Building a Foundation for Information Governance

The importance of documenting business terms and policies

Portfolio Marketing Manager, Information Integration & Governance, IBM

The most important business requirement for organizations today is the ability to completely understand and trust their information. For instance, a financial analyst looking at loan applications for prospective borrowers needs to know exactly what “mortgage risk” means: the approved definition of risk, acceptable levels of risk, the business rules that are associated with high-risk and low-risk clients, and where a specific prospect falls on that scale. If the analyst understands this information and trusts that the data in their applications is aligned with the same business rules and definitions, she can make sound approval decisions quickly and confidently.

Unfortunately, in most organizations, business analysts and data analysts often find multiple definitions for a given business term. Even worse, all of those definitions may be correct, depending on context and usage. For example, “mortgage risk” is a completely different concept for existing customers and new prospects—the term has a completely different definitions and related business processes in each case.

These problems compound as information volume, variety, and velocity increase. Organizations need to govern their data to ensure that information is trustworthy and useful. To do this, they must put in place accurate data definitions that the organization as a whole can use to better understand information. However, creating accurate definitions can be a significant challenge in large organizations. Information and insight into the meaning and content of that information is often siloed and dispersed.

IBM InfoSphere Business Information Exchange offers a solution to this problem. Integrated with IBM InfoSphere Information Server metadata, InfoSphere Business Information Exchange enables organizations to create and then link business terms to technical artifacts. Key features include:

  • Web-based management of business terms, definitions, and categories enable the creation of an authoritative and common business vocabulary for technical and business users
  • Integration with InfoSphere Information Server metadata helps ensure that technical and business information is always connected and consistent
  • Security permissions help protect sensitive business terms and definitions from unauthorized users
  • Customizable features and attributes enable business users to define unique parameters for their specific organization and business environment
  • Collaborative environment and feedback mechanisms encourage organic growth and allow different glossary users to jointly develop or improve the glossary content
  • Powerful glossary import and export capabilities enable administrators to combine existing fragmented and home-grown glossaries into a single enterprise glossary for use by a wider business audience
  • Data stewardship empowers ownership of business term integrity and its governance
  • An easy-to-use web interface simplifies linkage of terms to create policies that govern information objects
  • Metadata lineage is captured and maintained so that information contained in reports and applications can be easily traced backed to original sources for validation (a critical step for meeting compliance requirements of regulations such as Basel II and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act)
  • Globalization and translation support for simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese allows customers around the world to use InfoSphere Business Information Exchange in their native language

To make matters even simpler for businesses that are implementing a data governance and business glossary solution, IBM provides packaged business terms and definitions for six major industry verticals: banking, financial services, retail, telecommunications, healthcare and insurance. These content offerings help accelerate the implementation and deployment of your business glossary by immediately providing rich, industry- specific business terms and definitions.

Successful businesses depend on trusted information. InfoSphere Business Information Exchange helps organizations build and maintain a strong data governance and stewardship program that can turn data into trusted information. It allows business users to play an active role in information-centric projects and collaborate with their technical teams—without the need for technical training. Decisions are more accurate and business opportunities are more readily captured. The end result: an organization with a consistent understanding of information, what it means, how it is used, and why it can be trusted.

Does your company have a data governance solution in place? How has it changed your business? Let me know about your experiences in the comments.