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6 steps to implement a successful data compliance strategy

With 2018 drawing to a close and 2019 just around the corner, now is the time when people start reviewing their current policies and assessing which ones need changing.

Concerning data governance, professionals cannot merely assume what they did in 2018 will be sufficient moving forward. Here are six tips for managing and governing data in 2019.

1. Don't Overlook Data Quality Management

It's not enough for businesses to have processes for collecting data. That's an important start, but companies must prioritize improving the overall quality of the data. A 2017 Forbes report warned poor-quality data is costly and risky for businesses. It could also cause CEOs and other decision-makers to lack confidence in the data and what it indicates.

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Coaxial cables feed into a server inside a comms room at an office in London, U.K., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. A group of Russian hackers infiltrated the servers of Dow Jones & Co., owner of the Wall Street Journal and several other news publications, and stole information to trade on before it became public, according to four people familiar with the matter. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Plus, a study from the Business Application Research Center ranked data quality management as the most critical business analytics trend for 2019. But, data quality management is not straightforward, because it involves multiple steps. Companies must acquire the data, analyze it with advanced processes, effectively managing the data and finally, managing oversight.
When businesses focus on data quality management and even create key performance indicators to reflect their goals, the dedication to this aspect of data management should pay off.

2. Get Senior Managers Involved in Data Management and Governance

At some companies, it may seem adequate to have a single person in charge of data management and governance, especially at a small organization.

However, an infographic from Infogix about 2019 data-related trends points out these needs require a team effort. More specifically, senior leaders and C-suite executives need to collaborate and develop strategies together.

Doing that helps create and maintain a data-driven culture from the top down. Collaboration also stimulates innovation and the adoption of new technologies that could help the organization remain competitive.

3. Align Data Governance With Data Regulations

In 2018, people spent a significant amount of time prepping for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May and applies to organizations operating in the European Union or marketing to customers who live there. As a start, getting compliant with the GDPR means classifying data and creating a data map that shows locations.

And, businesses must be aware of the other data regulations coming down the pipeline.

For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and analysts believe it will shake up established business models in the digital realm, mainly because people can opt out of having their data sold and can request that companies delete their data.

The law only applies to California residents, but even if companies have a small percentage of customers from that state, it won't be feasible for them to adopt one set of data practices for that state and another for residents of others. That means companies need to be forward-thinking and read about all applicable current and upcoming regulations, then structure their practices around them.

It's more efficient to get in compliance from the start, rather than tweaking methods later once shortcomings become apparent. It may also be helpful for companies to hire consultants or invest in new software options such as an entity management system to help them maintain GDPR compliance and get equipped for future regulations.

4. Explore Potential Software Upgrades or New Usage Strategies

Powerful software suites could make excellent data management and governance much more achievable than they'd be without those tools. Investing in those options requires data professionals to know about the characteristics of a well-built system, whether the data relates to entity management or something else.

For example, the software should have interoperability with other systems an organization uses, feature an easy-to-use interface and be able to adapt to global needs. It may also be the case in 2019 that businesses can find new ways to use their existing software to make sure it aligns with data governance regulations and other needs.

5. Implement Data Management and Governance Training Throughout the Organization

Although it's crucial for data governance professionals to stay abreast of best practices for handling information, the entire staff at an organization should receive relevant training on the subject. That's because when regulated data gets exposed, malicious actions are not to blame the vast majority of the time.

Metadata from Radar Inc. collected from 2016 and 2017 discovered more than 92 percent of incidents and 87 percent of breaches are unintentional or inadvertent. Given those extremely high percentages, it's unlikely the figures in 2019 will show a significant change across such a short period.

So, a smart thing for companies to do is ensure all staffers who work with data in any capacity receive ongoing and up-to-date training about data governance and management. Then, instances of human error should decline as people become increasingly familiar with best practices and the expectations the company has for them to follow.

6. Design a Data Governance Strategy for Cybersecurity

The increased need for organizational accountability regarding data management means companies need to be aware of the most prominent risks that could threaten their existing data strategies in 2019.

Moreover, there's a need to look at data management associated with cybersecurity. A successful data management program for cybersecurity is flexible and establishes the need for teamwork across departments.

When companies can thoroughly anticipate what's ahead in data governance and management during 2019, they'll be able to adjust practices as needed or establish new ones.
Being proactive in those ways reduces the likelihood of issues such as breaches or data inaccuracies.

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