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Cloud Computing: How To Prepare Your Company For Ambient Data Governance

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If you’re involved in technology, one of the big things we hear about these days is “data governance.” It reminds me, in its own way, of the internet. This thing called the “internet” promised to change the way we looked at and did business. We had to know more or risk being left behind.

More recently, the same held true of cloud computing, which seemed so foreign at first. But the more we learned about it, we realized the potential it held to do business more efficiently, enabling us to concentrate on our core capabilities.

From SaaS to IaaS to PaaS and more, many of us gradually began to assume that the cloud would be an intrinsic part of our infrastructure. Even more so with the internet; it simply became part of doing business.

And so it is with data governance, defined as “a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.” Sounds like something you need, right?

Forrester (paywall) recently issued a prediction for 2019, saying, “Ambient data governance will take the trauma out of old-school governance,” and predicting that “ambient data governance will prevail as a strategy to automate and intelligently scale data policy deployment while learning and adapting policies based on data consumer interaction.”

The term “data governance” may be difficult enough for companies to accept; a deeper dive, though, delivers a clear understanding of where things are headed. The very use of the term “ambient” implies that over time, data governance will be subsumed as a normal part of doing business and we won’t even think of it as being a separate entity. I think that is a correct assumption, but it’s not going to happen without time and significant effort.

It’s going to be needed sooner rather than later, given the rapid worldwide adoption of regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s similar statute, CCPA, not to mention existing laws such as HIPAA and more. These laws already (or will) cover every bit of data under enterprise control, regardless of what it is or where it is, and your organization already has more data than we ever imagined possible just a few years ago, with far more on the way.

Even with the regulations that control how you handle that data, the chances are good that your company will collect substantially more every day. Manual governance will no longer be enough.

Which means that companies must, if they haven’t already done so, begin the process of implementation to getting ready for ambient data governance. That, in itself, requires a major shift in mindset by many firms, along with tangible steps they must take.

Appoint A Chief Data Officer (CDO)

Keeping track of the data under your control is no longer a task that can be relegated to IT or another department as just “one more thing” to handle. The explosion in compliance regulations means an official will need to control, direct and take responsibility for your company’s focused actions in this area.

Become ‘Data Literate’

Your CDO can lead the effort here. Companies must be able to read, write and communicate data in context, then continually measure the results. In some cases, this may require your colleagues to adopt a different mindset. With data at the core of everything, decisions must be based on quantifiable data.

Evolve Toward Being An ‘Insights-Driven’ Organization

You want people throughout your organization to be able to access the data they need to analyze and gain insights from data without needing support from IT or the analytics department. Technology is key to achieving this; but in the end, it’s people who use it who will make the decisions that move your company forward.

Please understand that at some point in the near future, we won’t be talking about data discovery and data governance as separate entities. The internet and cloud computing have become accepted parts of doing business; ambient

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