IT is no different than any other area of human endeavor; there is a need to establish policies, operating procedures, and responsibilities. Looking at the bigger picture, it would seem that IT governance was established in order to ensure not only functionality, but also security and proper use of assets.
So, why has there been a shift toward compliance issues? Arguably, we’re seeing increased focus placed on compliancy issues within IT governance because virtually all of the world’s governments are being tested for various forms of compliance. Whether you’re looking at politics, finance or technology, one of the biggest issues out there right now is observance of regulation(s).
Simply put, the push to examine the inner workings of governing forces either technological, financial or political stems from the fact that quite a lot of corruption (specifically – insider trading) has been uncovered in recent times. In fact, some IT professionals who tend to specialize in areas like Basel II (which seeks to help establish risks and reinforce certain regulations) are finding themselves with plenty of work. It could be said that the pressure coming down upon political and governmental forces around the world, along with the problems inherent in the global economy have created a demand for increased compliance in the IT sector. This is especially true given the fact that IT services play a very important role when it comes to not only making certain types of activities and transactions possible, but also facilitating them on a daily basis.
Along with being able to meet compliance considerations, IT governance also plays an integral role in protecting both assets and data. Like the personnel, funds, and infrastructure an organization relies on, IT resources and data are really critical assets that must be protected at all times. In this way, IT governance seeks to maintain a sound, stable atmosphere both internally (functionality) as well as externally (security + regulatory compliance).
However, it would seem that the main focus seems to be shifting largely to external concerns; specifically, the manner in which any IT group adheres to a laundry list of federal, local and international policies. As the world becomes more “connected”, increasing attention needs to be placed upon international compliance policies (especially). Because data is more-or-less fluid and able to traverse the globe in mere seconds, it only makes sense that we need to bring more institutions on board with regulations that are designed to protect the sovereignty of data. Likewise, international businesses need assurances that their activities and data exchanges are both technically protected as well as legally. For instance, allowing certain countries to harbor known data thieves or racketeers makes it quite impossible for the international business community to approach them without scrutiny. In turn, this breaks down the trust between nations and even dissolves certain potentially profitable business ventures.
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Furthermore, the entire field of IT seems to be shifting toward an increased focus on business goals and objectives. Both business leaders as well as IT staff are awaking to the fact that their ultimate goals (the success of the entire organization) are largely one and the same. This has forged new connections between these once seemingly separated facets of any modern business. Nowadays, IT managers will often play a direct role in helping to explain the potential benefits associated with certain technologies as well as putting strategies in place that might make certain business goals possible. It would seem that this increasing role in business-related decision making has brought the issue of compliance ‘to center stage’.
Creating an IT department that is in line with various types of compliances isn’t an impossible or highly involved task. In truth, virtually any organization can drastically improve their adherence to and awareness of regulations by electing to hire IT professionals with backgrounds in either IT governance and/or compliancy. Conversely, simply electing to require mandated certification in these areas is also an option (especially given the relative affordability of various certification packages and so forth).
It’s also worth noting that companies across the world are using compliance and data analysis to formulate better marketing strategies. For instance, with certain compliance check points in place, and armed with the combined knowledge of business analysts and IT engineers, companies are discovering new ways to determine who their ideal customers are. Not only does this approach to governance make it infinitely easier for these businesses to reach out to new consumer bases, it also places emphasis on the value of the IT department’s ability to extract additional value from collected information.
The bottom line is that the interests of IT and business are slowly merging. IT governance, with its increasing focus on compliance, is helping to pave the way toward a new future full of new capabilities and potential.