Information governance, often simply referred to as IG, can have many benefits for modern businesses in the information age. Corporations of all shapes and sizes are increasingly realizing that the information they create, store and transmit, from the desktops in their offices to their remote data centers, is an asset that should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, many organizations still don’t know what IG is or how it can benefit their operation. This precious data (or information) requires formal policies, procedures and strategies regarding its integration and governance, in order to reduce the risk of regulatory mishaps and to protect the company’s competitive edge. While the members of a business’ management team don’t need to understand the highly technical nature of information integration and governance at every level, it is important to understand the basics and to see what the potential benefits are.

What Is Information Governance?

IG is an all-encompassing term that may be used to describe many different controls, policies, procedures, processes and structures utilized to support enterprise information integration across multiple disciplines. It is typically used to describe accountability and specification processes for businesses, rather than for nonprofits and other types of organizations. Many prefer the term “information security governance,” because IG relates so closely with the environmental, legal, operational, regulatory and risk requirements of businesses, both in the short term and long term. It is a rather novel concept that may have slightly different meanings depending on your school of thought or the specific needs and goals of your business. In general, though, the term describes the metrics, processes, roles and standards that promote the most favorable use of data and ultimately help increase revenues and productivity, among other goals that can be achieved.

How Does Information Governance Benefit My Business?

There are many potential benefits to enforcing a formal enterprise information integration and governance policy for your company, whatever industry you may be in, and whether you’re a midsized business or a massive corporation. Business owners, employees, managers and teams at all levels can benefit from a system to enhance and improve the archival, assessment, creation, deletion, storage or use of information in the operations of the enterprise. If you have a formal structure for information security governance, you can rest assured that your precious data will be protected, kept at a high quality and always ready to be leveraged throughout the information life cycle.

While you may have a basic information integration system that manages various records and documents, chances are you could benefit from a more formal set of controls, policies, procedures, processes and structures that address every aspect of your data during its entire life cycle. A truly successful information governance system will address issues such as electronic discovery requirements, metadata management, privacy aspects, storage optimization and more.

What Should I Do Next?

Managing and making the most of large sets of data can be overwhelming, and many businesses do not have the resources within their current staff or the budget to hire new employees for the purpose of creating and maintaining an IG system. Fortunately, there are agencies and consultants who specialize in the integration and governance of business data, so you don’t have to manage and protect your company’s precious information alone.

While there are many definitions of IG depending on whom you talk to, one thing is certain. Whatever business you’re in, however long you’ve been in business and however large or small your enterprise is, you need to manage your digital information carefully. In this day and age, information is the lifeblood of most businesses, and if it isn’t managed properly, the business’ health is sure to plummet.

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