Chris Cingrani (US) - Information Governance: Focusing on the 99%

The second post in this three-part series on the global issue of Big Data focuses on the US. Read it now and discover tactics for improving information governance.

This is the second in a three-part series on the global issue of ‘Big Data’ authored by Capgemini, which will be published every Wednesday until 25th January. Part one looked at Europe. Here, we look at the US.

In September 2011, the Occupy Wall Street and other ‘Occupy’ movements began to take shape and capture significant media attention. One of the core slogans of the Occupy movements was the phrase: “We are the 99%”.  In thinking about this slogan from an information governance standpoint, there is a direct correlation within the business community between the goals and objectives of the 99% that want to ensure a strategic organizational focus on information quality and the other 1% that isn’t interested in formalizing the people, processes and technology that are required to make this happen.

Information is the lifeblood of an organization. Decisions are made by executives on a daily basis based on the data available within the organization. Although this isn’t a new idea, the concepts of information (or data) governance, data quality and the need to trust the data that these decisions are based upon can often result in significant conflict in an organization. The point of conflict often results from different business departments using and manipulating data within their silo (or department) regardless of what may be best at an enterprise level. However, the quality and purity of data is essential to an organization’s decision making processes.

So what does this all mean and how does it relate to focusing on the needs of the 99%? To start, organizations considering launching an information governance initiative need to find the key stakeholders that are willing to embrace information governance and data quality. Although many articles, books and blogs focus on the need for executive sponsorship as a key success factor for an information governance initiative, my experience in working with organizations, whether they are global in size or much smaller, is that you need to build momentum within the “middle” of the organization. Although you still need executive support to ensure that any information governance initiative is adopted throughout the enterprise, it is the tactical or project based approach that often allows information governance to be realized within the organization.

Here are some of the key aspects to consider when embracing the 99% that are looking for a successful information governance strategy:

1. Mobilize your base – finding the people in the organization that are passionate about data is a key starting point. In comparison to the Occupy Wall Street movement, these are the people that will be rallying on behalf of the need for data standards within the organization. When looking to pilot information governance or data quality initiatives, this will be the base of people to start with.

2. Develop and distribute data quality scorecards – in order to quantify the need for data policies and standards, the types of data issues being faced within the organization must be clearly articulated.  When working with organizations, I often recommend leveraging a data quality profiling tool as it allows the IT department to engage with the business to identify data issues and begin the process of developing a strategy to resolve the issues. At the same time, these data quality scorecards (or dashboards) should be disseminated throughout the organization to raise visibility to the types of issues being faced. One organization I worked with even made this a contest to see which department had the “best” data. This served two purposes – better data available across the organization while also having a little healthy competition.

3. Start at the project level – although information governance should ultimately be implemented across the enterprise, the most successful approaches to a sustained governance initiative start at the project level.  Finding a department within the organization that has a need and an interest to implement policies, standards and technology and getting that first “win” is a way to drive visibility and momentum throughout the organization. Similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement – what started in New York (project level) has now spread to cities across the globe (the enterprise).

Much like the Occupy Wall Street movement, the success or failure of information governance will occur in the trenches. Your ability to mobilize your base of supporters while also aligning and engaging the business and IT teams will ultimately determine the final outcome

By Chris Cingrani, Senior Manager for Business Information Management and SAP Enterprise Information Management in North America, Capgemini