Agile Governance to Ensure that Reliable Information is Available Anywhere Anytime

A good many companies now have information functions in the Cloud, for a variety of reasons. There is the purposeful selection of cloud services for the usage and management of data, content, records and documents -- in other words, information -- that supplements or replaces systems inside the firewall. There is also the proliferation of data and content -- more information -- created in many cloud-based sites not under the control of companies. But companies want and need all of this Information -- and also need energetic ways to govern all of this information as it flows in and out of the spaces used by enterprises.

Going with the notion that for most enterprises knowledge is power, information-led business innovation and competitiveness is becoming a recognized path for potential success. In parallel, services in the cloud are talked about more and more as enablers of innovation, as an agile, dynamic and cost-effective environment for new business direction and experimentation.

With so much information created anywhere-anytime, information governance has a vital purpose: ensuring the flow of reliable information to the right people at the right time. This can also mean reducing former barriers and changing processes, to make more of this information and data available to more people in the enterprise, sometimes including partners and customers. What should be emphasized is governance that aligns with how information is used in the enterprise, so that governance also connects to business value and corporate strategic goals.

So when we’re talking about innovating information governance, we’re no longer in a vacuum or in a silo, off somewhere in that “information department” -- we’re talking about the entire enterprise of integrated business processes and management infrastructure, running on-premises, in the Cloud and in-between. Everyone in the enterprise has to be on board, from top to bottom, across teams, internally and externally, working in concert to enact effective information governance.

Priming Information Flow: Anywhere, Anytime  

There is no doubt that most companies must extend their information strategies to capitalize on highly relevant information that is continuously created in the cloud. Strong information governance policies and practices must realistically enable the flow of information to continuously bring information to the enterprise -- to improve decision-making, to better understand current and desired customers, improve competitiveness and support all significant goals and strategies in the enterprise. Information governance can be a vital part of the "framework" for business agility, responsiveness to competitive pressures, support for new product and services directions and innovation shepherding.

Enterprises need to break free of old perceptions and implementations of information governance where silos and disconnectedness dominate, and where governance has been viewed as difficult, esoteric and somebody else’s problem. Companies generally have not taken a holistic view of business information governance, its impacts across end-to-end processes or business units, or the technologies to support it. Instead enterprises have treated information as islands within specific system silos, and have taken the same approach to its governance. Information governance overwhelms many -- many get lost in the details.

If information has become essential to corporate success, then information governance must become part of a company’s overall business strategy. An upper management team, comprised of cross-departmental members, has to set the high level "culture" to enable agile information governance: a corporate "infrastructure" of cross-team collaboration, an enterprise-wide commitment to levels of excellence when connecting with and serving customers, recognition that content from social sites matters, the dynamic means to process all potentially useful data and content no matter the source, and the ability to provide on-demand data and analytics ready for any device.

Individual responsibilities for different components of information governance can be segmented to include most groups in the enterprise and to enhance accountability. Services-oriented information governance may be an optimal approach with partnerships across teams to enable governance functions and processes. Legal and financial teams could take key responsibility for risk management and compliance, as well as retention policies and practices. IT teams can take on key responsibilities for security, storage, resource provisioning and user access. It is also now the responsibility of enterprise users of information to understand, partake in and help enforce policies and practices for security, information quality, delegated access, sharing and so on -- these responsibilities are no longer “somebody else’s problem."

Detours For Information Anywhere Anytime

Not surprisingly, persistent issues for information governance and management are mostly the same, whether the repositories are in the cloud, on-premises or in a hybrid flow based on the two:

  • No clear holistic strategy for governance of distributed information sources
  • Prolific growth of information sources and systems
  • Need for extensive integration between information sources, often existing as silos
  • Synchronizations to eliminate redundancies and to update with most current information
  • Unreliable quality of information, content, data
  • Timeliness of information
  • Fragmentation that will block information flow and devalue assets

The creation of content and data in cloud repositories has added complexity to ownership and the chain of custody. Enterprises that strongly manage complex chains of information ownership and usage, both internally and externally, will help corporate goals and achieve advantage from all information assets.
Companies must take on the responsibility of monitoring vendors of cloud services to ensure that the vendor is meeting SLA provisions for security, privacy, backup and so on. This monitoring falls both to business users and IT groups. But companies must also develop comprehensive information governance plans to supplement what cloud service vendors provide. Companies are liable for proper information governance regardless of where the repositories sit. Business users as well as IT teams must understand the implications of “anywhere anytime” information flows.

Cloud Inspires Governance Innovation

Innovation often relates to finding new ideas and/or applying existing ideas in new ways to bring about beneficial change that affects many aspects of what an enterprise does. Innovation is not limited to the products and services in an enterprise, but also can be applied to business model and strategy, operations, employee and partner enablement.

Again, enterprises need to break out of seeing governance only in terms of risk containment and security (which are important) to also see how it can be a means to innovation. Governance is valuable for setting up policies and practices to guide information usage, but it can also provide scope for experimentation and value creation through the orchestrated flow of information to and from many sources. Governance is evolving to handle the challenges of data in the cloud -- extending information governance to cloud sources can also help innovate how governance is done. This is a new challenge for teams across the enterprise to work differently and creatively when governing vital information that must constantly flow, while ensuring that the enterprise meets reliability, compliance and risk requirements. Making accountability a distributed function across the enterprise extends the value of information governance and takes it out of its usual silo.

Timely, reliable information in the right hands is more essential as business cycles shorten and become more competitive and as customer perspective and buy-in become more important. Information created in the cloud along with cloud services comprise a new platform for quickly sharing data and content that matters to the enterprise. “Working the problem” of information governance from the focus of ensuring the open flow of reliable information to be used by many teams in the enterprise anywhere-anytime is a positive move into innovation that will make a difference.

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading: