Businesses and organisations are facing a huge increase in the amount and variety of data they have to manage, with the ‘digital universe’ set to double in size every two years.
Breaches can result in huge financial penalties so data protection regulation “can no longer be treated as an after-thought”, according to John Culkin, director at information management firm Crown Records Management.
“Being responsible for data will not be a one-person job in future, even for the most talented CEO or CIO,” he says.
Here are his five tips on how to set up a framework to manage information.
1. Find out what data you have got
The first step to overhauling data governance in your organisation is to conduct an audit of all the information it holds. You need to figure out how much information being kept should be kept, and how much is unnecessary ‘data noise’ clogging up databases.
2. Make sure data is properly labelled
The ‘very basis’ of a good data policy lies in knowing if a document should be designated as a ‘record’, Culkin says. Organisations need clear, consistent guidelines to help staff separate records from routine documents, as classifying every bit of information as a record is expensive and unnecessary.
3. Train all of your staff
About 80 percent of data breaches stem from human error, so you need to train all staff on how to avoid data breaches and understand threats. There will soon be fines of up to five percent of turnover for breaking data regulations and strict rules on reporting breaches, so you need to decide who is in charge of reporting.
4. Make some of your employees ‘data owners’
‘Don’t be afraid to assign ownership of data to individual senior managers’, Caulkin says. There may be too much data in your organisation for one person to handle every type of information, but it is vital it is clear who has responsibility for managing data across different teams.
5. Keep policies and systems up-to-date
Old data policies were often written before the age of social media, so they need to be updated regularly as technology evolves. ‘Staying ahead of the game protects companies from breaches and turns records into assets’, Caulkin says.