve communication and transparency around data.

I hope that you’ll join Scot and I later this month during his episode of the Data Empowerment Experts. He’ll share the process they followed, how they focused on creating wins that they could build on, and how that momentum enabled their team to scale their program enterprise wide. I look forward to seeing you there!