What the Cloud and Information Governance Mean for You

September 9, 2016 James Maniscalco

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Since you are probably reading this on a smart phone with app services that aggregate your preferences for news, business and sports information, you are likely aware that we live in a cloud-first environment. This continuously connected cloud world will forever dictate and shape how we interact with one another and go about our lives. For some of us not born as digital natives but as analog ancestors, this wasn’t always the case, and now more than ever, we are seeing the impact that cloud is having on our data. Most people who hear the word “cloud” think, “I know the cloud – Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc”. No question that those companies dominate the cloud, but when we consider the full scope of the cloud at BackOffice, we think of all the data that drives the cloud. We consider that the Internet of Things and digital transformation are among us and know what it means for you.

So what has the cloud brought to us today? We exist in an era of the API where everything can be interfaced and integrated, and data between systems and applications can expand geometrically. The content and context of how we use that data, and how it drives systems, has really unearthed the need for a new form of information governance in the cloud. 

Information Governance Now

Information governance has been a specialized niche play up until this point. Although organizations were sharing data in and outside their walls, only certain quality and governance processes were managed as part of a historical legacy system that was likely cobbled together manually. This inevitably leads to accuracy and relevancy issues when trying to collaborate across departments, from legal to finance.

The cloud has driven the need for more holistic, formal information governance across an enterprise. It has taken it out of a specialized corner cube within the organization to one that people will consider core and critical. Organizations typically have an informal understanding of information governance and do comprehend the governance issues, but often haven’t reached the maturity of codifying it or implementing it as part of a commercial grade software project. A majority of these issues that need to be instantiated in code revolve around the necessity to define and enforce policies, but this needs to be done in a non-static environment in order to be successful. In addition, information governance has to be dynamic and rapidly changing.  

Three Principals of Focus

All organizations have their own technique of running information governance and have their own homegrown way of setting and enforcing policies, but these policies change, and they change frequently. The problem with this homegrown and static approach is that with information moving so fast and systems changing so often, it becomes even more important that you set and enforce policies that are understood across the entire organization.

There are three bedrock principals that you should focus on to truly get the most out of the progressing relationship of cloud and information governance.

  1. Set and Enforce Policies – Stated previously, setting and enforcing policies is being brought to new light with the cloud and information governance. Imagine yourself as a manufacturing company and in the US, everything needs to be shipped by truck, but in other countries there are different methods of shipment, such as rail. Across systems this may become confusing, but there must be a way to propagate policies like these across the organization for all to understand.
  2. Glossary Terms – Let’s go back to our shipping example. Think about the word shipment. It is a term that can mean all sorts of things in an organization. Maybe delivery in your system and shipment are the same. These terms must be defined and understood throughout the organization.
  3. Processes – Focus on your business processes because this will have the greatest impact on the how, when, what, why and where of your information governance.

To do all of this, you’ll want a group of people to review policies, and you need a collaborative cloud environment to help with the change.

It comes down to the externalization of the logic. Rather than embed the logic in an application, do it in a business process and workflow, where you can break down the sequences and steps across your governance and business objects. This will help you have “one single view of the truth” to all your related documents and rules, and allow you to manipulate them according to the business’ needs. After all, we live in a demanding business world, and the cloud and information governance will allow you to supply that demand.

 

About the Author

BackOffice Associates Strategic Advisor

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