Information is power…but it also creates organizational risk
Information is an increasingly valuable business asset. It is a resource that can help empower a business, allow it to uncover new opportunities and develop a competitive edge. For example, many online businesses routinely sift through massive amounts of data collected from users for insights into how they can better target potential customers.
Along with these new opportunities, however, come various risks and responsibilities related to the collection, use, retention, storage, transfer, and disposition of information. In the past, when information was not being collected at such an extraordinary rate, businesses could deal with compliance issues on a case-by-case basis. There were fewer downsides to keeping information without thinking about how, where or why the information was collected, stored and used. Today, the risks associated with improperly managed business information are growing significantly. Heightened regulatory obligations, oversight and enforcement related to information handling practices mean the issues have become more complicated, intertwined and costly.
How does information governance help?
A robust information governance (IG) program is essential to resolving the regulatory issues and business risk accompanying uncontrolled information. IG is essentially about the proper management and control of organizational information. An effective IG solution can help businesses address a wide array of information management and regulatory compliance issues including records retention, privacy, cross-border data transfer, digitization and e-record keeping, data security, e-discovery, lawful access, and freedom of information. By acknowledging the complex and inter-related nature of these issues, IG provides a comprehensive plan that identifies and provides answers to overlapping compliance requirements across departments, business functions, and the jurisdictions in which a business operates.
IG can also help reduce the costs associated with legal compliance. Without an effective IG solution, businesses will be exposed to increased costs resulting from duplication of effort across different departments, customer complaints, audit and investigation, claims and litigation, negative publicity, and sanctions for non-compliance. They also may be forced to redevelop products and services to comply with local legal requirements affecting information practices.
If businesses plan to unlock the full potential of their data while minimizing legal risk, IG is an essential tool to navigate the associated issues. Any business that prioritizes IG will be able to mitigate the risk of using information and drive its operations forward. IG can provide the competitive edge needed to become a market leader.
Contributors – Andrew Chien & Lisa Douglas