Storing all that information in the cloud might be a smart idea for saving money and protecting against disasters. But for businesses, wherever there’s data, there needs to be data stewardship. In other words, there must be the right management and supervision. This is to make sure that the information remains of high quality, and that it can be readily accessed in a consistent way by authorized users. Yes, the IT department may have had the bright idea about using the cloud in the first place. But the right person to be a data steward (with the responsibilities listed above) isn’t necessarily an IT person. It’s above all someone in the organization who can be an effective link between IT side and the business side.
Profile and Challenges for a Data Steward
When you think how much enterprises rely on their data and their data processing today to get things done, you can readily understand the importance of good data stewardship. For some, the starting point is the creation of one or more official data steward positions. In these cases, the tendency is to fill the position with someone from the business side of the organization. An alternative is to redefine an existing role to add responsibilities for tracking data and checking that company rules on the matter are being followed. The fundamentals are similar to non-cloud data situations. With data in the cloud however, important practical details change as data can move between local servers and cloud storage, and users can require access from mobile as well as desktop devices.
Five Ways to Figure It Out
There are five different data stewardship approaches that businesses can take.
- Split responsibility for managing data by subject area. The areas might be client data, product data, asset data and so on. This assumes that there is seamless management possible between cloud data storage and processing, and local activities.
- Assign responsibility by department or business unit. This can make stewardship clear cut, but increases a risk of information silos, where departments don’t communicate properly between each other.
- Organize by business process. Requires some thought, but managing and monitoring data assets like this can make a lot of sense. Many enterprises and organizations are built around well-defined business processes.
- Sort it out according to application. Also leads to clear cut responsibilities. However, this may suffer the double disadvantage of creating information silos and also running a business according to its IT, when it’s the IT that should be run according to the business.
- Data stewardship by project. Somewhat similar to the process-oriented approach, this may make sense for heavily project oriented operations (construction or engineering, for instance)
More Cloud? More Data Stewardship!
Whichever approach fits best, one thing is clear. The more an organization uses the cloud, the more it needs to pay attention to increased data stewardship. Information is an asset, is valuable, and needs to be leveraged for advantage. With data in the cloud, some of those assets have moved outside the perimeter of the organization. That in turn means that data management and monitoring needs to be that much better to ensure data quality, consistency and user access all remain up to the required standards.