Sunday, January 13, 2013

Data Governance is about Hearts and Minds, not Technology

Unsurprisingly, the principal point of discussion at FIMA 2012 was the area of information management and the rise of its importance within the finance sector. With regulatory pressure driving interest – hardly something the finance industry is not used to! – along with the proposed legal entity identifier which is pushing all businesses to have a growing and willing demand for detailed, even real-time, knowledge, information management was a topic that permeated almost every discussion at the three day event in London.

Of course, increasing awareness and debate around this topic can surely only be good news for the industry. There is clear benefit in those in the finance sector now realising that failure to manage data effectively – and therefore conform to legislative and regulatory requirements – can have catastrophic effects, resulting in imprisonment as well as businesses being shut down. After all, where other sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, have been deploying information management systems for some time, in the finance arena it is a surprisingly relatively new concept.

Therefore, the interesting workshops dedicated to information management at FIMA 2012 were very welcome and apt, however these could have held more relevance through cross-industry comparisons. Had these presentations and workshops shown delegates examples of successful deployments of information management systems and processes in a relatively comparative industry, than those who were slightly on the fence about the need for information management would have left with a solid understanding of how such a system can really benefit a business.

On a related note, the drive for organisations to hire a Chief Data Officer was also highlighted at FIMA 2012. It is becoming glaringly apparent that the role of a CIO (largely though their typical 
experience) is solely to manage IT systems and infrastructure, and information management rarely 
therefore goes beyond its protection and storage. In order to instead manage data appropriately as a corporate asset, organisations must therefore hire or internally develop an individual to take responsibility and ensure this data governance – a trend I would actively encourage in the near future.

Overall, FIMA 2012 stoked the coals of a rising Information management emphasis within the finance sector. It is apparent that the industry is thankfully now seeing such activity as a necessity. Whether this is through fear of legislative backlash or a drive to improve efficiency and visibility is largely immaterial, provided there is a recognition that a failure to store, manage and use data appropriately is likely to lead to regulatory or customer service-related horror stories being unveiled at FIMA 2013. 


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