Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Here’s What Should Keep IT Leaders Up at Night. (Hint: It’s Not About Moving to the Cloud.)


By Graeme Thompson, CIO, Informatica
I recently stumbled across an article about how IT outsourcing was on its deathbed. The article was written in 2010, so of course its speculations about companies moving to "cloud-sourced environments" now seem almost quaint. But at the time, it was prescient in predicting the imminent move of even the most critical applications to cloud vendors -- and in starkly warning CIOs that they needed to start worrying about how to adapt their strategies around integration, security, governance, and other IT operations.
Fast forward to the better part of a decade and IT leaders are still getting admonitions about trends and technologies that ought to be keeping us up at night. In one specific case, I think these warnings are overstated. But in another, I think we aren't as concerned as we should be.
Don't lose sleep over moving to the cloud
If you still have nightmares about the security or agility of cloud services, it's time to wake up. We've passed that tipping point. Although some companies are locked into the middle ground of "private cloud," that's not so much a choice as it’s a need to increase the ROI on the significant capital they've tied up in data center assets.
Yes, it's still a lot of work to choose vendors and shift critical applications to the cloud, but it's significantly less risky than it was even a few years ago. IT organizations have learned a lot about vendor risk management, and IT procurement teams are far more savvy about negotiating agreements. The path to cloud is now well-worn, and it's much harder to get lost on the way.
Instead, worry about the data-governance gap
I see more and more companies starting to manage and secure data as a business asset, and that means looking for more ways to turn data into value, whether it’s by applying next-generation analytics or by creating entirely new revenue streams.
As they explore the possibilities, companies are starting to realize they need to find ways to use data from one line of business to enable a workstream in another line of business, and then report on it at the enterprise level. The problem is, they can't do it because each process is executed in different systems, with different management focus, terminology, and KPIs.
In other words, they need governance. The need to create common definitions of data, agreed-upon methods of calculating metrics, and a way to trace a publicly reported KPI back to the transaction that created it requires a solid data governance practice. Which is not a problem any one function, or IT can solve on its own.
Wanted: Data governance partnership
If my peers and I are going to help our companies leverage good data governance to outperform our competitors, we need to worry about the engagement strategy needed to govern the data company-wide.
Data governance is a joint IT and business problem. The business can’t delegate this to IT because we lack the domain knowledge to make the declarations needed. Instead, CIOs must encourage the creation of cross-functional data governance groups, keep them aligned with the company objectives driving the need, and give them the tools they need to take advantage of this complex but valuable opportunity.

What keeps you up at night? Let me know how you are handling the challenges of data governance via Twitter at @e_graeme.

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