Emails, files, word documents, spreadsheets, instant messages, presentations, social media posts, text messages, databases, etc. are burying companies with uncontrolled amounts of information. A majority of this information is accessed once and then left for employees to either take care of or forget about. While most of these files will be used once and then quickly ignored, this excess of unmanaged confidential data exposes companies to information risk.
In the past, businesses relied on individual employees to decide what data should be kept, what data should be deleted, where the data should be stored, and how long it should be kept. A majority of information used in the work is created, stored, and deleted by a single employee. This leads to unknown amounts of unmanaged data being used inefficiently.
Information governance is a framework of policy, procedure, and technology designed to optimize information value and security. It manages risks and costs and coordinates management across departments and disciplines. The lack of proper information governance prevents innovation, business growth, and profit.
Here are the three main pillars of information governance:
Information governing policies offer instruction on how to maximize the value of information within an organization. With an information policy in place, information will be: held securely, obtained fairly, stored safely, used effectively, and disposed of properly. Additionally, information governing policies should be updated on a regular basis to accommodate changes in laws, regulations, and best practices.
This is where the actual implementation of your policies will take place. Information governance procedures tell employees what should happen to the information and how it should happen. Here are a couple of examples:
- “Files containing personal information should be marked properly and moved to the appropriate storage disk as soon as possible.”
- “Files containing contract agreements should be marked properly and moved to the department shared drive.”
In order to ensure procedures are being properly executed, an audit system should be in place.
Businesses are dependent on technology, it provides easy access to necessary information. Marketing is a great example. You have probably noticed an ad or two in your social media feed with an image of an item in your Amazon cart. Marketing's embrace of big data has made an impact we all have felt and it comes from the steady accumulation of more and more data.
As that amount of information grows, technology replaces more manual forms of management and we rely on automated processes to take care of excess information. While technology is a useful tool in the management of information, it requires human attention to ensure information governance will be effective.
Automated categorization of data is one example of how technology can be used to govern information. Keyword categorization will differentiate data based on simple rules. Files from specific departments, like “accounting,” with important keywords, like “final contracts,” can be automatically stored.
Successful organizations are dependent on the creation and consumption of information. However, that information is only useful to the company if employees can successfully find it, use it, and manage it.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the benefits of information governance:
Considering the sizeable amounts of data you will be destroyed through an information governance program, less overall file storage will be needed.
As information governance dictates how the information will be managed to increase efficiency, employees will require less time to search for valuable information. There will be less unnecessary information to sort through in order to find the files that matter. The result is recovered time and increased productivity by employees.
The more information that is destroyed because it is now expired or no longer needed reduces the risk of a data breach by an outside party. Simply put, the less data there is to find its way into the wrong hands, the less risk that will happen.
Successful information governance programs combine documented policy, procedure, and technology. Information governance allows companies to reduce the risk of misusing data, increase productivity among employees, and use less storage.