The widespread shift to working from home in 2020 forced many companies to rapidly adopt cloud technologies to enable remote workforces and customer connections. However, some important IT planning may have been overlooked amid the urgency to transition to the cloud. A long-term plan around data governance — the approach to managing and using data securely in enterprise systems — may not have been implemented when moving to the cloud.
Understandably, data governance may not have been a top priority for companies in the pandemic’s early days. But now, as companies review their cloud strategies and contemplate the next steps for maximizing value from the cloud, data governance plays a critical role in cloud optimization. This is especially true as the pace of data creation has rapidly accelerated since 2020. If not kept in check, the rapid creation of data can result in data sprawl, a staggering amount of unorganized data that leaves your IT environment in disarray.
Organizations that are looking to move more workloads to the cloud or consolidate IT environments in preparation for a merger or acquisition should use this opportunity for true digital transformation and improvement. Below are five key ways companies can optimize their IT environments to ensure long-term success.
Plan to Introduce Governance
Keeping command of your data begins with data governance. Unfortunately, many organizations still have not invested in proper governance. Companies may invest in tools to help meet compliance rules and enhance discovery within their systems, but devoting resources to managing or governing data is less often a priority. Consequently, problems around governing data can quickly get out of control — such as surging costs around data sprawl and negative employee experiences with having to chase down the data they need.
To proactively address this, establish a plan for introducing a governance model and train internal IT teams to do the governance work. Make sure they understand the technology tools that are available to them and the necessary reporting to make decisions around what data to keep and how to manage data access. This will set the framework for curbing instances of sprawl.
Clean House of Unnecessary Data
Whether from on-prem to the cloud or between cloud tenants, migrating data always presents an opportunity to clean house. If your company is migrating workloads to the cloud or consolidating IT resources, use this opportunity to re-evaluate what you have and eliminate data you don’t need.
Compliance rules that apply to your company will factor into what data you can remove, but chances are there is still data you can archive or purge. Review platforms like Microsoft Teams and its channels and determine what must be kept. You may find there’s a better way to structure Teams, channels, document libraries and SharePoint. If your company’s compliance guidelines require you to retain a significant amount of data, this data doesn’t need to be available to all users. Only make it accessible to those who need it.
Hire a Lead
It can be worthwhile to hire someone to truly own governance. Consider hiring a data governance lead who reports directly to the company’s CTO or CIO. Have them define the reporting and methodologies for technology resource allocation and measure the associated costs.
Governance isn’t just about using technology; it’s about the proactive use of technology, which a responsible lead can enforce. However, your governance lead will need support from company leadership to institute change and ensure that any issues that surface aren’t only identified but also addressed.
Investing in a governance champion doesn’t have to be a new hire; it might be a third-party tech solution that can monitor your systems and deliver insights to inform better decisions. Ultimately, your governance champion must enable you to access data when you need it at the right time. Otherwise, your data can be outdated by the time you access it.
Build a Roadmap
Establishing best practices for data governance is not always straightforward. Often, it requires time. To that end, consider developing a governance roadmap to inform how your company will move forward. This can help your company address smaller objectives while also mapping out strategic projects to drive reporting and governance practices. In addition, your roadmap can outline how to evaluate new cloud or technology solutions against governance guidelines.
Make sure to build flexibility into your governance plan and how your organization approaches its technology solutions and data management. Because at the end of the day, your objectives are improving efficiency, cost management and employee satisfaction.
Once you can get your house in order, do not abandon your governance practices. Governance isn’t just about fixing a problem; it’s about ongoing maintenance to make sure your company is in control of data creation, access and management. Regularly assessing your data helps ensure that only the best, most accurate, and relevant data is kept, and outdated or unnecessary data doesn’t accumulate.
While companies may have overlooked a long-term governance plan in the rush to move to the cloud, it’s never too late to introduce a governance model that will ensure long-term success. Considering the staggering amount of data most enterprises generate, they must act on the opportunity to implement effective governance practices. Doing so will enable your organization to leverage technology more efficiently, improve productivity, manage costs better, and maximize the value of your IT resources.
Photo Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock
Frank Suglia is the vice president of technical sales at BitTitan, where he works closely with the company’s partners to showcase and drive new and recurring revenues. His areas of expertise include SaaS, digital marketing and performance optimization, enterprise solution delivery, technology sales and delivery methodologies, and user interface design.