As we put 2020 behind us and look forward to 2021, we reflected in an interactive virtual discussion forum on the key IG learnings from the past 12 months and the insights and actions we now need to be taking to make the most of the opportunities and challenges on the road to recovery in 2021.
We’ve seen the different ways governments have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the results in managing the pandemic. Similarly, organisations have had to adapt to the changes and, in particular, to faster digital transformation. Robust governance of organisations and of information has never been so important. Increased cyber risks and the importance of access to real-time and accurate data for decision-making, both at the board level and throughout the organisation, are now critical issues.
Our expert panel included InfoGovANZ International Council member Ronke Ekwensi, who is Vice President of Data Management at Prudential. With more than 25 years’ experience in data and information governance, Ronke is skilled in data strategy, privacy and information governance. She excels at building data management organizations and managing complex projects and initiatives. Ronke has served in various senior data and information governance capacities with several industry-leading firms, including Aetna, Baxalta and Pfizer. Her professional experience includes positions in the healthcare, biopharmaceuticals, power, technology, consumer electronics and management consulting industries.
If there is anything that 2020 taught us, it is companies must have the agility to react to the unpredictable. The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to address both the monetary and social value of data.
- Value of data in driving digital transformation – the pandemic forced many companies to accelerate their digital transformation strategies. This mostly focused on how use technology to improve customer experience, create new products and significantly deepen understanding of their customers. This requires complete and accurate data that allows organisations to drive transformation initiatives.
- Value of data in driving social good – the era of big data has shifted the traditional data collection paradigm, with more data in the hands of private corporations than government and research organisations.
- Data collected by private and public companies,while valuable for advancing commercial interests, is also valuable for social good. As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are numerous examples of this data malleability, for example, location data is useful for digital contact tracing to arrest the progress of disease spread. In the same way in which companies give away cash through corporate giving programs, they should consider giving away data for social good.
- Importance of good data management and governance –there is a distinction between data management and data governance. Management involves how to make sure data is useful and fit for purpose within an organisation. It includes quality management, metadata capture to accelerate data consumption patterns and other processes, such as security and monitoring. Data governance is more focused on appropriate use and controls (i.e., people and processes). Organisations have to do both in an integrated fashion to ensure that data moves from bits and bytes to useful information that drives decision-making.
Suggestions for leaders
- Shift your focus and don’t attempt to “boil the data ocean”. Instead, invest in the data that is critical to advancing digital transformation. These investments should focus on data completeness and include external data asset acquisition.
- Consider: (1) assess the value of your data for driving social good and (2) invest in advancing regulatory frameworks that allow you to share data for initiatives that promote societal welfare in ways that balance protection and privacy concerns.
- Your focus on data governance should be multitiered including defining working groups, councils and executive steering committees, that reduce bureaucracy and ensure appropriate escalation to enable timely decision-making. The focus should be on enabling results.
Given the expected ongoing complex and uncertain operating environment in 2021, robust information governance is needed to provide a system for the effective control and management of information assets to enable access to real-time and accurate information, as well as optimise data assets and value-generating activities while minimising risks.
You can read the insights from the rest of our expert panel in our InfoGovANZ Key Learnings from 2020 – Action and Insights for 2021 Report. The report was developed from a virtual forum discussing the impact of COVID-19 and IG implications for organisations on data, access to information, trust, transparency and accountability, cybersecurity, global privacy regulatory developments, eDiscovery, ethics and artificial intelligence.
You can also watch the recording of the 28 January 2021 webinar here.