Tower Defense titles are the top selling category of games for Apple’s iOS platform. These games set the player on a map where their goal is to stop opponents from reaching a specific point on the map by building a variety of towers that stop opponents from entering a protected area. Most typically in these games, the opponents have varied abilities and rewards for stopping them, which then allow the player to upgrade their towers in order to make them stronger and more effective against their opponents. When talked about in the industry, most often you will hear of active governance referred to as a firewall for your data. The problems with firewalls are that they are typically visualized as a monolithic, unchanging separation between the data and the system. When I think of the business process of active governance, I prefer a Tower Defense metaphor as it more closely relates to the twists and turns data takes through its journey into the systems of record. The metaphor also speaks to the constant upgrading, tweaking, and refining that is inherit in any effective active governance implementation.
When thinking about the business processes of information governance it is perhaps the active data governance business processes that most closely fit the traditional thinking around what it takes to design, model, and deploy traditional business processes around an organization. These parallels are most closely drawn due to a foundational element of active governance: there is no active data governance without process governance. Active governance business processes govern the collection, entry, and modification of data and tracks who is performing those activities, and how those activates are being performed over time. This level of visibility provides not only insight to the business process, but it also gives leaders the ability to materially impact the processes to meet the needs of he business.
Going back to the Tower Defense metaphor, as more opponents stream through the map they get more and more difficult to defeat. Their armor is stronger, they go faster, and can sometimes even fight back. As more and more data elements and people get involved in the active governance processes, the ability to control the quality of the data as well as high quality process execution becomes more difficult. To combat this complexity, high quality active governance processes need to be highly adaptable to change and must continuously improve. With the high levels of visibility and accountability inherit in active governance business processes, areas for improvement are easily identifiable and naturally lead to the instinct to refine these processes to make them more efficient. This inclination should be embraced, as a culture of continuous improvement will lead to ever increasing value being derived from active governance business processes.
Data often takes a circuitous path to get into systems with divergences and false starts along the way. Having the proper series of defenses in place, through active governance business processes, prevents invalid, irrelevant, non-business ready data from ever reaching the systems of record on which an organization runs their business.
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