Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chief INFORMATION Officer - Not really!

The news that the Prudential has been fined by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) after a "mix-up" over the administration of two customers’ accounts should send a further warning to CIOs and Compliance officers that managing information as real critical business asset must be taken seriously.

Chris Bradley, an well known independent Information Strategist has been evangelising the Information Management message across the world for many years said:
“Unfortunately, only a few companies are really serious regarding management of information as a vital corporate asset.  If the assets of cash or physical property or employees were treated as poorly as Information there would be major scandal, but the mis-management (all be it unintentional) of information is fast becoming a critical impedance to business success”

The Prudential mix up led to tens of thousands of pounds, meant for an individual’s retirement fund ending up in the wrong Customers account.  Bradley further commented that:
“This is important because it is the first ICO penalty served which does not relate to loss of data, but rather puts the spotlight firmly on the absence of sound Data Governance and Master Data Management in companies”

The original error was caused when the records of both customers, who share the same first name, surname and date of birth, were mistakenly merged in March 2007.

Stephen Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, said, “In this case two customer files were consistently confused and the company failed to remedy the situation despite being alerted to the problem on more than one occasion before it was finally resolved”

Chris has been advising his clients upon the vital importance of Data Governance and the critical role Master Data Management (MDM) plays in this.  He successfully introduced a Business focused MDM approach into Global organisations in the Finance, Oil & Gas and Pharmaceutical sectors.  Acknowledged Information Management thought leader and author Bradley further commented “We’re delighted to help our clients truly see the value that effective business focused Master Data Management plays and how it is critical to achieving effective information governance”

He further continued, “make no mistake, this is one of the most important considerations for CIO’s in just about any organisation that is subject to any degree of regulatory or compliance pressure”

His insight is echoed by Gartner whose recent research stated “By 2016, 20 percent of CIOs in regulated industries will lose their jobs for failing to implement the discipline of information governance successfully” The same 2012 Gartner survey also supports his Information Management position stating: “Through 2016, spending on governing information must increase to five times the current level to be successful”.

The good news however that is some enlightened organisations are recognising the importance of managing data as an asset, however several holders of the CIO role are not really taking responsibility for Information but rather focus upon the delivery of Technology & Applications.

The realisation that Information must be managed as a corporate asset has given rise to the new phenomenon of the Chief Data Officer.  As recently as June 21, 2012, according to a survey by GoldenSource Corporation over 60 percent of firms surveyed are actively working towards creating specialized data stewards, and eventually Chief Data Officers, for their enterprise.

So a few years after the financial crisis, institutions are still struggling to get a 360-degree view of their data.  Considering organizational, policy, and behaviours within which a data control framework operates is as important as the underlying technology services that enable it. Appointing data stewards and Chief Data Officers to incite governance across these firms will be crucial to success.

Bradley concludes that the Chief Data Officer, distinct from the Chief Information Officer will be one of the top critical hires in 2013 - 2015.

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