Stop GIGO Data with Better Information Management

B. Ostergaard
B. Ostergaard

Summary Bullets:

  • The looming GIGO data storm
  • Information management capabilities are more important than cheap storage capacity

Ease of storage expansion as well as lower storage costs per TB, combined with the drive to be more security ‘compliant’, threaten to combine to create a perfect data storm. Present conditions seem to encourage regulators and government agencies to insist that public sector institutions as well as corporations collect and retain even more data that is not required for operational purposes, but might be needed in future, or might be needed for public safety, or might aid future issue handling. Corporate governance, risk, compliance (GRC) policies are going in the same direction. The bottom line is: added operational costs.  Privacy issues aside, from a cost-benefit perspective two facts spring out: first, some 98% of what is stored is never viewed again, and second information management is way behind the curve. To put it bluntly: garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) is a growing problem because duplication, inconsistencies, randomness as well as systemic errors, lead to massive waste. Policy decisions based on such data risk being flawed and misleading, rather than those based on well-informed analysis of timely and reliable data. Clearly, it’s easier to just add more data to storage than to actually create an information management policy and capability that gives some assurance that data used for decision-making is valid to some defined degree.

EURIM, the European Information Society Alliance, has this advice for e-government policy makers: they need to recognize that they are comparatively minor players in a mature, global market for personal and business information, including identity registration and customer identification services and analyses of transactions and patterns of behavior, and the information they collect and maintain should be clearly relevant to the service delivered and aligned to the objectives of the organisation, using collection. Furthermore, validation processes should not get in the way of efficient service delivery.

We might also, in the spirit of Christmas, encourage politicians to look for a ‘Peace Dividend’ and limit future personal data collection legislation – insisting rather on better information management in the public sector. On the corporate IT side, data storage policies should be closely aligned with data management capabilities – more data is not necessarily better data. In fact a great New Year’s pledge to the corporate GRC process, might be to let information management capabilities determine data storage policies, rather than the other way round. Vendors and service providers may also be able to help as they highlight their ‘Big Data’ and data analytics capabilities in 2012.


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