In the age of big data, organisations are seeking to use analytics to their advantage — to improve efficiencies, better understand their customers, and ultimately growth their business. But as companies mature, the need to fully understand how their information assets grow. And the complexity of knowing what data you have and what you can do with it becomes a bit of a challenge.
Data governance, or the ability of an organization to manage the availability, usability, integrity and security of its data, has a key role to play. It’s all about understanding the governance requirements of data in the ‘here and now’ as well as into the future, and knowing how changes in the business (no matter how small) or in the greater market will affect things.
Cut the complexity — reap the rewards
But is there a simple way to harness the power of data governance? Simply put - yes there is. Data governance can be a foundation for growth, from organic growth to an increase in capabilities. Regardless of sector, public, private or third sector, organizations should seek to simplify their approach to data governance. How? There are a number of steps that you can take — like streamlining and rationalizing your information assets, the number of locations they’re kept, and transit points. But that’s not enough; you should also focus on how many people are accessing the data and using it.
Splitting assets for consolidation
The approach to simplification begins with separating information assets that are distinguishing between customer information, operations data and financial information, and marketing and advertising data. Once these sets of data are separated, you can properly address the needs of each element. Of course that’s not to say each bit of data should have its own section, rather just look at grouping the data into sets that make sense.
This helps make the process more efficient and effective by having consolidated storage and backup requirements for each set. In the same way, when you outsource these elements (storage and backup) to service providers or third parties, you can maintain full control by knowing exactly where your data is, who is accessing it and where the transit points are. This approach is much simpler than managing your data using a distributed tool set or a range of different data protection rules and contracts across different geographic regions, thus making yourself subject to different data sovereignty rules.
While there is no set of ‘one size fits all’ rules for all organizations, this approach can be applied to any business or public sector organization. From SMEs to full-scale enterprises the approach will work but it will have to be consistent. This is especially true as each particular industry has its own sets of challenges, as does the markets in which public sector organisations operate in. For example, the public sector is governed by procurement rules, financial services is driven by compliance and the charity sector faces significant budget challenges.
What are the other benefits?
Apart from spurring organizational growth, reducing the complexity of your data governance strategy can in turn reduce the time and cost of risk assessment and management. With a simplified view of data governance you can focus on your key governance challenges and therefore have a clearer view of the associated risks.
The role of the service provider
When it comes to scoping out the benefits of simplified data governance or splitting out your information assets, the help of an expert service provider can be hugely advantageous. For example, when it comes to data storage, hosting your data in a service provider’s data centre ensures you don’t need to worry about factors like physical security because they will have the proper controls in place and expertise to handle everything.
In the same way, using a trusted provider to assist with managing access to the data can also be beneficial. A service provider can manage access to your information remotely and manage the connections around it, while you can simplify user groups and the number of people within them.
Ultimately, it’s all about understanding your organization’s data, what is important to your business to do with it and apply appropriate governance. While the help of a third party is beneficial, it doesn’t replace the need to understand the risk and liability around your data. Through appropriate data governance you can give your business the best foundation for healthy enterprise, regardless of the sector in which you operate.