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Why Information Governance is a C-Level Discussion

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The liability and exposure companies face for not understanding the content they have and how to secure this information within their systems is significant. No executive of any company wants to be a front page article or in the evening news for failing to protect it.  While many understand that there is value to be had in data they struggle with tapping into it because they lack effective ways for dealing with the size and scope of the challenge. Imagine the potential process and service productivity gains, and security benefits if a company’s full set of information could be understood and managed in a fashion that not only drives business decisions and improved customer service, but also enforces proper retention and data security policies against that content.

This is where information governance, a set of multi-disciplinary structures, processes, procedures, policies and controls for managing information, comes in. While it may seem to be a task for IT to tackle, doing so and not involving executive leadership can lead to much of the value and potential benefits being left on the table. In fact, when information governance processes, policies and procedures are discussed at the C-level the business can experience tremendous operational and environmental benefits, as well as simplify legal/regulatory efforts. This makes information governance something the C-suite can’t lose sight of or ignore.  Senior executives are tasked with growing revenues, improving operational effectiveness and controlling costs.  Context contained within content residing within enterprise data warehouses and repositories can help businesses understand their customers better, sell new solutions to existing customers, and apply security and retention models to content that has either legislative controls or civil penalties if it is not managed correctly. 

With the macro view that the C-suite can provide and technology to automate many of the processes and policies, as well as data collection, businesses can see benefits in four key areas:

  • Reduce Risk

You cannot manage what you don’t know.  Content and customer provided data that is not properly understood exposes enterprises to costly legal and public relations issues, and affects a company’s profitability.  Having systems and process in place that understand incoming content, tag it appropriately, and store it according to defined processes and procedures greatly reduces the corporation’s risk of being a headline in the evening news. 

  • Control costs and innovate based on data:

Lowering costs by driving greater efficiencies is at the top of every business’ list. Organizations can make some gains by looking at each piece of the business individually, however the C-suite’s macro view can lead to wholesale changes in cost structures and processes by identifying efficiencies that can span business functions and departments. When information governance policies are put in place by the C-level team and combined with information analytics technology or automated processes enabled by content capture and other technologies, companies are able to receive insight into both micro and macro operational trends simultaneously. This two-pronged view can give C-level executives a clear view into the operational interdependencies and potential areas for greater efficiency and streamlined approaches.

  • Tracking progress towards company goals:

In many cases the C-suite or other executives will outline goals or priorities for the year and individual department plans are then developed to drive towards achieving them. What happens next? Is the data showing an alignment with goals or did things go off track? Unless unhappy customers are highlighting shortfalls or processes go severely out of whack, you may never know the answer until you decide to dig deeper. This is where a clear definition of company goals and technology reporting back key indicators automatically can provide the necessary insight and enable the C-suite to course correct based on the changing landscape and evolving priorities.

  • Better customer service and satisfaction:

Customers provide plenty of personal data to enterprises every day in the form of documents, application forms, web forms, and general correspondence.  Enterprises that have the ability to fully understand this information and leverage it for revenue generating opportunities have competitive advantage.  More importantly, customer engagement and customer service is dramatically improved since automated systems can properly understand the information submitted by the user accelerating their transaction and providing more visibility to the process directly to the user. 

When viewed holistically, something the C-suite is particularly suited to do, the processes, procedures and policies that constitute information governance can unveil a variety of revenue generating opportunities, process efficiencies resulting in better customer engagement, and cost-reductions. When C-level oversight and decision making is combined with technology businesses can effectively monitor progress and adjust on the fly, enabling constant improvement and ensuring that company priorities are being driven to fruition. Information governance isn’t something C-Level executives should turn their back to or be scared of. Rather, they should embrace it as their core responsibility so they can drive their company to new heights.

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