Governance Automation Will Propel the Big Winners in Digital Transformation

Paul Gillin

Governance automation can unleash the power of digital transformation, enabling organizations to make data central to all of their decision-making. But that requires overhauling the governance practices that are still woefully immature in many organizations.

The information management problem is only going to get worse as the volume of information that organizations collect grows more than fourfold over the next two years, according to a new survey by AIIM. The manual processes that dominate most governance practices will be unable to keep up with that volume. The AIIM report found that more than half of respondents characterized tasks, such as applying metadata to archived content, converting unstructured data to a structured format and integrating content management into line-of-business applications, as currently immature.

Automation can help, but 70% of decision-makers said key governance processes remain less than 50% automated. Management indifference was evident in the fact that nearly half said they have a problem convincing top executives that they should even care about information governance.

Organizations that aggressively move towards governance automation stand to be the biggest winners in the race toward digital transformation. Yet at many organizations, governance practices are siloed, uncoordinated and manual. Responsibility is invested in individuals or departments, meaning that, as far as knowledge workers are concerned, it’s someone else’s problem. The result is that people can’t get the information they need. An International Data Corp study has estimated that knowledge workers spend nearly one-sixth of their time finding looking for information and find the information they need only 56% of the time. This problem only worsens as volumes grow.

Everyone’s Business

But digital transformation demands that everyone in the organization take ownership of classifying, cleaning, structuring and preserving data. “Your business is data; it defines your market, it’s your competitive advantage, it drives your innovation, profitability, and customer experience,” wrote Thomas Koulopoulos, David Friend in their recent book, The Bottomless Cloud. Governance automation is essential to making quality data available to everyone who needs. it

The technology now exists to apply automation to some of the most daunting governance tasks, such as detecting duplicate information, applying metadata, defining and executing retention policies, and cleaning “dirty” data.

For example, machine learning algorithms can be trained to look for patterns in text documents that indicate how unstructured data should be categorized. Today’s analytics tools can combine structured and unstructured data, and the latest breed of business intelligence software can display these discoveries in brilliant visualizations.

Once data is categorized and cleaned, business processes can be redesigned around governance automation. Processes that were once linear become parallel. Information can be searched, shared, embellished and classified interactively by teams of people, with each building upon the contributions of others.

Governance automation can also detect and flag personally identifiable information, speed data discovery and identify records that have outlived their useful life. The tools to accomplish these goals aren’t science fiction; all exist today. The organizations that put them to work quickly will be the ones that reap the bounty of digital transformation’s riches.

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