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To truly appreciate just how we are served by the digital economy, we must revisit Damon Knight’s award-winning 1950 short story To Serve Man.  Popularized by a beloved 1962 TV episode of The Twilight Zone, Knight’s tale tells of aliens coming to Earth to bring humans “peace and plenty.”  Courtesy of the aliens’ advanced technologies, we soon enjoy the global benefits of unlimited electrical power, inexhaustible food, and the end of warfare.  And better yet, humans…
I’m here at RabbitHole, Inc., talking with the company’s Manager of Money in his office, which is buried in the Facilities Department, down in the building’s basement. I’m interviewing him to get a better sense of how RabbitHole manages money as a corporate asset. Pardon my asking, but how much money does RabbitHole have? “Frankly, no one knows – we don’t really keep track of that. We have boxes of paper currency stored off-site, but…
Earth Day reminds me of grabbing a coffee before a client meeting in San Francisco a couple years ago.  As I walked into a local Blue Bottle Coffee, I entered an environmental tableau.  The diverse crowd of customers was uniform in its vibe (young professional/Tech), clothing (black or grey organic fiber), and appetite for a curated/organic/Fair Trade coffee experience – and happy to pay a premium for it.  A phalanx of recycling containers awaited every…
They say that the right time to plant a tree is yesterday.  In a world of data dangers and opportunities, the time to elevate how your business governs its information is now.  That’s easy to say, but with all of the conflicting priorities facing companies today, for many it’s hard to get started, or to push ahead.  Sometimes it helps to revisit why an effort is worthwhile. So, here are a dozen reasons why your…
Our firm’s elephant icon is a nod to The Blind Men and the Elephant, the familiar, age-old parable for how we often do not see the big picture, but instead only the parts we directly encounter. And so it goes for organizations’ data. Individual company functions and departments often have their own, limited perspectives on information, seeing only the risks and opportunities with which they are directly familiar. Limited perspective yields limited perception – not a good thing for…
As you toss and turn in bed, you picture yourself on a strange playing field with other athletes swirling around you.  You have absolutely no idea what sport you are playing, nor a clue what the rules are.  It all feels beyond embarrassing, and downright dangerous. This is not just a bad dream – it’s the reality for companies possessing third-party data without clarity on what rules and responsibilities apply. Most companies possess some data that they do…
If you’re old enough, you’ll remember a time when businesses actually kept their own information (cue my adult children to roll their eyes). How quaint.  We no longer keep most of our information – providers do that for us.  We store our data in the cloud, with cloud providers. We outsource business applications to SaaS providers, and even entire systems as PaaS.  And we increasingly use service providers to handle key aspects of our business that we used operate internally,…
“Garbage in, garbage out” – we know that already, right?  Well … what we know about information quality and what we do are not always in sync. Just for kicks, consider information quality through the lens of the industrial quality movement. Looking down from 30,000 feet, the history of industrial quality goes something like this – Medieval Guild craftsmanship, then Industrial Revolution product inspection, and then the post-World War II focus on quality process management.  It sounds arcane, until one remembers…
It lingers on – that vaguely guilty feeling that there’s something sanctionable, even illegal, about routinely destroying business data.  That’s nonsense.  It is well-settled United States law that a company may indeed dispose of business data, if done in good faith, pursuant to a properly established, legally valid data retention schedule, and in the absence of an applicable litigation preservation duty. Even the courts themselves dispose of their data.  Federal courts are required by U.S. law to follow a …
As the information tide relentlessly rises, many organizations simply see an IT problem, to be fixed with a purely IT solution – more storage capacity, more tools, or both.  But merely adding more storage is a reaction, not a strategy.  And adding technology tools without the right governance rules invariably makes things worse, not better. This is not a criticism of your IT team.  Instead, the problem lies in a misunderstanding of the fundamental challenge.  Just as you shouldn’t bring…