Year End Review

By Daragh O Brien
December 13, 2013
17min read

It is that time of year again when companies write their end of year reviews, looking back at successes and getting all misty eyed about what the future will hold.

Not here at Castlebridge Towers. Here we celebrate the end of one year and look forward to the next by working through the pile of reading materials we’ve set aside to help sharpen our brains for the coming challenges. After all, recent developments mean that Privacy is the “Word of the Year” for 2013 and is being touted as a key source of competitive advantage for firms in 2014. Even the United Nations has gotten in on the act.

Recent EU legal actions suggest a seismic shift brewing with regard to the Governance of Personal, Sensitive, and the newly coined “Special” data that organisation hold. The shift will be towards more appropriate and legally enforceable governance of data. But that shift means that the internal “legislation” and controls that organisations apply will need to evolve. And rather quickly.

At the risk of annoying people, I personally believe that Privacy is just another component or characteristic of Quality in Information management. The societal standards and expectations of privacy are the expectations that organisations (and governments) are expected to meet or exceed in their processing of personal and other data. Data Protection and Privacy laws are simply the societal mechanism whereby those requirements are expressed, with a penalty (in theory) for breaching them. Quality information is a product of a well defined and well run Information Factory. The processes for ensuring that the information factory is well defined and well run are what we call Data Governance.

This is basically the theme of my chapter in the forthcoming IGI-Global publication Information Quality and Governance for Business Intelligence. The historic legacy silo paradigm that sees Privacy, Governance, Quality, and Technology management relating to Information as separate disciplines must begin to erode. And the dinosaur view that Data Protection compliance is the preserve of or role of the lawyers in an organisation must also begin to crumble in this new world.

Christmas Reading

It has been a tradition of mine for many years (starting in University when I had semesterised exams and I spent my Christmas holidays furiously trying to learn an entire semester of material that I’d barely turned up to hear) to devote some time over the Christmas Holidays to reading new or re-reading old books that inspire, educate, or inform. It is a practice I try to encourage in my team, my co-workers, and my network of Associates (to varying degrees of success). This year I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’m going to be reading.

  • Total Information Risk Management: Maximizing the Value of Data and Information Assets
    This is an incredible book that has the potential to shake things up. Scanning some of the pre-production chapters I was pleased to see some of the practices I’d stumbled into in my work being validated by academic research, so I’m looking forward to finding other gems here!
  • Information Quality and Governance for Business Intelligence
    I was honoured to be asked to contribute a chapter to this book. There looks like an incredible amount of cutting edge research in the fields of Information Quality and Information Governance here. My challenge – synthesising the research world in to practical and applicable stuff for the real world. Also… the book hasn’t arrived yet
  • Data Governance: How to Design, Deploy and Sustain an Effective Data Governance Program
    This is mandatory reading for my consultants. I’m going to be re-reading it because over the course of a number of engagements this year there were lightbulb moments and I want to figure out if it was my lightbulb or Ladley’s. Because if it was his I’ll need to credit him in the reports to clients.
  • Business unIntelligence: Insight and Innovation beyond Analytics and Big Data
    One of the pioneers of the Data Warehouse concept is Irish. This is his latest book, a brilliantly amusing run through the history of BI and the position we find ourselves in today. There is one chapter I glanced at yesterday which I will be referring to in detail for a project. This is yet another incredible contribution by Barry to the field. Will probably take a whole box of chocolates to get through.
  • The Essential Deming: Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality
    Deming was a visionary. While challenging, his principles and practices ring true today and are as relevant for education and service industries as they are for manufacturing. This book is a collection of previously unpublished material compiled by Joyce Orsini and Deming’s heirs. I picked it up during the week and am looking forward to flicking through it. It’s not a new book, but it is a new book for me. Read about it here, and here’s a link to a great podcast with Joyce Orsini and Kevin Cahill (Deming’s grandson).

2013 saw one of the pioneers of Information Quality finally decide to hang up his hat. Larry P. English was a friend, mentor, and teacher to me personally. While I didn’t always agree with him, I could never say he was wrong. Just approaching things from a different perspective. Larry introduced me to the works of Deming and Juran and was my gateway into the network of contacts I have today in the international Information Quality, Data Governance, and Information management worlds. Larry’s books are a bit like a puppy – not just for Christmas. I’ll probably skim through Information Quality Applied: Best Practices for Improving Business Information, Processes and Systems: Best Practices for Improving Business Processes, Systems, and Information again if I get a chance, just to remind myself of Larry’s thought leadership (albeit at times very dogmatic thought leadership).

Why no Privacy Books or Data Protection Books?

Short answer: those books are all going to have to be rewritten. We will need to return to some basic first principles of Quality Management thinking, putting the customer first and defining privacy from the perspective of the Data Subject and figuring out how to strike the right balances and achieve the right outcomes.

So I’m going back to some basic core principles books (with a bit of future perspective from Dr. Devlin).

What are you going to be doing to sharpen your brain for the Privacy and Governance challenges of 2014 and beyond?

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