By Rex Ahlstrom, BackOffice Associates
Enterprise data is no longer restricted to transaction-based and other legacy systems. Companies have broadened their data sources and sharing platforms to include mobile, cloud and social channels.
Many companies are embracing the "bring your own device" (BYOD) philosophy and enabling a broader range of devices in the workplace. And they are looking to reduce management and IT risks by moving apps and entire infrastructures into cloud environments and utilizing cloud-based software services. On the social side managers are becoming more open to collaboration, including opening information repositories to include data gathered from non-traditional sources and expanding their communications channels.
How can these new environments be leveraged to de-risk and accelerate information governance strategies and projects without creating chaos? The solution lies in effective content collection and information sharing.
Bridge IT and Business with Collaboration
A perennial challenge among enterprises is utilizing IT for data-driven initiatives in a way that meets business users’ needs. Many data governance and data quality-focused tools in the market tend to be focused on the IT user rather than business user. However, when considering who truly understands the data, its purpose and relationships -- not just the structure of data in a particular IT system -- business users are ultimately defining the way purchasing, customer, supply chain and other types of data link together to drive a business forward and meet customer demands in a profitable way.
Therefore, IT and business stakeholders must work together to establish proper business processes that drive meaningful data-driven initiatives such as data migration, data quality and data governance. Introducing a collaborative social environment into data initiatives with the ability to work and contribute across departments from any location via the cloud and mobile devices helps organizations bridge the IT/business user gap and streamlines both departments’ data interactions and priorities.
Make Sharing Information Universal
Another issue that often crops up for data and IT professionals is the assumption that everyone needs to use the same tools and apps across the enterprise. This rigid approach works against the idea of inclusivity for information gathering and sharing for the benefit of the entire organization, as each department often needs to use different tools based on their preferences and comfort level.
For example, various business units may use different ETL tools based on local team experience and skill. Users may input data into a system such as SAP through traditional user interfaces, while others may be more comfortable working with Excel. To comprehensively engage business and IT users to become effective data contributors, managers must tap into the connections and information that can be gained between members of the organization, regardless of how they choose to gather or work with data. By offering new ways to share information via mobile, cloud and social means -- as well as standardizing data elements so they are applicable across the organization -- executive leaders can enable people to become data contributors, no matter which data tools or apps they use.
Create Reusable Data and Content
For data governance content to be powerful, it needs to be reusable. This means identifying and evaluating content that has proven to be helpful to others performing similar projects or functions in the organization and confirming it meets industry standards, benchmarks, etc.
Managers should determine organization-specific criteria for reusable content and integrate it into the project management and control functions of the organization. Capturing specific analytics, process methodologies, best practices, project staffing plans and other helpful guidance is the first step to leveraging thought leaders’ expertise and sharing it across the organization for optimized, consistent results. When coupled with cloud, mobile and social access, developing and sharing reusable content throughout an organization ensures widespread visibility into which content is effective at solving specific data challenges across departments, business units and regions.
Intersect Behind-Firewall Data Apps with the Cloud
Many traditional enterprise apps such as a finance system typically sit behind an organization’s firewall to protect valuable internal information and prevent sensitive and/or proprietary data from going outside the firewall. However, an organization may also use Salesforce.com for CRM or SAP SuccessFactors for human capital management (HCM) in the cloud, which are also available via mobile apps. With the right business processes and security permissions in place, business and IT users can utilize cloud app options to securely access and contribute to elements within their on-premise solutions. This approach enables organizations to expand productivity and introduce more flexibility into their data collection processes.
As organizations seek to leverage one of their most valuable assets, data, they are also grappling with the expanding volume, velocity and variety of information driven by mobile, social and cloud platforms. However, with the right strategies and tools in place, they can gain competitive advantage by effectively tapping into the power of this new information and extending the value of their content across the organization.
Whether optimizing business processes or sharing relevant analytics or best practices that can benefit multiple functions within an enterprise, managers should leverage their organizations’ ever-broadening flow of information to improve visibility across all data migration, data quality and information governance initiatives.
Rex Ahlstrom is chief strategy officer at BackOffice Associates, a worldwide leader in information governance and data migration solutions, focusing on helping customers manage one of their most critical assets – data.