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At Automated Intelligence we help organisations to take control of their data, and we say that a huge part of this is ensuring good data governance.
We’re often asked what exactly data governance is, with many organisations believing it is purely to do with risk management.
And yes, while it is to do with risk to a large extent, data governance is so much more than bringing risk under control.
It is the overall management of data to support its use as a business asset.
Organisations often looked at data as being a by-product, a result of doing business, but now that is changing because they understand how valuable information derived from that data can be.
How will you be successful if your data is of poor quality, not understood, or unavailable?
How many organisations could function without their data? If you lost it overnight, how would your business operate?
In this blog, we look at two fundamental aspects of data governance so organisations can understand why the management of data is critical to success.
- Managing Risk
Risk is undoubtedly the one factor which drives most organisations’ approach to governance.
When it comes to data, risk is the loss of reputation or value due to issues with, or limitations around, acquiring, storing, transforming, moving and consuming data assets.
Organisations must comply with national, regional and industry legislation/ regulations relating to the data they store; a prominent example today being the GDPR. It is estimated there are 200+ updates per day from 750 different regulatory bodies.
To understand risk and compliance, organisations must know what data they have, where it is, who has access to it and how it is being used.
There are many tactical solutions already in place within organisations addressing these questions that have evolved as part of doing business.
Data governance is the unifying foundation that touches upon these processes and practices i.e. security, operations, storage, quality, document and content management. The objective is to bring together all the different data management disciplines spread across multiple business silos.
Without governance across these, organisations will struggle to understand the risk or to remain compliant as regulation and legislation changes to reflect the changing data landscape.
As an example, since the introduction of the GDPR in May 2018, storing or processing information on EU citizens that you have not obtained consent for has exposed organisations to additional risk including substantial fines.
If there is a security breach and the personal details of thousands or even millions of customers are leaked, then, of course, there’s the irreparable reputational damage too.
A breach that exposes customers’ data that you do not have consent/purpose to hold is clearly much worse than data you do have consent for.
Another example of risk is losing the competitive data you’ve built up over many years or somebody else acquiring it -how does that affect your position in the market? You are not able to compete effectively, or you’ve lost your IP entirely.
While risk is synonymous with data governance, the reality is that good governance means good management of data through a range of disciplines.
With this comes additional benefits to your organisation, not least availability and accuracy of that information for key decision–making moments.
For an organisation to function, information needs to be readily available to those who need it, when they need it.
It must be easy for employees to find information, utilise it, and make sense of it, instead of going to many different sources and struggling to pull that information together.
People may be aware of the rules about where data should be kept and how long it should be kept for, but at the same time if it isn’t easy to find the correct location or mark the file appropriately, then this will impede them, making them less effective.
It’s normal for people to find an alternative solution if they come across a ‘blocker’ (we’re a creative bunch!) because at the end of the day, they have a job to do.
Finding information is one thing, but that information being 100% accurate is another. There cannot be multiple versions of the truth which is a big challenge for organisations, especially if you don’t have a good search capability or work within a collaborative platform.
What tends to happen is that people find information and use that as a reference or maybe even a template to start another document. The integrity of the data can be weakened if decisions have been made in the organisation from a superseded or incorrect version, so if there are no rules around that, it can cause chaos.
When you think about data and its relevance, it’s got to be compliant, secure, trustworthy, accurate and mean something to your organisation.
Data governance ensures effective decision-making to support any activity within the business that uses data.
Ultimately, organisations governing their data well can make informed decisions about their competitiveness, their strategy and their future.
For more information on our information governance solution, contact us today on firstname.lastname@example.org