The Value of Understanding Business Processes with John Moran

September 8, 2022

Episode Overview:

In this episode of CDO Matters, Malcolm interviews John Moran, the Director of Enterprise Data Governance with Thermo Fisher Scientific — a $40BB publicly traded manufacturing and services company providing innovative products and solutions to research scientists around the globe. In his role, John is responsible for establishing and maintaining enterprise-wide data policies, standards and processes across domains, supporting customers and products in some of the most complex and regulated industries on the globe.   

Throughout their conversation, Malcolm digs into how John’s team has helped create a culture of data governance at Thermo Fisher, turning a potential obstacle into a value-add for their business. Through the efforts of the data governance team, Thermo Fisher has developed a culture of data governance as a business enabler and not just a regulatory requirement. Even with a complex and fragmented environment of over 100 ERPs and other core business systems, John’s team delivers data governance value through a focus on three key pillars:  

  • Listening to customer needs and speaking the language of the business  
  • Focusing only on data that matters and prioritizing governance efforts only on that data that will move the needle for the business.  
  • Engaging in business process analysis, where those responsible and accountable for data governance policies have an intimate understanding of how end consumers (not just internal customers/stakeholders) use data, and how policy changes have downstream impacts.   

In other words, Thermo Fisher takes a “data as a product” approach to data governance to differentiate themselves from the competing product management companies. This is most certainly a valuable lesson for CDOs who are considering more product-centric approaches to managing their data — regardless of if they plan on monetizing data or not.   

Another key takeaway for CDOs is the benefits Thermo Fisher has realized through effective prioritization of data governance efforts — which are a function of better listening, a deep understanding of how data drives business value and a focus on process analysis. In our near 30-minute conversation, John never uses the word “domain” to describe how they prioritize their understanding of business value — a key lesson for any CDO wanting to more closely align with their business instead of their data.   

Key Moments

  • [3:41] Keys to Data Governance Success 
  • [5:40] Highlighting Customer Needs with Product Management 
  • [10:00] Data Governance Prioritization 
  • [12:18] Unlocking the Value of Data 
  • [13:52] Taking a Business-centric Approach to Data Governance 
  • [15:16] The Relation Between ERP Consolidation and Governance 
  • [18:05] The Role of Thermo Fisher’s Data Governance Team 
  • [19:10] Turning Back the Clock: Data Governance Takeaways 
  • [21:10] Creating a Compelling Governance Message to Drive Value 
  • [22:05] Business Literacy and Understanding Potential Value 
  • [22:59] Shifts in Leadership 

Key Takeaways:

Data Governance Obstacles [4:09 — 5:31] 

“What I would say in terms of driving success…is that data governance can mean many things to folks. Sometimes they don’t conjure up the best images of things. You sort of have to get past that barrier…try to figure out where they are and meet them where they’re at. Get past the terminology and try to develop some common understanding of what data they are working with and what their challenges are.” — John Moran 

Assembling a Strong Governance Team [13:52 — 14:44] 

“What I really wanted were people who were ready, willing and able to learn… who have demonstrated the ability to grasp complex topics… because with data, especially product data, we are collecting and managing hundreds of data attributes and there is logic all over the place… People who were the most successful really understood the supply chain and what happened downstream and were able to explain that to other people…. We encourage our team to understand all of the downstream impacts [of data].” — John Moran 

Benefitting from Governed Data [17:07 — 20:18] 

“With so much data, if you treat everything with equal importance, you sort of lose your way…[You need to consider] what are the decisions we plan on making with governed data that we can’t make today…and then connecting that and quantifying that…Then you are not talking about data governance for data governance’s sake, you are talking about enabling whatever that financial benefit is.” — John Moran 

Communicating with Executive Leadership [21:25 — 22:04] 

“[Process analysts] need to be able to speak the language that our executives speak: making money, saving money, reducing risk. If you can’t connect [data efforts] to one of those three things, it’s going to be hard to change behaviors.” — John Moran 

About the Guest

John Moran is the Director of Enterprise Data Governance for Thermo Fisher Scientific. He previously worked with Intuit before transitioning to his current position of 16 years. John is Six Sigma Black Belt certified in techniques and tools for process improvement. 

Episode Links & Resources:


How can today’s Chief Data Officers help their organizations become more data-driven? Join former Gartner analyst Malcolm Hawker as he interviews on thought leaders on all things data management – ranging from data fabrics to blockchain and more — and learns why they matter to today’s CDOs. If you want to dig deep into the CDO Matters that are top-of-mind for today’s modern data leaders, this show is for you.

Malcolm Hawker
Malcolm Hawker is an experienced thought leader in data management and governance and has consulted on thousands of software implementations in his years as a Gartner analyst, architect at Dun & Bradstreet and more. Now as an evangelist for helping companies become truly data-driven, he’s here to help CDOs understand how data can be a competitive advantage.


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