As the mountains of data grow, so does the variety of strategies CIOs are marshalling to manage that information, and profit from it.
Life on the Edge
Possibly the most significant catalyst for of the information governance movement is that CEOs, and other top executives, are living much more dangerously than ever before. If their companies lack satisfactory data management policies, and fraud or a breach of security occurs, they could be held responsible and face prosecution. Even if it doesn't go that far, their companies could pay a hefty fine and suffer considerable damage to their reputations.
Faced with these unsatisfactory possibilities, chief executives, perhaps grudgingly, are increasingly including CIOs in tactical discussions, in hopes that technology decisions will more closely mirror the company's business goals, policies and values. Usually, such efforts are not intended to improve profits or increase revenue; rather, they are an attempt to enhance the value of information as a corporate asset and avoid compliance irregularities. Consequently, CIOs at companies that favor information governance programs are generally among the most influential. "I attend all of the sales meetings; there are no planning or decision-making meetings without me in there," says Sunrise Medical's Kirkpatrick. "The business managers need to know the systems impact of their ideas. Governance is a powerful catalyst."
But information governance is not always the ticket to the executive washroom for CIOs—and if they don't get that privilege, it could be their own fault. In some cases, company technologists have failed to impress executives with a deep understanding of the critical issues of compliance and information strategy that would propel them to a decision-making role at the company. As a result, a chief governance officer may be hired to oversee IT, finance and legal issues as they relate to corporate performance and risk. That is precisely what happened at Eastman Kodak Co., in 2003, when Laurence Hickey, an inside counsel, was named CGO, bypassing executives from the company's large technology wing.
No matter who leads the efforts, information governance programs are, by most accounts, quietly transforming the data efficiency and reliability of organizations. It's likely that measurable results will be seen soon. In fact, some experts are comparing the potential beneficial impact of information governance to what occurred during the Y2K bonanza.
"Y2K was a big drive to tune up software and make it sustainable. Once that project started, applications improvement was inevitable," says Project In-Vision's Shotz. "Information governance is the next generation of Y2K. It will produce tremendous economic and performance gains in the next two years."