Digital Disruptions Unglamourous Side Digital Governance

Digital Disruption's Unglamourous Side: Digital Governance

4 minute read
Bassam Zarkout avatar

Most global enterprises look to digital transformation as the only way to remain competitive. They also view it as an opportunity to increase multi-channel customer engagement while reducing IT infrastructure costs.

But some enterprises are slow to adapt to today’s technological evolution. While the idea of flying cars is a ways off, the idea of implementing cloud applications and big data analytics shouldn’t be just as far-fetched. A number of reasons explain why some still live in the offline ages, one of the bigger ones being lack of understanding. Why fix what isn't broke?

Digital transformation isn't only about bringing companies into the second decade of the 21st century, although that’s as good a reason as any. Digital transformation can help businesses better interact and engage with their constituents.

With these opportunities come some challenges. Company data, intellectual property and sensitive information are shared digitally and across various online networks by everyone from customers and clients to staff and senior executives. Corporate data should be looked at as information assets that contribute significantly to the valuation of organizations, but without the proper policies and tools in place, reining in and governing all that data is challenging, if not impossible.

Digital Governance Challenge Accepted

As companies accelerate their digital efforts, information will increasingly be communicated via social media, web content and mobile activities. The emergence of diverse digital tech in the workplace has drastically increased the possibility of breaches, leaks and other consequences as employees turn to online networks to share information with internal and external stakeholders.

Third-party applications like Twitter, Facebook, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Lync, amongst others, present a challenge that executives need to address. While new technology and social media platforms have opened up opportunities to reach and engage employees, customers and clients, it has also become a hotbed for potential risks. These risks can affect everything from the company’s brand and reputation to more complicated legal, financial and security exposures.

This is particularly true for companies who operate in multiple jurisdictions and must comply with multiple laws and regulations in highly-regulated markets. They need to ensure that their corporate information and the unstructured content from web, social and mobile activities are properly governed according to corporate, local and global policies.

Learning Opportunities

Capture and Preserve

Transitioning from legacy communication systems to more diverse digital environments can be challenging. The web and social networks enable communication, make distance irrelevant and information is shared with ease. But there are consequences to this ease of sharing. Different social media uses must be considered in an information governance program. Whether generated from a company account or from a personal account used for business, the content must be treated as corporate information, governed under the same policies.

Capturing and preserving internal enterprise social conversations should also be part of any company’s data management strategy. To ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, data policies and security needs, companies must implement a solution to allow for secure and efficient governance. Presumably, the majority of content generated through these tools is corporate data, and organizations must consider how this information should be governed as well. While information governance won’t protect the data entirely, it will help to ensure that the right people have the right access to the right data at the right time.

Experiencing Déjà Vu?

We’re slowing getting there. We faced similar issues with email about two decades ago (I am carbon dating myself). In the 90s, it was starting to become common for people to use their business email for personal communication. I remember an article that pleaded its readers to “at least spell check their email and use the same proper business etiquette as they do in letters.” It took a while for the email culture to evolve … and we’re still not there yet.

In the past two decades, we have seen major litigations related to the misuse of email: gender discrimination, harassment, libel, etc. -- litigations which many corporations are still reeling from. Take the Sony Pictures hack, for instance. Personal employee data, screenplays and emails were published online, or threatened to be published. This not only led to a public embarrassment of its top executives, one of whom had recently stepped down, but it also fueled a lawsuit against the company. 

We won’t dissect the mess this highly-popularized scandal created here, but it does show that no one and no company is safe. Should this prevent your business from joining the 21st century? No. Should it be heeded as a warning to have the proper policies in place? Absolutely.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Marcin Wichary 

About the author

Bassam Zarkout

Bassam Zarkout is the CTO of RSD, a pioneer in information governance solutions, and has been leading the innovation, vision, creative strategy and architecture of RSD GLASS™, from its initial inception, through its development and now its deployment with major global corporations. Zarkout is a thought leader in the information governance space (conception, design, development and implementation) and is a frequent speaker at key industry events.