UK Faces Data Management Timebomb

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Too many financial services organisations think data management is the IT department’s problem, according to new research

UK financial services organisations are asking IT departments to solve data management problems which are really business issues, experts claim.

According to the results of a survey from data specialist DataFlux released this week, more than half of organisations are at risk of responding wrongly to regulatory compliance. 

Companies are also missing out on competitive advantage, said DataFlux managing director Colin Rickard.

The biggest problem is when organisations confuse responsibility for the bits and bytes of data with responsibility for its content, Rickard said.

“It’s extremely telling that 36 percent said that IT is responsible for data quality or governance, while another 16 percent said no-one has specific responsibility,” he explained.

“Data security, availability, storage and so on – yes, those are all IT issues, but understanding the business content and context of data is not IT’s job or skill-set.”

According to Rickard there is a big gulf between what organisations say about their data and what they’re actually doing. “They say it’s a strategic asset, but when you ask about data governance you find 27 percent aren’t even considering a data governance project,” he said.

Data governance covers topics such as data security, accuracy and quality, and data protection and minimisation, and is needed for both internal business and external regulatory reasons, DataFlux said.

Rickard added that – despite the requirements of UK anti-fraud legislation – 11 percent of the 160 organisations surveyed said they do not have a process in place for comparing customer lists or transactions to international watchlists of known criminals or terrorists.

Although organisations can buy data quality and data integration software from companies such as DataFlux, the problem of data governance cannot be solved by IT alone, the company said.

“It’s a shared issue – that’s why it doesn’t get done,” said Rickard. “Business knowledge is absolutely critical to the success of these projects, so the savvy IT manager has got to engage the business in the project’s outcome.”