Selling Information Governance to the Business

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Learn how to tackle the challenges of poor data quality, inconsistency of business terms, fragmented view of the customer and product, and security and privacy.


Editor's note: This article is an excerpt from the book Selling Information Governance to the Business: Best Practices by Industry and Job Function, published by MC Press.


According to the IBM 2009 Global CIO Study, today's CIOs spend an impressive 55 percent of their time on activities that spur innovation. These activities include generating buy-in for innovative plans, implementing new technologies, and managing nontechnological business issues. CIOs spend the remaining 45 percent of their time on essential, more traditional tasks related to managing the ongoing technology environment. This includes reducing IT costs, mitigating enterprise risks, and leveraging automation to lower costs elsewhere in the business.


IT is a key stakeholder in the entire information governance program because it is normally the custodian of the data repositories. In addition, IT is the business sponsor for information governance in situations that are generally associated with IT cost savings. Across the entire sample in the IBM 2009 Global CIO Study, CIOs spend about 14 percent of their time removing costs from the technology environment. One of the top management priorities cited by a banking CIO was to "position the IT organization to handle increased activity with minimal additional cost." Simply put, CIOs aspire to do more with less. A retail CIO in the United States described the dual challenge, "The balance between new projects and cost control is the dichotomy of my life."


Here are the best practices to sell information governance internally, within IT operations:


  1. Engage with the vice president of applications to retire legacy applications while retaining access to the underlying data.
  2. Work with the vice president of applications to reduce storage costs through an archiving strategy.
  3. Ensure trusted data when consolidating applications, data warehouses, data marts, and operational data stores.
  4. Support the vice president of testing by automating the creation of test data sets.
  5. Work with the enterprise architecture team to enforce consistent information-architecture standards.


These best practices are discussed in detail in this chapter.


1.  Engage with the VP of Applications to Retire Legacy Applications but Retain Access to Underlying Data

In a 2010 study, IT industry analyst IDC predicted that information volumes would increase by a factor of 44 over the next decade. Most large IT shops have legacy applications that are no longer in use but consume a significant portion of the IT budget. For a variety of legal and regulatory reasons, the business might need access to the underlying data but not the application itself. For example, there might be "legal holds," or regulations that require the retention of certain data sets.


IT can establish significant cost savings by retiring the legacy applications while retaining access to the underlying data. The key technical challenge is to be able to provide the data on demand, which requires the ability to maintain the referential integrity of the data.

2.  Work with the VP of Applications to Reduce Storage Costs Through an Archiving Strategy 

Gaining a complete understanding of which areas are accumulating the most information allows an organization to apply the most effective information lifecycle governance strategy. Data duplication has significantly contributed to growth statistics. Organizations frequently clone or copy production databases to support other functions, or for application development and testing. They also maintain several backup copies of critical data or implement mirrored databases to protect against data loss. Finally, disaster recovery plans require data duplication, to store critical data in an alternate location. All of this duplication has created what is known as the "data multiplier effect."


As data is duplicated, storage and maintenance costs increase proportionally. Figure 14.1 provides an example of a production database that contains one terabyte of data. When that database is copied for backup, disaster recovery, development, testing, and user acceptance, the total data burden increases to six terabytes.



Figure 14.1: The actual data burden equals the size of the production database and all replicated clones. (Click image to enlarge.)


You cannot govern data if you do not understand it, so it is critical that you first document your existing data landscape, using data discovery. Data discovery analyzes data values and patterns to identify the relationships that link disparate data elements into logical units of information, or business objects, such as customer, patient, and invoice. These business objects provide essential input for archiving. Without an automated process to identify data relationships and define business objects, organizations can spend months performing manual analysis, with no assurance of completeness or accuracy.


From an information governance perspective, an organization needs to archive both structured and unstructured content to reduce storage costs, improve system performance, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. In particular, unstructured content in the form of emails and other documents makes up more than 80 percent of the content in a typical enterprise. This content needs to be archived to reduce storage costs.


Storing archived data according to its business value is a logical component of an integrated data management strategy. A three-tier classification strategy is a useful way to approach the problem. Current transactions are maintained in high-speed, primary storage. Reporting data is relocated to mid-tier storage. Reference data is retained on a secure Write Once, Read Many (WORM) device, keeping it available in case an audit request should arise. This approach to a tiered storage and archiving strategy is a good way to reduce costs and maximize business value, as discussed in Case Study 14.1.


Case Study 14.1: Managing data growth at a large telecommunications operator

A large telecommunications operator was struggling with the storage costs associated with large amounts of data, including Call Detail Records (CDRs). The telecommunications operator had nearly 16 terabytes of data in one production environment, and six database clones for disaster recovery, backup, and pre-production environments. The operator needed to fund additional mainframe computing capacity every year to upgrade performance.


The information governance team established a business case that articulated significant cost savings by archiving data to lower-cost storage environments. Important questions to the business included "How many months of data do we need to maintain in production systems?" Because of the initiative, the operator was able to reduce storage costs dramatically. The business benefits are highlighted in Table 14.1.



Table 14.1: The Sanitized Business Benefits from an Archiving Solution at a Large Telecommunications Operator

A.    Size of the production database in gigabytes


B.    Number of database copies for disaster recovery, backup, and performance testing


C.    Annual cost of storage per gigabyte


D.    Current cost of storage ((B + 1) x A x C)


E.    Percentage of data that can be archived


F.    Post-archiving storage cost savings (D x E)


G.    Three-year storage cost savings (F x 3)


3.  Ensure Trusted Data when Consolidating Applications, Data Warehouses, Data Marts, and Data Stores

Most large IT departments have multiple, overlapping applications, data warehouses, data marts, and operational data stores that are enormously expensive to maintain. One large bank saved hundreds of millions of dollars by consolidating eight customer information files (CIFs) into one. Another bank had 10 CIFs, each with five or more copies, several of which were built in COBOL. It cost the bank tens of millions of dollars to maintain this unwieldy system. The information governance program was driven by a strong desire to cut costs, especially when a seemingly straightforward project to implement "powers of attorney" cost several millions of dollars because the same functionality had to be re-implemented within each CIF.


When organizations embark on multi-year, multi-million dollar enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations, they believe that the business benefits delivered by ERP solutions will far outweigh the costs of implementation. Empirical evidence shows that approximately 40 percent of the cost of an ERP implementation is around data integration. Sound information governance will ensure that not only is "the data loaded correctly," but also the "correct data is loaded correctly" into the ERP application. When an organization migrates to new ERP applications, the information governance program needs to ensure that data within the source systems is understood, cleansed, transformed, and delivered to the ERP system.


Table 14.2 provides a sanitized version of the business benefits associated with improving the quality of data as part of an SAP rollout. The SAP project will achieve limited savings during the initial rollout due to the upfront cost associated with adopting a new approach. However, the project will produce substantial benefits in subsequent rollouts, with the adoption of a data integration center of excellence. In addition, the business benefits shown do not reflect soft savings associated with improved decision-making based on better data quality.


Table 14.2: The Sanitized Business Benefits from Improved Data Quality as Part of an SAP Rollout


As-Is Approach

To-Be Approach with Focus on Data Quality

Hard Savings

A.   Number of hours for rollout 1




B.   Number of hours for rollout 2




C.   Number of hours for rollout 3




D.   Total number of hours (A + B + C)




E.   Labor cost per hour




F.   Total labor costs (D x E)




4.  Support the VP of Testing by Automating the Creation of Test Data Sets

The creation of realistic test data sets can add significant extra time to projects. For example, a large organization added several months to its project timeline to create thousands of realistic customer data sets for testing. According to the white paper "Enterprise Strategies to Improve Application Testing" (IBM, April 2008), it is typically impractical to clone an entire production database, made up of hundreds of interrelated tables, just for testing purposes. First, there are the capacity, cost, and time issues with provisioning an entirely new database environment just for testing. Second, there is a quality issue: when working with large test databases, developers might find it difficult to track and validate specific test cases.


Here are some of the requirements for effective test data management:

  • Create realistic data. It is important to create a smaller, realistic subset of data that accurately reflects application production data.
  • Preserve the referential integrity of the test data. The data subsets need to respect the referential integrity rules enforced within the database and the applications. Typically, application-enforced referential integrity is more complex. For example, the application might include relationships that use compatible but not identical data types, composite and partial columns, and data-driven relationships.
  • Force error and boundary conditions. Creating realistic subsets of related test data from a production database is a reasonable start. However, it is sometimes necessary to edit the data to force specific error conditions or to validate specific processing functions.
  • Mask and transform test data. With the increased focus on data privacy, the ability to transform and de-identify sensitive data in the development and testing environments is critical to preventing data breaches and severe penalties.
  • Compare before and after test data. The ability to compare test data before and after successive tests is essential to the overall quality of the application. This process involves the comparison of each test iteration against baseline test data to identify problems that otherwise could go undetected—especially when tests potentially affect hundreds or thousands of tables.


Case Study 14.2 provides an example of a large information services company that dealt with several issues around test data. Table 14.3 highlights the potential business benefits from the case study's solution.


Case Study 14.2: Managing test data at a large information services company

A large information services company was focused on improving productivity, increasing efficiency, and providing high levels of customer service for its corporate clients. The business had a strong focus on cost cutting while protecting confidential client data. However, the IT department found that the testing department was making copies of sensitive data for use in test environments. As a result, IT embarked on a journey to quantify the business benefits associated with a more streamlined test environment. Due to the large volumes of data, IT found that:

  • Right-sizing the test environments would have a significant impact on storage cost savings.
  • Masking the data within pre-production, performance, and test environments would significantly reduce the risk of exposing confidential client information.
  • Automating scripts to mask and populate test data would significantly improve the productivity of the testing team, due to reduced downtime.


In addition to the hard-dollar benefits in Table 14.3, the solution also yielded soft-dollar benefits from improved security and privacy of client data.



Table 14.3: The Sanitized Hard-Dollar Business Benefits from a Test Data Management Solution at a Large Information Services Provider

A.    Size of production database in gigabytes


B.    Number of production environments


C.    Number of test environments with cloned copies of production data


D.    Annual cost of storage per gigabyte


E.    Total annual cost of storage (A x (B + C) x D)


F.    Percentage of production data to be cloned to each test environment


G.    Size of each test data environment in gigabytes (A x F) 


H.    Annual storage in gigabytes after right-sizing the test data environments (A + (C x G))


I.      Future-state cost of storage (H x D)


J.    Potential storage cost savings (E – I)


K.    Number of hours saved on refreshing the test environment per year (4 hours per refresh x 12 refreshes per year x C)


L.    Total number of testers affected by refresh cycles


M.   Potential productivity impact on testing team (K x L)


N.    Cost per hour of a tester


O.    Total impact on testing productivity (M x N)


P.    Annual business benefits from test data management solution (J + O)


Q.    Business benefits over three years from test data management solution (P x 3)


5.  Work with the Enterprise Architecture Team to Enforce Consistent Information Architecture Standards

In some cases, the information governance team might assume responsibility to ensure that the organization observes standards for information architecture. In many organizations, an IT enterprise architecture review board that has sign-off authority for new IT projects might handle IT architecture governance. This board has an important role in driving overall IT efficiency through the enforcement of standards. For example, the standardization of tools is critical as organizations look to reduce license, software maintenance, and support costs. Keep in mind, however, that there is always a natural tension between IT architecture teams that tend to prefer standardization and business units that prefer tactical approaches to address project needs.


IT has a critical role as the custodian of data to serve the needs of the business. In addition, IT can benefit from sound information governance to drive operational efficiencies and cost savings.


"Control Application Data Growth Before It Controls Your Business," IBM, September 2009.

"IBM Information Server: Easing SAP implementations, migrations and instance consolidation," IBM Corporation, 2007.


This chapter includes contributions by Meenu Agarwal (IBM).

Sunil Soares

Sunil Soares is the founder and managing partner of Information Asset, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in data governance. Prior to this role, Sunil was director of information governance at IBM, where he worked with clients across six continents and multiple industries. Before joining IBM, Sunil consulted with major financial institutions at the Financial Services Strategy Consulting Practice of Booz Allen & Hamilton in New York. Sunil lives in New Jersey and holds an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

MC Press books written by Sunil Soares available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

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    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.


  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption



  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.