How master data management & data governance can empower businesses

By John Gillon, Senior Business Solutions Manager at SAS

As the digital landscape evolves and expands, consumers and businesses are creating more and more data, data which varies in complexity, size and volume. All of this data can be leveraged by businesses to deliver actionable insight, but the biggest challenge for businesses is consolidating, processing and managing that data effectively.

The acquisition of data is rarely the issue - most businesses have some form of analytics in place to capture data across the various touch points - it's driving that data to a single point where all platforms come together that presents the challenge. Organisations that can overcome these barriers and achieve robust master data management and data governance can analyse data with enterprise-wide visibility, as well as gain actionable insights to guide future strategies, all whilst keeping data secure and adhering to the latest data protection laws. But what steps do they need to take to achieve this?

Typical Barriers to Master Data Management and Data Governance

Internal data silos have long been an issue for enterprise organisations. These organisations typically have comprehensive IT infrastructures which have grown in a piecemeal fashion over the years.

Many applications implemented by these organisations are created in a virtual vacuum and engineered to support functional requirements for a specific business unit without considering if there is any operational overlap elsewhere within the organisation.

The result is that while the necessary tools and IT infrastructure to capture, monitor and analyse data from specific lines of business have been adopted – leveraging that data to drive business decisions is increasingly difficult. From a reporting and compliance perspective, there are also a number of challenges. Disparate solutions capturing, managing and processing different types of data across the enterprise presents a number of risks. These solutions may not necessarily be secure, they may not necessarily capture data accurately and, subsequently, obtaining a single version of truth across the enterprise is impossible.

In today’s world of data deluge, information architecture must be consistent across the business and data must be consolidated at a central point for operational oversight. Of course, while tools provide the framework for a proper data governance programme (find out more about what data governance is here), a systematic approach to governance – one which is integrated across every data point and processing function – will ensure data quality, consistency and protection.

Accessing the gold in the big data gold mine

Investigators and analysts need an environment where they can easily access multiple pieces of information (which may have previously been isolated) to further their inquiries and reveal patterns of connectivity that cut across disparate data sources. With fast moving inquiries, new information needs to quickly be brought into play – automatically revealing connections with what is already known. For example, using telecommunication, transport and witness account data, investigators should be able to discover links between a victim and a suspect.

A modern investigation software product provides network diagrams so that incident room walls become virtual. Network diagrams should be dynamic and easy to share or duplicate to allow simultaneous, but disparate, streams of investigation and insights to develop. As more information becomes available, workspaces (formerly walls) should update without waiting for an analyst to perform an update. Data formats and views could be adjusted to provide different perspectives. For example, an investigator may develop crucial insight through something as seemingly simple as toggling between network, timeline and map views.

Opening up new investigative policing possibilities

While the basics of good detective work have largely remained the same, the investigational environment has changed immeasurably in the past decade. At one time – for the majority of inquiries – interviewing the witnesses and suspects, together with any available forensics, would have exhausted the investigative opportunities. This is no longer the case. The almost unimaginable amount of data we all generate in our daily lives is there to be used by investigators, and any failure to do so on their part will almost certainly attract criticism when things go awry.

We expect our law enforcement and security agencies to adjust and be effective in the modern world – and they now have modern tools to do so.

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