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Governance: a mandate for the data-driven enterprise

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Many but not all of LockPath’s customers are in highly regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare, according to Sam Abadir, director of product management at LockPath. “Companies in other industries also realize that having a robust risk management program in place gives them a competitive advantage,” he says. “Some have begun using Keylight because they were contending with software products that were too difficult to use.”

The workflow that supports processes for policy review and approval are built in but can be modified to adapt to each company. “Companies start off with a basic solution,” explains Abadir, “because risk management has many common processes and needs across industries. Some industries, such as banking and healthcare, have specific needs—and those can be easily configured in the Keylight applications.” In addition, Keylight has the ability to analyze metrics that are imported from other applications or scored within Keylight, to assess risk appetite and risk level.

Governance captures CIO attention

While governance has not traditionally been a glamorous topic, its importance is beginning to register at the C-level to a greater degree than previously. “Out of 150 attendees at a recent session of IT Expo in Australia, 40 were CIOs of major corporations,” says Rex Ahlstrom, chief strategy and technology officer at BackOffice Associates. “They are looking for something above the application level that can manage both data and processes, because systems will change over time but governance needs to be continuous.”

One Australian government agency at the conference, for example, wanted to aggregate healthcare data across many regions, which required consistent treatment of data despite the fact that multiple systems were involved. A large Chinese manufacturing conglomerate that made everything from medical devices to clothing has a varied IT landscape and could not measure or control it. “They all had the same problem,” says Ahlstrom. “IT does not have the bandwidth and needs to automate data-driven processes.”

Governance has two main components; one is to set business policies and the other is to enforce them. Those policies pertain to data privacy or standards that the organization is directed to run by, which are impacted by data, as well as policies for data quality or operations. In order to have a smooth-running governance process, policy setting and enforcement initiatives should be integrated with policies leading to certain actions, which can be difficult in a complex business environment.

“The trick is to figure out how to manage the execution of standards within a very heterogeneous environment, and that’s all about stewardship and enforcement of policy,” says Ahlstrom. “Setting and enforcing policies needs to span the entire lifecycle of data. This is coming into sharp focus during the move to digital transformation. Without this transformation, companies cannot react quickly enough, which puts them under pressure by consumers and is causing them to reinvent how their systems are managed.”

Who are the business users?

BackOffice Associates introduced Information Governance Cloud (IGC), which supports the design, analysis and institutionalization of enterprisewide data policies. It is integrated with the Data Stewardship Platform (DSP), which executes and enforces those policies in data applications throughout the company. “Many products can assist with policy management but the ability to automate processes between design and execution is rare,” Ahlstrom says.

One BackOffice Associates customer, a large grocery retailer that had acquired a major drug store chain, was struggling to manage a large range of products that included produce, seasonal items and numerous other items. There were many applications, including business suites from both SAP and Oracle, and a lot of overlap in SKUs between the two stores. “The company had to figure out who were the business owners of the merchandise—it was not a traditional integration because the business users for new categories needed to be identified and decisions made about which SKUs to be maintained,” Ahlstrom says. “There is no way for IT to make these decisions.”

For that retailer, BackOffice solutions were used both to set and enforce the policies of the product data and how that data would come together in the post-merger environment. The policies included a transformation of the business to align its data to drive transformation in areas of customer loyalty, reporting and financial analysis. The solution automated the capture, visualization and impact of data enforcement decisions on data and the organization and workflows of those decisions to the right people at the right time, so that the right decisions could be made. By engaging all types of users and fostering collaboration in both the setting and enforcement of policy, the BackOffice information governance solutions enabled business improvements for the customer.

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