The Three Pillars of Data Management

Just like water, data flows from many different places and can be difficult to control. "Information is our generation's next natural resource," said Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO. But using analytics to uncover, capture, and mind trends in information can help agencies lower costs, maximize limited resources, and improve overall operational efficiency. To help you understand how to leverage this natural resource, we have started a three part blog series. Below is the final posting, providing you with insights on the three pillars of data management.

You might feel like you’re a data hoarder, especially with all the information you are required to store and manage. Data can take up a lot of real estate on your servers and in the cloud. There can also be hefty price tags attached to extracting data or increasing storage.

In many cases, these hoarding tendencies might be justified. For instance, you might be mandated to store information for a long period of time; provide data access through different file types; or must store both on premise and on the cloud.

But be warned: the necessity to hoard your data shouldn’t become a trap for improper data management. You are well aware as IT professionals that bad data into a system means bad data coming out. In an age where access to high-value data is driving business decisions, you must take extensive measures to focus on proper data management.

So what can an IT professional do to break free of data hoarding and to improve data management? Here are three pillars of data management that can help:

1. Governance

IT governance is an essential component to making IT work at your agency. It covers everything from policies and procedures to oversight of data management. A good IT governance plan not only improves communications — it also mitigates risk and helps create a more cohesive strategy across your agency.

If you’re looking for a great resource on IT governance, check out this report: IT Governance: Developing a successful governance strategy, a best practice guide for decision makers in IT.

2. Training

It’s important to use the training of employees as an opportunity to build relationships, as well as inform your team. Your training can be creative, too; it doesn’t have to just be in-person meetings or conference calls. Think about distributing quick emails or weekly newsletters. Our recent guide on cybersecurity found that the state of Michigan has developed short informative videos as a means to provide cybersecurity training. The more creative you are, the more people will get talking and sharing the lessons learned.

3. Data Prioritization

Not all data sets are created equal. When thinking about your data, conduct an analysis of high priority data versus low priority data. For example, you may be able to save cost on cloud storage by optimizing data sets in the cloud and leveraging on-premise storage. If you know which data is essential to power your agency’s decisions, you can more effectively manage your organization’s information.

Governance, training and data prioritization are three key pillars of data management – but they make up only a small component of a holistic data management strategy. If you really want big data and analytics to take off at your agency, start by thinking about how these three pillars impact your data management strategies.

After reflecting, you can start to analyze the right kind of IT solution your agency needs, or modify your existing solution. And by asking the right questions, you can identify the answers you need. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What organizational issue are we trying to solve? How can data help?
  2. What’s this project’s mission value?
  3. How can we scale up if needed? What will this require us to do?
  4. What is our current policy and how often do we review it?
  5. How have we communicated these efforts to the rest of the team?
  6. Is our entire organization/department aware of the strategies? How have we engaged them into the process?
  7. What are our feedback mechanisms?
  8. Are we delivering on the needs of our users? How do we know?

Data offers so much opportunity to transform the business of government. By understanding these three pillars and your IT solutions, you will not be hoarding your data, but using it as a tool to reimagine how your agency delivers services.

Data as a Natural Resource Series

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The IBM Analytics Solution Center (ASC) is part of a network of global analytics centers that provides clients with the analytics expertise to help them solve their toughest business problems. Check out their Analytics to Outcomes group on GovLoop.

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