The future’s bright, the future’s Information Governance?

Now that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is here one of the things on people's minds is the future. Where are we going with this? Where is the EU going with GDPR? Where is Britain going with Data Protection given Brexit and the changing political landscape here?

One of the things we started with was a state of the world that I was taught while attending a Business Continuity event last year. They said that we have entered the age of VUCA and that age of long-term strategy was effectively over. VUCA stands for the following as it states that the future will be Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. It was predicted that Trump wouldn't be elected US President, it was predicted that the British public would vote to stay in the EU, it was predicted that due to the global economy the actions and politics of the cold war and early 1930s wouldn't return... Wrong on all counts! Trust in predictions is at an all-time low and organisations are, rightly or wrongly, preparing for an extended period of uncertainty.

A few organisations have already started to speculate what this means for Data Protection, but what does this mean for Information Governance more widely?

Well, where are we as of today?

  • We have the GDPR and DPA 2018 which we know about
  • Freedom of Information (FOI) is ticking along with no major changes on the horizon
  • Information is now seen as a science and offered as a degree to study at university (and considered a profession)
  • Fake news continues to be a problem with no clear solution for combatting propaganda, poor reporting or politically motivated 'stirring'.
  • Facebook, after its recent scandals over data misuse and fake news, is publically saying it's trying to combat it but in reality, the problem only seems to be getting worse
  • Brexit is coming (less than 200 days now)
  • Austerity still affects most of the public sector with the Government warning of further Austerity in the event of a no-deal Brexit
  • We have 2 major Government inquiries underway looking at record keeping, both widely predicted to comment on both good and bad practice across government and private sector (Grenfell and IICSA)
  • And most importantly GDPR has put data accuracy, data management and governance on the agenda of organisations all over the globe.

It was agreed around the room that the work to implement GDPR, for most of the organisations there, has lifted the lid on the state of records and data in their respective organisations. For years organisations and staff have just stored and stored data giving rise to the various issues many organisations suffer from today around discovery, use, storage and accuracy. It has also highlighted a big problem with system development and poor considerations for systems to A, integrate with other systems and B, take care of the data they host and manipulate. Organisations have been left with piles and piles of stuff. Some of which they are starting to see what can be done with, but many of which will still require some wading through to work out what is worthwhile and what is just ROT (Redundant, Obsolete or Transient data).

In the 2018 Data Management Survey from Experian, the results of the survey show that C-Level Executives believe in the value of data (almost 95%) and that there are challenges to preserving and utilising that value. But what is the best way to protect that value and maximise utilisation? Information Governance!

My prediction is that given all the current interest in data and records the investment and understanding of information management will only continue to grow until it becomes business as usual. Organisations have already started to put controls in place to get their data architecture to a state where it's as good as it can practically be. This will, of course, take time BUT the importance of governance of information and data has started to be established.

However, this momentum won't continue to grow on its own. All the various professionals that work in Information Governance and Information Management need to continue to push the IG/IM message and develop the softer skills to help IG become an accepted function of an organisation (just like HR, Finance, Sales etc). Soft skills like the ability to pitch your message to the right audience, learning how the business works and how the interpersonal relationships work so that you can build and maintain bridges with the right people.

But more on that later. ;o)


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