In the Information Governance Community we spend a lot of time talking about Maturity, Models, Governance, and Quality. But today I want to talk to you about Business Outcomes and the real integration of people, process, and supporting technology.
In the last year, I’ve traveled over 200,000 miles and met with hundreds of clients interested in building effective Information Governance programs. All of these clients are trying to achieve Five Business Outcomes as the goals of the programs
Semantic Consistency: Organizations are struggling with confusion and mis-understanding their own information, which we call semantic inconsistency, and the cross-organizational dysfunction that both causes it and results from it. It’s a vicious cycle that prevents organizations from understanding each other and what their own information means.
Data Quality Reporting: They struggle with Data Quality in every department and division and lack the ability to map and monitor it to identify the issues before they become crises.
Single View of the Truth: Truth is ephemeral, I know. But clients have so many views and versions of the same information it isn’t possible to agree on even the most basic definitions. They lack a single view of both Truth and falsehood to supply the right information to run the business.
Trusted Information: And with the huge volumes of data being transacted daily, created as much by customers as organizations themselves, it is incredibly difficult to know what is happening, where information is, and how to discover and use it at the right time. Data can so often be hidden or even lost just when its need is most urgent.
Security Threats & Privacy: Even inconsistent, low quality data in many views that isn’t instantly available is still under constant threat, so our customers want to make sure all their information is Secure and Protected throughout the organization.
These are simple requirements that every organization should be able to provide. After all, worldwide we spend over $2 trillion on IT investments each year.
As my kids often ask on long roadtrips, “Are we there yet?” Unfortunately, we’re not even close. These challenges continue to get in the way making it very hard to achieve our goals. But the reason they are hard is that we haven’t organized our people, processes, or technology to succeed on a sustainable basis.
We continually add constraints to our environment by fixing short-term projects instead of long-term programs. And the old processes just don’t keep up when we are creating petabytes of data every month. This mountain of information is crushing our old Data Management methods and that can seriously impact the performance of production systems if not properly managed.
Our focus has been on buying or building applications. We work in silos and build silos into our databases. We have so many versions of the same data, we don’t know what to trust. Our Security & Privacy approach is the same – we protect systems and control access to applications, but it’s our data that holds the real value, and it is often unprotected. And you know IT budgets are shrinking, but expectations to do more with less constantly keep growing. Clearly we need to change.
To achieve these outcomes and goals and overcome these very common challenges, our clients are implementing Information Governance programs. This isn’t a small development or an incremental project. This is a global movement with new roles, process-oriented programs, and solutions seeking sustainable results. Information Governance can help you achieve: Better information understanding to gain semantic consistency across the enterprise; Higher Quality Reporting and Analytics to promote organizational effectiveness; A trust in the information you have through a Single View of the Truth; So you can make smarter, faster decisions; While meeting compliance mandates and providing information that is Secure and Protected throughout its lifecycle to reduce risk.
IBM can help you build an effective and sustainable Information Governance program. We are the leader in this market and we bring our experience to help you understand what works. We’ve done workshops all over the world and we have proven methods and solutions.
Let’s walk through some simple steps that you can start with today:
People: Whether you have a top-down mandate for change or are building a program grass roots – you need Data Architects and Stewards to succeed. Data Governance is a compliance program. Architects set policies, standards, and guidelines, and Stewards measure compliance. Architects envision the world as it should be, and Stewards measure it as it is. Each is co-dependent and vital to each other. And neither can succeed without technology organizing their efforts and reporting their milestones.
Architects should be measured on how well they sell their visions to the organization through adoption rates that Stewards verify via compliance checking. Stewards should be measured on the value they add to business units through fixing the policy gaps they uncover. Both roles need three defined processes to implement policy and verify compliance:
1. Assessment: New business products, applications, mergers or acquisitions will impact semantic consistency, data quality, views of the truth, trusted information, and security & privacy. You need a standardized assessment to evaluate the risks posed to data by these changes. The IBM Information Governance Maturity Model is a great tool for this purpose.
2. Investigation: You also have to monitor smaller changes in database design, table structure, content and context. This is like an early-warning radar system that monitors your data infrastructure. With it, your stewards can detect new risks before they become exposures. Without it, you are flying blind and you already know what that looks like…
3. Gleaning: Audit is your best friend. They won’t find everything on their own. But after assessments and investigations, they will find hard to see issues. Use them to glean the fields and pickup the kernels your machines miss.
None of this is possible without Technology Solutions from IBM. Architects and Stewards need solution support to be effective on a sustainable basis. You already know that semantic consistency, data quality, single views of the truth,and trusted information that is secure and protected are difficult to achieve on their own. But here’s how IBM can help you pull your people and processes together with best of breed solutions that make Information Governance work:
Semantic Consistency: We all know how hard it is to get human beings to agree on common definitions, and our data systems are just as confused. But Information Governance can make a difference. Here is an example of how it works:
Data Architects can use IBM Metadata Workbench to discover and classify data elements and attributes. Metadata is basically the data about the data you have. It’s about who owns it, where it lives, where it came from, where it’s used and what it means.
The Data Stewards work with business units and IBM Business Glossary to define glossary terms for common definitions, product codes, customer codes, logistical elements, and even linguistic synonyms. This is by no means an easy process, and it requires consultation and patience to get terms defined and change the definitions over time as usages change.
But once defined, Data Architects and Stewards can work together to link business terms in the Glossary to metadata and the organization can reap the enormous benefits of semantic consistency – Data Search by business terms; Faster reconciliation and reporting of financial results; Reduced error rates in data entry; Efficient coding in Software Development.
Data Quality: Unfortunately, a byproduct of more information is more lower quality. The ratios can remain the same, but with higher volumes and increasing redundancy, you have a wider proliferation of information that is out of date, unreferenced, error-prone, or just unverified.
The widespread use of metadata and Business Glossary to achieve Sematnic Consistency will help alleviate Data Quality problems in the future by reducing data processing errors introduced by the use of outdated product and customer codes and similar issues.
To fix current challenges, Data Architects need to first document the sources and varieties of data quality errors and omissions made in the past processes to create new standards and policies. Compliance testing is the feedback loop for policy-making.
For example, Data Stewards, working with IBM Information Discovery and Analyzer can pull data out of production and perform trend analysis to identify data quality problems that require remediation. Working together, creating policies and checking compliance, Data Architects and Stewards can improve data quality over time and help their organizations improve business results, cut costs, and reduce operational inefficiency. And Metadata, Glossaries, Discovery, and Analysis can be brought together in a new tool called IBM BluePrint Director which links data assets to definitions and data flows. Its an Architects tool to define how the world should be and your Information Governance program is incomplete without this capability.
Single View of the Truth:Most organizations are product oriented. An organization with 50 products might have 50 customer databases with more than 50 instances of the same customer data, and rarely will even two instances match. Increasingly, organizations are implementing IBM Master Data Management as the hub of their Information Governance program to create one master record of “Customer,” “Product,” “Contract,” etc – to become Data-Centric.
MDM is a dynamic solution and it takes Information Governance to maintain its integrity as your organization changes and grows. Each new application and data repository will need to be related to the MDM master in order to maintain operational consistency. The best way to accomplish this is to organize your Data Stewards by MDM Data Model types.
Data Architects should create policies that requrie every new application and database to use the MDM hub, and a standardized assessment process that looks at new applications and evaluates how to apply MDM. IBM Information Discovery and Information Analyzer can again be used to detect changes in database infrastructure that indicate instances where MDM is not being used.
Altogether, by using MDM with your Information Governance program you can realize a 30% improvement in productivity for the Sales organization, consolidate and reduce IT costs by replacing existing infrastructure, and reduce the over-production of your product catalog and saved millions of dollars.
Trusted Information: Your data is an asset to your organization, and like any other asset can lose it’s value if not properly maintained across its lifecycle – becoming a liability. When you retain information you don’t need, you degrade application performance, impact operational efficiency, and leave yourself open to litigation through eDiscovery. Archiving plays a key part in this area. As historical data ages, archiving allows you to save money, increase application performance, and even help your people make smarter decisions. Data must be retained for compliance, but it doesn’t have to bog down your production systems. It’s possible to archive it in a way that allows you to access it even without the application. Even with archiving in place, you may still have volumes of data so being able to analyze performance, identify bottlenecks and keep data optimized will help lower operations costs – and enable organizations to meet their SLAs.
Data Architects can use IBM Smart Archiving to create information archiving policies that take inactive structured and unstructured data out of front tier storage, classifies it with common metadata and Business Glossary definitions, and sets retention rules that help you meet business and regulatory requirements. Architects and DBAa can use the Tivoli Omegamon XE products for DB2 for z.OS and IMS – and Option Query Workload Tuner to provide deep performance insight and resolution – across the infrastructure so that systems and applications can be kept in an optimized state.
Data Stewards can work with business owners to document retention requirements and constantly verify that archives are meeting internal compliance mandates.
Working together with your MDM Hub, IBM Smart Archiving can preserve business objects intact and make eDiscovery a seamless process of intelligent search via business terms – providing Trusted Information to the business and minimizing the risks of unnecessary retention.
Security and Protected: Finally, like most organizations, you probably have a lot of data you send abroad for application testing, provide to 3rd parties for additional processing, or even provide to directly to customers over the Internet. Every time data is shared with others, you face the risk of cyber-crime or inadvertent disclosure. Information today can’t be trusted if it isn’t verified.
Data Architects will need to work with organizations you share data with to design mutually enforceable security policies governing data in use, at rest or in motion. Data that is off-shored for application testing will have to use IBM Optim Data Privacy and Test Data Management to de-identify and transform sensitive information prior to testing. Masking data is one aspect of privacy – organizations must also consider encryption of data while in use, motion or at rest so that it can only be read by authorized users. IBM Guardium technology provides audit of information across different data sources and platforms, enforces separation of duties (auditor v super user) and enables organizations to be proactive rather than reactive through real time alerting – without the performance overhead of database logging.
Data Stewards and auditors will have to inspect the audit reports to make sure data usage is compliant with policy and work with internal legal counsel and external auditors on spot audits and other forms of non-intrusive verification.
Your data is an asset. Once lost, the liability can be immeasurable. Without proper information protection solutions from IBM, your Information Governance Program could be at risk.
Don’t take that chance!
We have explored five information governance use cases and the descriptions of the problems and solutions were all too brief. But this is just an introduction to the key issues you need to understand to make your Information Governance succeed:
Higher quality Data
Single View of the Truth
Protect and Secure Privacy
In each of these areas, IBM has developed Information Governance Blueprints that can help you organize your people, processes, and technology to develop Information Governance programs that provide sustainable results. We have a library of in-depth briefings designed for each of these goals, with detailed use cases and implementation examples. IBM also helps you build strong business cases for these capabilities using a library of ROI calculators, Business Value, Data Quality and Vulnerability assessments – and teams of specialists around the world ready to help you implement them.
Yes, this article has the form of an advertisement for IBM solutions. But you know what, I think its time for that. Companies are just not going to succeed without technology supporting people and process and the other vendors are not showing how their solutions fit in a simple Information Governance structure that anyone can emulate. This is a start. I wanted to discuss the Business Outcome Maps the Council Created in September 2010, but go beyond the Maturity Model.
Let me know what you think. Comments and Feedback are welcome.