“It’s all about the data.”
This phrase is as true today as it was when I first heard it as a recent college graduate. Despite all the new technologies introduced since then (and there have been many), the success or failure of our IT efforts often comes back to the quality of the underlying data.
We create more data today than ever before. Most organizations struggle with gaining visibility and insight into their data, specifically unstructured data. This type of data — including emails, documents and image files — expose organizations to increased risk, security vulnerabilities, and personally identifiable information (PII) leaks. This problem is intensifying. Our data grows at a rate of 49 percent year-over-year.
Once all of this data is created, you need to govern it. Equally important, the data must be protected and kept secure. These activities are why it’s possible for data to be available when needed. The lack of attention to these details delays projects and drives up the cost of IT.
Unfortunately, we rarely have good insight into our data. Most of the data in our organizations is “dark data”, meaning that we store it, but don’t know what it is. Sometimes we know what the data is, but it redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) data. Studies show that organizations operate on only about 15 percent of the data they store. The storage and maintenance of non-essential data is a huge drag on budgets. It drives up operational costs, limiting our modernization efforts. Further, agency leaders routinely express concerns about data retention schedules and compliance risks.
There are no simple solutions to our data problems. However, a good starting point is development of an Enterprise Data Governance strategy. Enterprise Data Governance is a key part of the President’s Management Agenda. It’s discipline crosses multiple functional boundaries, including information technology, cybersecurity, records management, privacy, general counsel, human resources, and more. In short, Enterprise Data Governance is a team sport.
Technologies that support data classification are an important enabler of Enterprise Data Governance. However, there are several actions that I believe are more important to success. Based on my real-world, customer experiences across government and industry, I offer the following data governance best practices.
An organization that doesn’t manage its data is limited in its ability to do real digital transformation. I view Enterprise Data Governance, as described in the PMA, as our nation’s real first step to the digital government we deserve. Let’s get going!
This content was originally published by GovLoop on August 13th, 2018, and the original article can be found here via govloop.com.
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