In today’s information-driven world, data is at the heart of enabling businesses to operate and innovate effectively. However, the exponential growth of data, combined with increasing regulation, has left many organisations struggling with the complexity of compliance required to manage their information.

To compound the challenge, legislation is constantly evolving. Organisations cannot afford to address each legal requirement separately. Instead, a holistic approach to information governance is needed – one that can adapt to an increasingly regulatory environment yet is seamless and transparent across an operation’s business systems.

It is no wonder many enterprises are looking to get ahead of the compliance curve. But where to begin?

Hitachi Data Systems defines information governance as a comprehensive programme of controls, processes and technologies designed to help organisations maximise the value of their data while minimising associated risks and costs. Any organisation looking to ensure compliance in the face of mounting regulatory requirements firstly needs to assess its information governance maturity and put policies in place to ensure its data supports the agreed framework.

Addressing information governance, however, can be a significant undertaking. Organisations need a clear understanding of the types of data they own – from structured to unstructured – and how this information is collected, stored, used and managed – for the long term. This must be done in tandem with a content audit to identify where the information assets are, who uses them, whether they have regulatory significance and how they are currently protected.

Multinational organisations are likely to find this considerably complex given assessment must take place across all jurisdictions in which they operate and take into consideration the varying regulatory requirements across markets.
In addition, a thorough review of information governance must investigate roles and responsibilities regarding the creation and management of data within the organisation. Current regulatory compliance across the business must also be assessed to identify weaknesses and strengths.

Stakeholders will then need to consider governance requirements, which data assets need to be classified, how data will be protected, and how costs will be managed.

Having a clear understanding of their requirements at a regulatory, business and corporate asset level will enable organisations to better understand how best practice can be applied, where they could take advantage of established processes and policy definitions to support their requirements, and how they can manage future costs effectively.

Once an enterprise has evaluated its maturity in these areas, the next step is to develop a robust policy framework that addresses all legal and regulatory requirements, industry standards as well as company policy. In essence, this ensures the digital house is in order, to mitigate risk from initial creation of electronically stored information through to its final disposal. This framework is then the basis for all lifecycle workflow within the organisation.

Finally, an organisation should deploy and enforce the policies across all data the company holds, manages and interacts with. This incorporates applying information governance policies to assigned content using automated tools and migrating data from current to new systems.

The volume and complexity of enterprise data is growing exponentially. Compliance with regulatory frameworks is a critical concern for organisations, especially as risks and potential fines are increasing dramatically.

The negative impact on reputation, should your business fail, can also be irrevocably damaging. Getting ahead of the compliance and governance curve is therefore critical and if effective information governance practices are implemented, compliance becomes less complex and costly.