Importance of Data Compliance and Governance

With the rise of always-on connectivity, the ever-growing importance of data has seen organisations shift focus as they seek to strengthen their data strategy and mitigate business risk through data compliance and governance.

The author of this page: Conall O'Kane
Conall O'Kane, Practice Manager - Modern Workplace Jun 24, 2022

A valuable business asset, knowledge in the form of data certainly delivers power, helping both disruptors and market leaders to drive more accurate market predictions and optimise communications through enhanced personalisation. Companies with an eye to the future must take advantage of the rich data available if they wish to succeed in today's highly competitive business landscape, with a coherent data strategy essential for success.

Two cornerstones of an effective data strategy are compliance and data governance.

Data Compliance

As the demand for data continues to rise, governments and industry regulators have come under increasing public pressure to ensure greater transparency and security when it comes to the collection and processing of sensitive data. Data compliance is the practice of organisations ensuring that all sensitive data is managed and organised in a way that enables them to meet not only their business rules but also legal and governmental regulations. In addition, data compliance requires organisations to carefully track what kind of and how much data is stored and crucially how data stored is managed throughout its lifecycle, a challenge made all the more difficult by ever-expanding data estates and the rise of dark data (data organisations collect, process and store during regular business activities, that often goes unused).

While there are a wide range of industry and location-specific regulations revolving around data security and privacy at this point, many of which have a high cost of non-compliance (including HIPAA, GDPR and PCI-DSS), the benefits of including data compliance in your data strategy go beyond risk management with such benefits including:

Enhanced Data Management: With a focus on minimising the amount of data collected and held, data compliance enables your organisation to organise data storage in a better way which ultimately improves your organisation's ability to harness the business value in your data.

Strengthen Loyalty & Trust: As public sensitivity continues to rise with regards to how their personal data is processed, compliance with regulations can help your organisation build and maintain trust and relationships with not only your customers but also with partners, employees and the general public.

Data Governance

While data compliance focuses on the management of sensitive data, data governance looks at creating an environment where data can be used effectively to enhance business operations. While the volume of data generated continues to rise exponentially many organisations remain behind the curve when it comes to the effective utilisation of data captured, with cross-industry studies showing that on average less than 50% of an organisation's structured data is actively used in decision making - and less than 1% of unstructured data is analysed or even used at all.

Without a strong data governance strategy, organisational data fails to meet regulations and the quality standards needed to extract usable insights while also being exposed to security threats that could compromise its integrity and place the business at risk of being in breach of the set standards. Employing data governance best practices can not only strengthen compliance but also deliver:

Increased Business Agility: With data consistency and quality cornerstones of data governance, decision-making can be accelerated through the use of modern technologies and real-time reporting. By reducing the time from data to insight organisations can respond to market shifts in real-time.

Improved Stakeholder Confidence: Without an effective data governance strategy inconsistencies across business systems can complicate data integration and create data integrity issues when working across departments, eroding stakeholder confidence and causing delays in reporting due to the need to validate and align data across systems.

Reduced Operational Costs: Through the provision of centralised control mechanisms, data governance reduces the cost of data ownership while increasing efficiency by introducing the ability to reuse data and data processes.

The growing need for data strategy development has seen many organisations invest in software to meet their compliance and data protection needs, however, with dozens of products each addressing a piece of the puzzle, a survey of US decision-makers in February 2022 revealed that almost 80% had purchased multiple products to meet their compliance and data-protection needs, with the majority purchasing 3 or more solutions. This fragmentation of systems not only strains resources but is also ineffective.

In a bid to meet the challenges of today's decentralised, data-rich workplaces, Microsoft has introduced Microsoft Purview a comprehensive set of solutions designed to help you govern, protect and manage your entire data estate. Combining the capabilities of the former Azure Purview and the Microsoft 365 Compliance portfolio to help you gain visibility into assets across your entire data estate.

To find out how MS Purview can help your organisations enhance data compliance and governance, schedule a call with one of our solution specialists today.

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