Depending where you are in the world, to get an ounce of gold can mean having to mine up to 18 tons of dirt, to obtain it. The gold is valuable and prized, whilst the dirt valueless and piled up. In parallel, the digital revolution in organisations, is accumulating ever more piles of data in pursuit of the valuable and prized outcomes of productivity, innovation and customer satisfaction. But that’s where this analogy ends, because in our digital world; data growth is no longer in proportion to the prized outcomes. It is much more.
Not only is more technology (machinery, sensors etc) creating this data growth, but it is also coming from internal reporting and data analysis and work in progress projects across departments. Often the same source data is used, but then multiple variations on it are created, by different departments. An example might be three reports from different areas, all quoting the company brand share but all stating a slightly different number caused by different rounding, or not using the latest source data update. In addition, these variations can be found on many devices (internal and external), are often accessed and amended by many people and applications, and backed up two or three times in different places, depending on who is on what system. If the mother core data is ever amended again then many poorly set up children reports, will lack integrity and accuracy. The result can be several versions of the truth – leading to poor insight, poor decision making, and ultimately more risk. This problem is so acute I know some boards now have a specialist team to ensure that any data that gets to them, fits to one version of their pre-defined truth.
Your organisation may be on top of these challenges. Most are not. The pursuit of growth and innovation are key priorities for most CEO’s, and they need improved IT solutions to deliver these objectives. According to McKinsey’s recent report on Unlocking Business Acceleration, nearly 60% of CIO’s indicated that their CEO depends on them to achieve the organization’s top three business priorities. The trade-offs CIO’s claim to make in order to achieve more agility, can include a reduction of good process, including security and data governance. This is a false choice, as it can increase the risk of poor performance and ultimately customer experience. Digital trust amongst customers, suppliers and employees therefore, is far more important for long term sustainable growth than short term agility gains.
Good governance is critical for cyber resilience, successful digital transformation, better decision-making, reputation management and customer satisfaction. Organisations which want to exist in ten years’ time need to do this well. It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like in 2029 but one thing is certain. There will be more data than today and it will be moving faster and between more people and systems.
Information governance therefore is a strategy for your data management to ensure the organisation delivers its objectives, and that the fog created by mountains of data is cleared. Regulation has been a key driver to develop governance policies. GDPR for instance, will have started many governance programmes to meet the new rules, but then stopped short of managing data for the entire enterprise, and achieving even greater benefits. They were set up for one purpose only; to meet a legal requirement. This project style approach implies an end point, which is not only out of step with GDPR, but in reality is a missed opportunity to improve governance.
A good modern data governance strategy has to be agile, scalable, and will use whatever AI and automated capabilities are appropriate to ensure good process does not slow down development work. The main components will include a clear understanding of what data you have, where it is, who owns it, how its secured, who uses it, how is it updated and how is it deleted. Also clear policies around how these components are regulated, with ownership given to the right people to ensure the governance strategy supports organisational objectives. Do all this well and you have a chance of success. Do it badly and you will forever underperform.
Derek Willins. Advent IM Head of Client Development 12.08.2019. https://www.advent-im.co.uk/