Malcom Gladwell popularized the phrase “the tipping point” in his best-selling book that highlighted how a series of events over time can lead to a moment when massive growth and expansion materializes.
Gladwell underscores that often the triggers that drive these significant tipping point events are obscure and have enough latency that they may not be recognized or understood until after the fact. In other words, grasping the isolated multiple threads for a trend - whether societal, fashion or product related - that actually contribute to a tipping point event are a challenge.
There is no question that technological innovation is one area where we have no shortage of visionaries that conjure up the what, when and how technology will change the paradigm in which we live and work. We have a world of microprocessors powering billions of devices connected in the cloud.
Soon we will live in a new era of self driving cars that process billions of commands from billions of sensors about the car, location, direction, speed and schedule. We are at the tipping point of the Internet of Things (IoT) – where physical devices across the globe are consuming and creating data to drive a continuously connected world.
It was not a huge leap for the industry to realize that an IoT global network of continuously connected devices would mean that data would not only be created at geometric rates, but that it would become one of the most valuable commodities in the world. And although there are many new start-up companies storing, analyzing and integrating massive lakes of big data created from the IoT, not many have actually considered how the IoT will transform how organizations think and implement data quality and information governance.
Wikipedia defines information governance as a set of core disciplinary structure, policies, procedures, processes and controls implemented to manage information at an enterprise level, supporting an organization’s immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk and environmental and operation requirements.
Gartner defines information governance as the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to ensure behavior in the valuation, storage, use, archiving and deletion of information.
These are no doubt accurate and encompassing definitions; yet they are definitions built on top of, and rooted in processes that are being forever changed by IoT.
Governance in an enterprise software world
Data defines how you operate your company at a foundational level. It reflects the reality of knowing your customer to accurately fulfill orders and send invoices.
Data also impacts how you operate your factories and what you manufacture as products, as well as how you measure success and failure from your financial reporting. Data is vital to every process in the organization and the discipline of information governance has become one of the most strategic areas within corporate management to understand and manage data.
No doubt, the prospect of an IoT future is an inflection point for companies in every industry. Product designers and engineers will have access to real time analytics on industrial and consumer devices and machines that will result in a near-perfect engineering scenario of unlimited usage data to improve product design features and quality control.
Having access to smart devices on the edge of the network will drastically change how the companies of today produce, market, sell and service their products and customers.
However, will the notion of data quality and information governance as we know it today address the challenges that will be created as a result of a the proliferation of the IoT and real time processes?
Governance in an IoT world
For the past two decades data governance solutions have been developed to work within the scope of legacy processes - processes that were created and constrained by an analog world where people are at the edge of the network as opposed to real-time machines.
Today’s governance has become a type of process governance firewall between the application and the creation/deletion of data (master, strategic and transactional). Whenever there is a need to create, change or modify data in an application or system, there is a data governance process that initiates the requests and orchestrates the review and approval process.
What happens in a world where billions of sensors, devices and machines create and transmit data to real time business processes? What happens when this data is at the edge of the network and the volume of data from these sensors and machines is increasing geometrically?
As we approach this IoT world, the requirement for information governance becomes even more strategic to every company and applications. How does governance scale? What will the solutions look like and what companies will innovate with new software and hardware technology?
The future of information governance is in for some drastic changes. The ever-evolving cloud will be a key driver of the new governance technology landscape since it is the only way to identify, connect, and analyze aggregated data from the edge of the network to ensure that IoT data aligns with all process governance constructs.
Enterprises embracing the tipping point of IoT must realistically address the above questions to prepare to harness the power of interconnected, real-time device data across global organizations.
(About the author: David Booth is chief executive officer at BackOffice Associates).
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