By: Scott Baker, Senior Director of Emerging Business and Data Intelligence at Hitachi Vantara
Today, businesses of all types have an overwhelming amount of information that must be stored, managed and protected via data governance. But this information must also be flexibly and easily accessed by employees. Achieving both data security and end-user freedom is a careful balancing act.
The abundance of data in today’s business world has created a crowded digital space for most companies. Logs, messages, dashboards, reports, alerts and files of all types create confusion, making it difficult for employees to quickly find the exact information they’re looking for.
Data governance programs can help mitigate this confusion, by centralizing and labeling all files, as well as ensuring that all information has been cleansed to ensure high quality. Intelligent data governance also ensures the security of a company’s information — often aligning the organization’s policies and rules with industry regulations and compliance guidelines.
However, while it’s critical to manage and protect corporate information, data governance initiatives also need to enable easy access for the employees who need this data in their everyday jobs. In today’s complex, connected business environment, it can be challenging to achieve this careful balance of data security and easy information access.
Automation: Defining and Applying Customized RulesOne of the chief strategies for maintaining this balance is relying on automated solutions created specifically for the task of data governance. Once rules have been defined — for tagging files, for establishing security protocols and for enabling end-user access — automated technology solutions can apply these rules universally. This makes it easy to manage even large volumes of data and large numbers of users quickly and cost-effectively.
While many executives perceive data governance as a labor-intensive, time-consuming, expensive effort, the truth is that automated solutions greatly simplify this critical task. Employees still need to lead the effort to establish rules and policies that honor both corporate priorities and regulatory/compliance needs. But, once these data management processes and procedures have been defined, advanced software can take over the job of implementing them across the organization’s data.
Because each company operates with its own strategic goals and regulatory constraints, today’s software solutions support a high level of customization for data governance. For example, employees working in the US may be held to entirely different data security standards than staff members in other regions of the world — and geo-coding details can be added to each file to reflect those differences, based on where each user is located.
Managing the Problem of User Mobility
In addition to having employees scattered around the world, today most businesses have a large number of employees working remotely, whether from the road or a home office. These mobile employees are accessing information on a wide range of devices.
Mobile access to data increases employee productivity, but also introduces a new set of issues. Data managers must account for the problem of “shadow IT,” which means end users are finding, installing and utilizing their own technology solutions on an array of official and non-official devices. Employees also may be adding new, unstructured information to existing corporate data centers.
Intelligent data governance means that organizations must maintain visibility into, and control over, all corporate information, no matter where it resides. Again, automated technology solutions can support this effort, by constantly identifying and managing new information across all users and all technology nodes.
Keeping Up with Changing Times
Not only are employees on the move — but legal standards, corporate policies and top-level business strategies are also constantly shifting over time. To deliver optimal results and maximize the value of all corporate information, data governance programs must be designed with agility and flexibility in mind.
Instead of making a series of manual fixes as conditions change, organizations can rely on automated tools to streamline and accelerate this process. A single change made by a data administrator can quickly ensure that all files are brought up to date. Some data might increase in importance, some data might be eliminated, or user access might be prohibited for some files, based on internal or external changes.
Enabling Non-Invasive Data Governance
While the concept of data governance may seem daunting to organizations unfamiliar with it, managing and securing information can actually be accomplished in a non-invasive, low-maintenance manner. In today’s competitive environment, employee productivity is key — and intelligent data governance works behind the scenes to ensure that professionals have the data they need to work effectively, without adding more administrative hurdles to accessing that information.
Because corporate data often contains personal information about customers, intellectual property or other sensitive details, it’s necessary to create some standards and protocols for managing employee access. However, by defining and communicating the reasons behind their policies — then enacting these policies in a completely non-invasive way — it’s possible for organizations to balance their own data governance needs with the end-user freedoms demanded by their employees.