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Moving information recording from paper to electrons was a disruptive change, much like the change in written documents moving from stone to papyrus. This modern transformation is creating a labyrinth of new Data Governance issues, myriad incorrect assumptions, unnecessary procedures, rivers of external rules, conflicting internal policies, and business groups speaking different languages while using the same words.
Global organizations must comprehend differences among data regulations across many venues, and while some laws only pertain to information used and held in specific geographic areas or industry segments, other laws cover information wherever it resides within the organization’s global information structure! Efforts to manage data regulatory compliance are usually limited to individual departments. Yet, information security and regulation requirements change with time, user, and location, and need to be incorporated in data storage and user authorization.
Traditionally, the leadership role for information technology is superior to the leadership role for information administration. The difference is subtle but strategic. Information technology, managed by a CIO, includes all computers, servers, networks, software, Database Management Systems (DBMS), routers, data centers, and clouds. This technology structure captures data, holds it in pools, moves it quickly, sorts and parks it, and then delivers it to users. These elements form the highways and streets for the flow of data. Managing information technology is a full-time job.
Information Administration, in its turn, is concerned with Data Architecture, the format consistency of information, its quality level, data timeliness, data protection, and the correct business characterization of information transformation as it moves along the electronic highways to other software and hardware systems.
This leader (if one exists in the enterprise) administers the teams that model the information, track its flow, and assure accuracy of definition to eliminate perceptual misunderstandings and errors as data flows among disparate software systems and reports. This is not only a big job; it is the job that actually drives the purpose of the organization since it is data that captures all the business facts. Hardware and software systems only facilitate data’s travel. Hardware and networks are continually replaced, but if the information used to run the organization were lost or corrupted, work would halt.
Who is in charge of managing the information flow across the entire electronic enterprise? Often this strategic leadership position fragments among a number of departments working to optimize their particular process, often at the expense of others. The result is inconsistent data security, definition misunderstandings, and issues with data regulatory compliance.
We Have an Electronic Enterprise
Most of us still believe that we are the people operating our enterprise and that we only use computers to assist us. Perhaps this was true decades previously, but today electronic automation accomplishes the majority of knowledge work. Data flow coordinates all the various business activities. We work at the edges of a central “electronic enterprise”, as John Zachman calls it.
Model-driven management must include the business and technical definition of data, and all data-specific constraints of importance to the enterprise. These constraints should include security classifications and regulatory sensitivity. When missing from the information’s captured metadata, this missing metadata allows a security, regulatory and quality gap. This gap is often hidden until the data is stolen or the business fails to respond quickly to radical marketplace changes and squanders competitive advantage.
Even if the metadata were fully captured, the ability to query data sensitivity or security requirements of a DBMS is often obstructed by obsolete policies, complex technical interfaces, lack of access to the Metadata Repository, and not including a data review step in project plans for deployment. Thus, a non-standard babble of differing data definitions and standards often prevents optimal business intelligence and hampers secure data management.
Just as a single General Ledger gathers the amount of money earned and spent across the enterprise in a uniform fashion, a central Metadata Directory must capture the technical, operational, security, and regulatory definition of every enterprise data element used to conduct operations. This requires dedicated leadership and a trained governance staff using a consistent taxonomy. Data Management is a global leadership imperative.
So, let’s reconsider the previous question: Which box on the Org Chart is in charge of managing all information flow across your entire electronic enterprise?