Blackboard’s Timothy Harfield defines a data governance crisis as the moment when individuals, working independently or on behalf of the organization, make use of its private data in ways that were not intended and should have been prevented, but at the time, existing policies did not explicitly forbid use nor access to the data, nor can they always be considered illegal.
An episode like that can be nerve-racking and its effect can be localized or large and long-lasting. However, Harfield argues that these events are an opportunity to diagnose an organization’s data governance issues. Of course, the best-case scenario is to anticipate a crisis and perform a comprehensive check of the elements involved in protecting company information:
- First, the people. This is not limited to high-skill IT and security staff making sure modern policies are in place and enforced. Across the organization, people should be aware of how to properly manage and share data and should be able to distinguish their sensitivity.
- Policies and practices come next. As usual, the best way these kind of rules do not stay on handbooks is by avoiding top-down approaches, instead building procedures along with the community. After all, the best data governance policies are not only straightforward, but representative of company culture.
- Last but not least is technology. Clearly laid out repositories and warehouses, designed through modular blocks and compatible with external or interoperability standards, will make it easier for people to use them appropriately and to facilitate compliance and audit.
As the digital economy permeates every industry, organization, and practice, organizations find it increasingly critical to build institution-wide policies, practices, and teams to prevent abuse of data, a particularly perilous event in organizations who store and manage private information about people.
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