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7 Pillars of Cloud Data Governance
Cloud computing is fast becoming the norm. Even before COVID-19 forced countless businesses to switch to a remote structure and allow employees to work from home via cloud-based software, more than 70 percent of Canadian companies had migrated to the cloud.
While cloud computing offers a wealth of benefits (scalability, vast storage, task automation, remote accessibility, etc.), data security is a key risk organizations must consider.
This is where cloud data governance comes in.
What is Data Governance?
Data governance helps businesses to take tighter control of information related to its own operations, customers, finances, and strategies. Poor management can leave data in the wrong hands and allow unauthorized users to take advantage of weaknesses, such as gaining access to your accounts, supplying competitors with corporate secrets, and exploiting customers.
Effective data governance lets companies leverage information to make smarter decisions, understand target audiences, identify potential security vulnerabilities, and measure overall performance. Gathering data and analyzing it properly can help businesses manage their finances, supply chains, and production processes effectively over time.
Establishing a proper data governance framework encourages teams to treat data responsibly and follow processes that prevent breaches. Data will be created, stored, and deleted according to strict guidelines. This ensures organizations comply with regulations (such as GDPR) and minimize oversights that could cause severe reputational damage.
Without data governance, companies may lose track of which data has been gathered, where it is stored, which steps are required for compliance, and more.
In short: with so much critical data now stored and analyzed in the cloud, data governance is essential for security and efficiency.
7 Pillars of Cloud Data Governance
When putting a cloud data governance framework in place, organizations must consider the following factors as fundamental pillars:
1. Define your goals and motivations
First and foremost: identify those concerns and goals motivating your business to implement a data governance strategy.
This can vary from one company to another. Security may be a core concern prompting your organization to take cloud data governance seriously, particularly with more than 28 million Canadians affected by a data breach within just 12 months.
Hackers continue to leverage increasingly sophisticated techniques to gain unauthorized access to systems, and businesses’ cybersecurity defenses must be reinforced to mitigate dangers. If security is a main driver, companies should explore how they’re at risk and the ways in which data governance reduces them.
Whatever the main drivers, they have to be clarified and discussed to justify the level of investment channeled into effective data governance. This establishes fixed goals that can drive quality decision-making from the start.
2. Establish clear roles within your team
Accountability is vital in building a cloud data governance framework. Certain individuals should be responsible for specific data assets (such as customer records) and have the knowledge to make decisions concerning utilization.
These ‘data owners’ should be chosen carefully based on their familiarity with the entities and their purpose, such as the team/person most likely to recognize an issue with the relevant data.
Data owners must be able to understand a data asset’s function and value within the business. They need the authority to greenlight actions, such as cleansing or improving the application of relevant data.
3. Bring key stakeholders up to date
Internal and external stakeholders should be aware of the current and planned status of data governance. Implementing a framework must be a well-planned, well-informed process, in which all key personnel understand why, how, and when changes are taking place.
All stakeholder needs must be considered when putting cloud data governance into effect. This includes shareholders, third-party vendors, business partners, and customers — improper collection, storage, and utilization of data in the cloud can have profound effects on them all.
4. Determine critical data elements
Critical data elements (CDEs) are classified as data which is essential for success in one or more areas of business. CDEs might contain personal information that must be protected to ensure compliance with privacy laws, such as that relating to a customer, supplier, or a product’s manufacturing process.
If any of these were to be compromised, business operations and quality could be put at risk. As a result, critical data elements should be determined when setting a cloud data governance framework in place, to keep them secure and managed properly to make the most of the information available.
5. Choose the most valuable metrics for performance tracking
Certain metrics can be utilized to measure the performance and value of data governance over time.
These may include cost reduction, data accuracy, the number of times data has to be updated to address issues, timeliness of data, and more. Monitor your chosen metrics consistently to identify potential improvement opportunities.
6. Pick your tools and technologies wisely
The right tools help to make effective data governance easier. They cultivate stronger decision-making, data management, and data quality, while automating smaller tasks for more time-efficient processes.
Popular data governance tools include Talend, Collibra, IBM, and IO-TAHOE. Choose your tools and technologies carefully to make sure they align with your business goals, processes, expectations, and budget. Again: don’t rush into a decision. Good data governance is too valuable to underestimate.
7. Keep your team educated and updated
It’s crucial that all employees and stakeholders stay updated on the value of effective cloud data governance. Regular training should be delivered in accessible programs, covering procedures, policies, data owners, technologies, and crisis responses.
This reduces the risk of mistakes or oversights caused by educational blind spots. When you first start building your data governance framework, try to identify the current level of awareness and put training programs which align with this in place.
Cloud data governance is fundamental for any company switching to cloud-based technologies. Cybersecurity and compliance are two of the most important elements to consider when putting a framework in place: errors in either can lead to serious problems with the potential to disrupt operations significantly.
To discuss our data governance, third-party risk management, compliance, and vulnerability management services, just get in touch today!
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Steve E. Driz, I.S.P., ITCP