CIOs And The Compliance Problems That Big Data Causes

by drjim on February 26, 2014

Too much data can cause serious compliance problems

Too much data can cause serious compliance problems
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What kind of rules does your company operate under? Are there certain things that your employees (sales in particular) are not permitted to tell your customers? How can you determine if they are following the rules? How long do you have to retain your copies of all types of communication? Not to get all NSA on you or anything, but since you have the CIO job, are you doing a good enough job of reading everyone else’s mail? This has become yet another part of the importance of information technology for all companies.

Doing What The Law Says

Different industries operate under different rules; however, the general rule is that if you are working in an industry that deals with either people’s money or their health, you’ve got a lot of responsibility. What this means is that your every communication with your customers, no matter if it is done via email, text message, document, Twitter, Facebook, etc. must be captured, recorded, and saved.

In the U.S., electronic communication must be retained for at least 6 years. That’s tough to do. However, things get even sticker. In the finance industry, companies are required to review at least 20% of all communications.

All too often a company can get sued. When this happens, specific digital records such as specific emails can be requested. The person in the CIO position (you) is then responsible for being able to search though the company’s digital archives and retrieve the requested document. Failure to be able to do this may result in hefty fines being levied on the firm.

How CIOs Can Keep The Company Out Of Trouble

One of the biggest challenges that is facing today’s CIOs is the simple fact that the information that they need to be keeping an eye on comes in so many different unstructured forms. There are emails, text messages, PDF documents, Word documents, etc.

What is a CIO supposed to be looking for? Ultimately the goal is to detect the use of words or phrases that may mean that forbidden activities are occurring. In the world of finance forbidden words may include “guarantee” or “complaint”. In the world of health care, it could be any form of a patient’s medical records.

When you are looking at 1,000’s of emails alone that have to be scanned every day, an e-discovery tool is required. This tool needs to be able to detect forbidden words as well as the common misspellings that spammers use or coded communication that may indicate that fraud is happening. No matter what tool you choose to use, once it’s in place you will then be responsible for maintaining this function.

What All Of This Means For You

In the world of big data, companies are generating more and more data on a daily basis. This data exists in many different unstructured formats. The CIO is ultimately responsible for creating systems and tools that will allow all of this information to be scanned in order to detect any wrong doing.

When determining what automated solution they want to implement, CIOs need to carefully study the industry that their company competes in. The rules are different for the finance and the medical industries. Data retention is a key part of any solution – know how long you have to hang on to your records!

Keeping track of who is saying what to whom is an important part of the modern CIO’s job. By necessity, this means that a great deal of data is going to have to be stored, searched, and eventually disposed of. Take the time to do this task correctly and you will have found a way to keep your company out of trouble.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If improper communication is discovered, who do you think the CIO should contact first?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Roughly half of the having the CIO job is communicating with other people. We all know about communicating the importance of information technology to the rest of the company; however, one of the most important people that you have to communicate with is your CEO. When there is a change at the top, then all of a sudden you’ve got a brand new person to report to. This has got to become your #1 job…

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