Enriching an Enterprise Corporate Governance Strategy with Data

Michael Stoeckert, CTO, ProAssurance

Michael Stoeckert, CTO, ProAssurance

An enterprise corporate governance strategy fosters an environment that provides, maintains, and supports the information base that your company and its stakeholders need for ensuring compliance, enhancing decision making and creating reliable information to analyze. Creating this environment includes developing a portion of the corporate data architecture, designing a Data Warehouse, designing an Enterprise Service Bus and identifying and implementing the necessary technology to use the data.

Implementation of this strategy requires an enterprise model that describes the key data elements and processes in sufficient detail to allow future components to fit together as their development is required. It also describes a phased implementation plan which can be used to drive and track the progress made from the current environment to the one envisioned. A framework should be f leshed out with detailed analysis and design, along with schedules and personnel requirements, once specific projects have been identified.

"The first major milestone consists of completing the accelerated scoping and planning which provides project initiation and start-up, current state assessment, infrastructure definition, and solution proposal"

An initial list of Business Processes from your Enterprise Business Strategy needs to be verified and expanded. Business goals, objectives, and measurements will drive the content and delivery of your enterprise corporate governance strategy, which also includes a stakeholder intelligence strategy. The stakeholder intelligence strategy is a tool that the compliance officer can use to communicate vital information to stakeholders so they can assess risk. This is especially important for institutional investors. Some very large companies have migrated to a senior executive team which requires the Chairman, CEO, and President be three distinct people. This updated structure has changed the reporting of Chief Information Security Officers to report to the Chairman or Governance Committee, who represent stockholders. Chief Information Officers continue to normally report to the CEO or President, who represent management and employees under this new structure.

To further enrich the enterprise governance, you must first establish executive-level consensus on critical information required to drive current and future business decisions. Second, confirm that the information aligns with your compliance policies by having your compliance process perform their analysis. Third, validate existing data sources and establish consistency of data across multiple business systems. Fourth, provide accurate and timely information, along with the appropriate analytical tools to facilitate decision making and analysis. Finally, establish a Corporate Data Architecture consisting of critical information components and standards surrounding data management, access, and multidirectional data interchange.

All changes to the corporate governance environment should support the larger strategic goals outlined in your company’s Business Strategy. Piecemeal solutions will result in data structures and processes which are inconsistent, redundant, and difficult to maintain. This shift in emphasis toward long-term objectives means building systems that ref lect the true needs inherent in the delivery of products and services to the enterprise’s customers and stakeholders, rather than ref lecting the management organization of the company. The key components of your corporate governance strategy will be the data ecosystem “Operational Data Store/Data Lake,” “Data Warehouse,” “Data Mart,” and the “Enterprise Service Bus.”

A Date Lake holds a vast amount of raw data that is in the same format as its originating system. This can include both structured data from business applications and unstructured data from IoT (Internet of things) devices, mobile applications, and social media. In the old days we used to call these “staging areas” in EDW lingo.

An Operational Data Store (ODS) contains detailed transaction information and is used to get up-to-the minute information on current customer behaviors and purchasing activity. This ODS is usually restructured into third normal form. So, after you have deemed a set of data that is in the Data Lake valuable to compare to more structured data, you can transform it into a relational format. At one time, this was very time intensive, but with AI and machine learning, vast breakthroughs have been made to automate this process.

A Data Warehouse is an integrated collection of non-volatile data that offers various levels of detail for decision analysis, management reporting, and decision support. The Data Warehouse contains more summarized information and is designed for understanding larger trends and patterns.

Data Marts contain information geared towards particular user groups and are used to support their specific reporting requirements. They are largely in the form of proprietary repositories that are designed for the speed required by multidimensional online analytical processing and usually contain that the greatest aggregation of data, allowing the users to focus their analysis before getting to the detail.

An Enterprise Service Bus is the central integration point that houses the single version of the truth for all data which is highly volatile. The Enterprise Service Bus communicates with various source systems, ODS, Data Lake, and the Data Warehouse. A service based architecture will provide real time information to your customer and stakeholder facing applications by using the information contained in these data integration structures and support for formats required for legacy systems.

This is different from older Data Warehouse architectures that cleanse non-standard data from source systems in one direction into a pristine data model. In the past, an automated process to cleanse the source systems with non-standard data was not included; which was a very long, manual process which involved working with source system owners. An enterprise Corporate Governance Strategy also includes the environment to support the data ecosystem including the control, timely access, levels of summarization, real time data interchange and distribution of information.

Implementation of a comprehensive Corporate Governance Strategy enables changes in business measurements, processes, and data structures which can effectively be used by internal and external stakeholders to initiate changes in operational systems, thus supplying new data to the ecosystem. This results in a better understanding of who customers are, a more personalized and pleasant web experience for visitors via your channels, an ability to effectively track long-term trends in the business, and f lexibility to adapt to changes in the needs of the business while ensuring that stakeholders are confident in the validity of information. A consistent and reliable view of corporate data organized around business processes is the result.

This architecture should be implemented incrementally. By targeting a specific business process scoping the development of an Enterprise Data Integration Architecture, immediate benefits can be enjoyed by some business users, and the viability of the plan can be demonstrated. The implementation approach will focus on continuous delivery of value-added segments of the Corporate Governance Strategy. This should utilize iterative methods, with facilitated techniques, heavily including eventual users of this corporate governance system, including stakeholders.

The first major milestone consists of completing the accelerated scoping and planning which provides project initiation and start-up, current state assessment, infrastructure definition, and solution proposal. Subsequent phases include analysis, construction, infrastructure development, implementation, and project management. Usable portions of the warehouse and Enterprise Service Bus should rollout in 3 to 6 month intervals.

A Corporate Governance Strategy is not a project; it is a process, requiring the ongoing efforts of all parties to maintain and increase the enterprise’s functionality in the face of constantly changing user needs, compliance policies, and business processes. This requires a clear commitment from upper management, especially the Corporate Governance Committee.

Information is an asset of the entire organization. An Enterprise Information Architecture Strategy can help individual operating units build structures which take enterprise opportunities into account. This strategy must be tied to the enterprise’s business strategy.

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