Page 20 - GCN, May 2016
P. 20

Data is the currency of the modern world, so you must protect it as if it were truly currency.
WHEN YOU THINK of “information” and “security” together, you automatically think of cybersecurity. The increasing need to protect
sensitive data from theft is fueling the industry’s exponential growth, from $75 billion today to a projected $170 billion by 2020. Cybersecurity is to this decade what plastics was to the 1960s.
There’s more to protecting your data than simply keeping it out of the wrong hands. Data is the currency of today. Your data holds potential. There could be information buried within your agency’s data that could change the world—the cure for the Zika virus or the missing piece that will lead to ISIS leaders’ arrest. Even if it’s something more ordinary, information equals value.
Data governance may be far from sexy, but it’s equally as important in protecting and deriving value from your data as its more fashionable cousin cybersecurity.
With so much focus on keeping your information safe from intentional theft and ensuring its integrity, your agency’s ability
to make full use of that data is often stifled. According to a recent survey of Federal decision makers by Market Connections, 65 percent of organizations don’t have an analytics tool in place to consolidate data. The study also found more than half (53 percent) of organizations need to consolidate information from more than one source.
So what are these organizations using in lieu of analytics? The vast majority use Excel and other desktop tools. This trend is concerning for three reasons:
 the lack of protection around the data
 the manual staff hours required to compile the data
 the subsequent inability to see the whole
story within the data
The result is agencies are using incomplete
and inaccurate data to make decisions. Instead of analyzing information, agencies are spending countless hours manually compiling the data. According to the Market Connections study, the more data sources an organization uses, the more manual staff hours are required.
Of even greater concern is that after spending all that effort compiling the various data sources, the data now resides in a format that is prone to errors, has no inherent security and can be easily manipulated. If ten people from the same agency come to a budget meeting, they’ll likely have ten different versions of the current spend.
With data volumes growing exponentially and organizations regularly collecting billions of data records from multiple sources, the negative effects of using spreadsheets to manage the agency are magnifying.
The increased influx of data could mean
a bigger burden on IT—but it doesn’t have to. Imagine if your users were empowered with a governed data library that provided the freedom to explore the information they needed without the risk of data leakage or dumps into Excel? These technologies exist today.
Buried within your data are countless answers. There are likely answers to
questions you haven’t even yet thought to ask. To ensure the intrinsic value of that data is maintained, it’s critical to compile, analyze and visualize your data with tools that protect your information through a data governance process that delivers the right information to the right people. In the end, the entire agency must be making great decisions based on timely, accurate information.
Monica McEwen is the Public Sector Director, Qlik.

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