The burden of information accountability

Governance. Trust. Credibility. Integrity. Information accountability is a hot topic: Business people today are under increasing pressure to make the right decisions, fast?or else face increasingly dramatic consequences. Unfortunately, they often lack confidence in the information provided to them by their corporate information systems. To remedy this, IT organizations need to implement an information accountability framework that combines a unified approach to data integration and business intelligence.

A number of trends focused on corporate data continue to distract today?s IT departments. Shareholders are clamoring for more transparency as a result of the financial scandals that have shaken confidence in corporate governance around the world. Compliance legislation such as the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act whose impact is reaching far beyond the US- can result in jail sentences for executives who - even unintentionally - report erroneous information. New privacy laws around the world restrict the use of customer information. Increasing global competition has put pressure on organizations to use their expensive information assets more strategically. All these issues can be summed up in a single concept: ?information accountability.? Simply accessing data is no longer enough. Today?s CEOs, CFOs, and knowledge workers must be able to reliably track the information they use for decisions back to the original source systems in order to ensure its timeliness, accuracy, and credibility. Over the last decade, organizations have invested millions of dollars in systems to collect, store, and distribute information more effectively. Despite this, information users at all levels of the organization are often uncomfortable with the quality, reliability, and transparency of the information they receive. Today?s organizations rarely have a ?single view of the truth.? Executives waste time in meetings debating whose figures are correct, rather than what to do about the company?s issues. And they worry about the consequences of making strategic decisions using the wrong information, directly impacting the long-term survival of the organization. A recent study carried out by Business Week showed that over half of business users said they found it ?difficult? or ?very difficult? to get the information they need. And even when information was available, 43 percent of business users indicated they didn?t trust their internal systems. So it?s perhaps no surprise that 77 percent of them said bad decisions had been made because of a lack of information. To address these issues, organizations need to put in place an information accountability framework that relies on three different sets of processes: Information quality - The processes that ensure that information is filtered, aggregated, and entered into the system without errors. Information controls - The processes that determine that the right people access the right information, that legal and privacy restrictions are respected, and that changes are correctly propagated through the system. Information interpretation - The processes that ensure information can be used for decision making: that terms are consistent across the organization and that users of information can track how and when the data was collected or calculated. Source and full article: businessintelligence.ittoolbox.coma>