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Data Governance: Get Your Data in Line With Columbia Advisory Group

In our modern digital world, data is like gold. It helps organizations make smarter business decisions, improve how they work, and better understand their customers. But as we gather more and more data, it’s vital to have a good plan in place to manage it. That’s where data governance comes in. It’s all about making sure your data is available, useful, accurate, and safe. This involves making clear who does what, setting up rules and processes, and making sure your data is high quality and secure. Let’s look at why data governance is so important. 

Why Bother With Data Governance?

Better Data Quality 

One big win from data governance is that it helps you get better data. When you manage your data well, it’s easier to make sure your data is accurate, consistent, and up to date. This means you can make decisions based on data you can trust.

Improved Data Security

Data security is getting more important every day, especially with the rise of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Data governance helps you protect your data by setting up rules about who can do what, putting in processes for using data, and setting up measures to keep data safe from unauthorized access or theft. By having a good data governance plan, you can lower the risk of data breaches and keep sensitive information safe.

Data is Available When Needed

Data governance also makes sure that data is easy to get to for those who need it. When you manage your data well, it’s easier to look after, which means it’s there when you need it. This helps improve decision-making and efficiency, as staff can get the information they need faster.

Stay on the Right Side of the Law

Lastly, data governance helps you comply with data protection laws, like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). These laws require strong data protection measures, and by using data governance, you can make sure you’re following these laws and avoid any expensive fines.

How Columbia Advisory Group gets it Right 

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) knows how important data governance is and has put a great strategy in place to make sure its data is high quality, secure, and available when needed. We’ve made a plan that lays out who does what and provides guidelines for using data. This makes sure the data they use is accurate, consistent, and safe.  CAG has also used technology to help manage and look after their data. We use data management and analytics platforms, as well as security solutions that protect their data from unauthorized access or theft. By using these tools, CAG makes sure their data is managed in a way that’s effective and efficient. So, why not check us out and get your data in line?

Tim Taylor

Practice Lead

About Columbia Advisory Group

Founded in Dallas in 2012, Columbia Advisory Group LLC (CAG) is an established IT consulting firm renowned for delivering cost-effective, meaningful, and practical IT solutions that solve complex business problems. Our seasoned teams offer comprehensive insight across diverse regulatory and economic environments, providing unbiased, straightforward analysis and recommendations. We pride ourselves on our deep understanding of IT while remaining software and hardware-agnostic. Regardless of your organization’s growth trajectory or economic landscape, we at CAG are adept at adapting to your unique needs and complexity, offering tailored solutions to drive your success.

Contact us at info@columbiaadvisory.com.

My Data is a Mess

It just happens, the nature of the beast, inherent in its nature, and dangerous if misused. I’m talking about Data Sprawl inside your organization.  Who’s to blame? No one. It happens and gets worse over time, and data sprawl occurs with the best of intentions. 

Your organization’s data gets pulled into so many directions, dumped in silos, manipulated by dozens of departmental perspectives, and driven by departmental budgets and projects. Gaining control of your organization’s data is difficult at best. Organizations and management spend countless dollars and lost time interrogating the data until it confesses.

Uncontrolled speed, competition, disruptive technologies (AI, Machine Learning,…) , new business models, and evolving customer experiences continually force established businesses to remain relevant, adopt or adapt. The ecosystem is an unfriendly place. Insight, predictability, intelligence reports, and decisions need great data in a timely manner to remain relevant.

Managing data and information within an organization must be an orchestrated activity between IT and the business units. The pitfalls and internal tensions of objectivity, unbiased perspectives, collaboration, expertise, and access need to be overcome. Not an easy task for an internal department or department. 

Just start. Begin by creating a good data strategy and governance program, a PLAN. A good plan requires 3 fundamentals: Executive Support, and Timeline and Funding. Orchestration of the plan often requires external expertise and consulting to address the pitfalls and internal tensions.

It pays for itself in the lost time trying to interrogate the data alone. Allocating good money to secure sprawling data silos that provide poor data. Allocating energy toward a good data strategy is energy well spent.

Building a successful data strategy requires a deep understanding of technology, business objectives, and data governance. Consulting partners can provide you with the expertise, objectivity, collaboration, and cost savings you need to build a data strategy that works. If you want to gain a competitive edge and drive innovation, consider working with a consulting firm to help you develop your data strategy.

Tim Taylor

ITSM Director

About Columbia Advisory Group

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at info@columbiaadvisory.com.

Remaining Relevant in Higher Education Depends on a Digital Strategy

A primary business goal is to “Remain relevant, to stay in business.” Over the past decade, technology use in postsecondary education has increased significantly, driven by factors such as the growth of online and blended learning, the adoption of understanding management systems (LMS), the use of mobile devices and apps, and the integration of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.  

According to Education Data Initiative, college enrollment peaked in 2010, and the statistics indicate enrollment has declined nationally by 9.6% by 2020. (Source: Education Data Initiative - https://tinyurl.com/y3rc84xt)

Digital Technology is a fundamental pathway for Higher Education organizations to remain relevant, make informed decisions about programs, bring about strategic decisions, and allocate resources effectively. However, pre-pandemic strategies and tactics still suffocate many institutional structures and governance models.

For several years, Educause has listed IT strategy, governance, and funding in its top 10 issues. Educause stated “Ensuring IT leadership is a full partner in institutional strategic planning” as its top issue for 2023 (Educause Top 10 IT Issues, 2023: Foundation Models). Further, “Digital capabilities have become a key success factor for colleges and universities.”

The recent pandemic heightened the importance of remote/online learning, prompting many institutions to scramble to enhance their supporting technology. (Source: Inside Higher Ed - https://tinyurl.com/j8kcntn2)

 

As a technology leader, I consistently review business strategy plans within the Higher Education sector. A common thread among these strategies is the emphasis on growing student enrollment. However, I’ve noticed that many of these plans do not explicitly include a robust digital technology infrastructure to support these ambitious objectives. This oversight presents a significant challenge, especially when institutions face constraints such as limited or declining student populations, regional boundaries, or cost barriers.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the number of postsecondary eligible 18-year-olds will decrease starting in 2025, increasing competition for enrollment. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau - https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/school-enrollment-projected.html)

The future of higher education will need to look at technology as an enabler, as a “full partner in institutional strategic planning,” rather than a black hole for expenses. Transforming the organization requires a fundamental shift in Digital Governance from the top down. 

Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Shadow technology groups outside of IT abound in Higher Education. Spending on new technologies outside of IT without cost rationalization or metrics on benefits erodes the available budget. Often these expenditures, whether impactful or not, continue. Budgets come under increasing pressure without a regular cross-department spending analysis.

Higher Education IT Departments tend to be highly reactive (justify improvements per incident), change only when an audit is failed, have just enough funding to keep the lights on, and can’t say “NO” to technology requests. CapEx spending by projects often contributes to the bloating year-over-year OpEX expenditures. Every CapEx expenditure has associated, ongoing OpEx costs to support the IT Services Portfolio. IT is tactically fighting the battles as best they can, without a clear strategy to guide them or prioritize.  

Chaos does not scale…well.

Can your organization, not just IT, explain its digital strategy clearly, and provide evidence of investments toward modernizing its digital ecosystem to match the 5-10 strategic plans?

A good (not perfect) digital strategic plan is needed. Oversimplified, a good plan needs three things:

    • Unwavering Executive support and alignment across the senior executive leadership.
    • An achievable timeline.
    • Dedicated, rationalized funding and associated benefits.

Missing any one of these and it’s considered a poor plan. A good strategic plan coupled with an excellent tactical plan is the key to winning the battle. Simply put, if your organization does not have a digital strategy created by a technology governance function aligned with the organization’s strategy, your ability to remain relevant will reach a tipping point. In The Art of War”, military strategist Sun Tzu stated, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

What Can We Do?

There isn’t a single solution, but there is a path to position the organization for a higher opportunity of success.

  • Make the senior IT person (CIO, CTO, etc.) a full partner in strategic planning, not just a subordinate capability.
  • Leverage ISO38500 “Information technology (IT) — Governance of IT for the organization.”
    This standard provides guiding principles for members of governing bodies of organizations on the effective, efficient, and acceptable use of information technology within their organizations. This international standard is intended to facilitate an organization’s digital strategy governance.
  • Establish at the highest level an IT Steering committee or Technology Advisory board.
    A steering committee with broad representation with a charter to serve the organization, not just independent interests, which address:
    • Technology Service Portfolio management
    • Financial management
    • Demand Management
    • Risk Management
  • Conduct an Executive Business Technology Agenda Workshop.
    Understand IT delivery models and establish guiding principles and drivers that are the rationale for the Business, Functional, Technical, and Implementation goals and plans.
  • Create a service-centric IT organization.
    Everything IT does is a Service. This doesn’t mean any request but an intentional, strategic set of services and processes. Retire digital offerings that don’t provide a critical or strategic advantage or value proposition.

When is the best time to plant a tree?

This has the same answer as “When should we start?

10 years ago. 

When ITs customers complain about IT, it’s usually not about the technology but the organization’s governance and processes. Good leadership, strategy, processes, and people enable an organization to:

  • Exhibit management control of your environment as you move forward; and
  • Doing the correct things and doing those things correctly

When an institution can manage IT services effectively, it can sharpen its focus, increase its value while reducing cost and increasing margins, and thus remain relevant.

Tim Taylor

Tim Taylor has worked in technology for over 35 years. He has recently focused on the Higher Education vertical. Tim has helped over 60 organizations in multiple industries (Oil/gas, Financial, government, transportation, hospitality, healthcare, etc.) with their IT business challenges, leading numerous IT Service Management assessments, executive workshops, and implementations. He has trained over 2,000 consultants.