Information Governance and Its Importance
Every online interaction leaves a trail of data that can be audited. In some cases, this data doesn’t have any value and is only taking up space. However, in other cases, this is highly sensitive data that requires privacy, security, and discovery controls. Knowing the difference between the two types of data and their location is one of the main data-related challenges faced by organizations.
The truth is that today, a substantial amount of data remains ungoverned which makes it difficult to understand what is valuable and what is not. This puts sensitive data at risk and potentially useful data underutilized. But, this can be fixed with an Information Governance plan. Let’s get into what Information Governance is and why it is important.
What Is Information Governance?
Information Governance can be considered as a holistic approach that helps manage information by implementing controls, processes, metrics, and roles. It helps ensure that the information is treated as a valuable business asset in today’s changing marketplace.
The goal of Information Governance is to make the information available when needed, while reducing storage costs, ensuring compliance, and streamlining management. Thanks to this, you will be able to deal with unmanaged as well as inconsistently managed information and reduce the legal risks associated with it.
Leveraging eDiscovery solutions like Casepoint will help you save time and reduce the chance of risky data transfer. It is a cloud-based, secure platform that offers customization and role-based security. Thanks to the technology powered by artificial intelligence, you can process and find important data quickly. This will make it easier for you to handle requests and meet deadlines, such as expediting a data breach response, and overall compliance.
Why Is It Important?
Data overload is one of the biggest challenges we face today. Currently, the total amount of data that is consumed, created, copied, and captured in the world is more than 60 zettabytes. It is expected that by 2025, this figure will reach 175 zettabytes of data. If you have a small business, your data will typically be in the range of a few terabytes. However, if you are a part of a large enterprise, chances are that your data is already on the petabyte scale. In the future, these numbers are expected to only increase.
Regardless of what type of business you are in, you need to maximize value and minimize risk across the vast data sets. The problem is that even if you recognize the value of the data, the sheer volume of it leads to inadequately protected, governed, and utilized digital assets. And if your business is using multiple cloud services, each service will leave a trail of data across different systems and networks.
Benefits of Information Governance
Using a proper Information Governance plan, you will receive the following benefits:
With an effective Information Governance policy in place, you will have rules, regulations, responsibilities, and standards that are geared towards ensuring the safety and security of your data. The expert consulting teams at Casepoint can offer advice on effective IG practices.
Information Governance Policy
Since your data is now supported, classified, and secured by clear policies, you will have an easy and efficient way to access historical and trending data. It will allow management to make data-driven decisions. It also improves employee productivity by making information easy to access and store.
Easy to Access and Store
IG improves the decision-making process by outlining how business users can access information. This reduces bureaucracies and compartmentalization.
Improves the Decision Making Process
Now that you have a clear IG policy, you will become more discerning of the data you store, how long you store it, and the media you store it in, which reduces cost and facilitates collaboration.
Reduces Cost and Facilitates Collaboration
Through eDiscovery, IG reduces the costs of litigation dramatically. It allows easy access to the appropriate information.
Reduces the Costs of Litigation
IG also removes data silos ensuring that you gain value from data at each stage of its lifecycle.
Removes Data Silos
Standards for organizing, categorizing, and accessing information can increase profitability.
Having Information Governance policies that classify data helps you control risks as per the type of data and allows you to access it easily.
Information Governance Policies
Laws & Regulations
As the volume of corporate data increases, so are the regulations putting strict mandates on the processes of Information Governance. Personally identifiable information (PII) is a big target for nefarious online actors and hackers. To ensure the privacy and security of data, countries all over the world are creating new Information Governance obligations for companies, especially ones in highly regulated sectors like financial services and energy. These industries are required to retain electronic communications and records for a certain period of time. This includes mandates from federal agencies such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As per the regulatory reporting requirements, companies also have to provide an account of compliance. Here are some of the laws and regulations associated with Information Governance:
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
This regulatory requirement is imposed on healthcare organizations and compels them to ensure the protection of their patient medical information. This requirement can be addressed through an effective IG policy.
FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act)
This imposes rules on companies to make sure that the records that they keep are authentic. This way, if the companies are called upon to give evidence of information authenticity, they will be able to do the same. Information Governance can help with this.
Challenges of Information Governance
Even if you have a clear vision of your Information Governance policy and strong management support, it doesn’t guarantee success. When it comes to implementation of the Information Governance policy, there are a number of challenges that you might face, including the following:
You need to pay attention while merging and transforming data from different sources and ensuring its integrity. But, if you have big data, managing data of that magnitude is often challenging.
Compliance and Regulatory Issues
You might need Information Governance for a lawsuit or any compliance issue. In this case, the compliance teams have to go through millions of documents to find the information requested for legal purposes. This process is called eDiscovery which can be a nightmare if your company’s information is not readily discoverable. In order to mitigate this challenge, here are a few strategies that you can use:
- Creating a data classification program that uses sensitivity as a factor to rate your information assets.
- Establishing a consistent policy and process for defensible disposal and retention management.
For the right implementation of Information Governance, you need to manage data underlying information assets in multiple domains throughout its lifecycle. As the information becomes centralized, it is common for inconsistencies to creep into the existing processes resulting in friction between different groups. Every group using the common information has to agree on the process of archiving, modifying, and refreshing that information. It is the responsibility of your governance counsel or officer to facilitate this agreement.
Difference Between Information Governance and Data Governance
Many companies consider Information Governance and data governance to be the same thing. Even though there is some overlap between them and both are required to achieve your business objectives, they aren’t the same.
Information Governance is used to obtain business value from data sets. It involves activities and technologies that can help you maximize the value of your information and minimize the associated risks and costs. Data governance framework, on the other hand, refers to the policies that control information at different levels to ensure that the data is reliable and accurate. Both involve procedures for managing the usability, security, integrity, and availability of data.
Casepoint takes additional measures to ensure data security. On a quarterly basis, the internal security team will be performing tests that will mitigate any new vulnerabilities and ensure the safety of the environment. On an annual basis, a third party conducts an annual penetration test to make sure the platform is secure. In order to better understand the difference between the two, here are a few examples of activities that are involved in both areas:
IG is concerned with the lifecycle management of your company’s data. The activities involved in this are eDiscovery, regulatory compliance audits, personal information exchange, data privacy protection, retention schedule, etc.
Data governance includes activities like data operations, management of metadata, data quality, data architecture, data management, etc.
When applied together, these practices can help deliver higher value to your business. Casepoint has created and implemented the Information Security Management Program (ISMP) addressing the best practices around privacy and security. The ISMP includes physical, technical, and administrative safeguards that protect your data from unauthorized access, misuse, loss, destruction, alteration, and disclosure.
Principles of Information Governance
Your employees should be aware of the duties and responsibilities they have regarding Information Governance.
There should be processes in place to confirm the integrity and authenticity of the information.
All the information should be stored in a record-keeping repository or an enterprise-approved system.
All the information should be classified under the right record code.
It is crucial to ensure that no information is unnecessarily proliferated.
Information that has reached the end of its operational and legal usefulness should be disposed of in a secure manner.
All confidential and personally identifiable information should be secured.
Your organization has to comply with all the discovery requests, audits, and subpoenas.
You have to ensure that all of your applications and systems are aligned to the standards of Information Governance.
Information Governance Framework
Scope is what defines the extent of the Information Governance program. It provides an outline of the goals, the data managed by the program, and the employees responsible for achieving these goals.
The corporate procedures and Information Governance policies should be clearly defined in the information technology governance framework. This includes data security, records management, privacy, information sharing policies, and data retention and disposal schedules.
Procedures and Policies
All the essential functions of the Information Governance program should be defined as well, including the responsibilities of specific employees and departments. The role of every person responsible for the integration and implementation of the program should be defined as well.
The framework has to define exactly how your company will manage specific data. A few examples of relevant sections include personal information management, regulatory and legal compliance, how information is stored, archived and shared, and acceptable format types.
External and Internal Data Management
Information Governance Program
All the details pertaining to how your company’s Information Governance program should be shared with any partners, suppliers, and stakeholders. This includes how the information is shared with third parties, how to determine whether the third parties and your partners meet the IG goals, and how the Information Governance affects contractual obligations.
There is no Information Governance program infrastructure that ensures its successful implementation. How your company develops your IG policy will depend on your office culture, advocacy level, state of maturity, current functional orientation, risk profile, and other factors. You have to create your own structure that not only suits your current situation but also helps plan for the future.
That being said, there is one requirement that is critical for the development and sustainability of your Information Governance program – an executive sponsorship. Endorsement from someone like the CIO or CEO will add accountability that trickles down your company. Without it, it is possible that certain elements of your IG program become undervalued or overlooked.
The Information Governance software should be able to adapt to the changes in the regulatory environments and your business operations. This framework is supported by technology, processes, and people. When implemented in the right way, it can help develop a collaborative, compliant, and consistent approach to manage information for its value, cost, and risk to your company. The construction of the Information Governance program differs for every company, but its intent remains the same, which is ensuring operational efficiency, business productivity, and trustworthiness of high-value business information.