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12. February 2016

Do we need a Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO)?

The IGI (Information Governance Institute) [1], a US-based private think tank has published several articles and papers promoting the role of the  Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO). This role should combine several roles around the governance and management of information. He/she should:

  • Implement an IT initiative,
  • manage the IG initiative,
  • lead the IG steering committe ,
  • develop and deploy policies and implementation rules,
  • implement technology solutions,
  • audit for compliance,
  • lead incident management.

This sounds quite abstract and  must be explained.

It is essential to understand what we mean by Information Governance. We tried to explain this by producing a small animated video which shows you the concept of information Governance[2].

In an organization, complexity is added by an overflow of distributed information or uncontrolled storage locations, however, the basic challenges remain the same. Information must be treated as carefully as food, but what is the role of the “master of fridge” = CIGO?  And is he really the guy who should care for everything? In a flat-sharing community, there should be someone who enforces the rules which were set by the community. Dictatorship will be the wrong option to choose, acceptance comes with legitimation.

The main difference between a flat and a large enterprise is of course the complicated and often unknowns ways of information and data flows – and of course, the amount of fridges (storage locations, repositories and containers). The main challenge for the CIGO wouldn’t be to set the rules, but to communicate them and make them understandable – in different cultural environments. In addition, most employees focus on their content (data) and they often don’t feel responsible for the data they store. This has been produced by an unwanted fragmentation of simple processes. The accountability for vital information of specific functions was dismissed or somehow disappeared.  In addition the huge amount of data locations and repositories has led to chaotic situations around data control. So one of the main questions will be: Is a single person able to improve or even correct such a situation?

If we take a closer look at the CIGO as defined by the IGI, we can see that the CIGO has an ubiquitous role in the organization and should care about the conformance and performance aspects of information management. In our books, we use our conformance/performance diagram to describe the different roles and activities which are involved in information management:

Conformance Performance Strateg Positioning E_(C)KRM

To include all four quadrants into the CIGOs profile will be  a big challenge. In reality this is not feasible if we stick to one comprehensive role. Therefore the question remains, what type of role can the CIGO take? The four quadrants in our diagram are normally owned by the respective practice leaders. The performance quadrant is dominated by the core business drivers, typically by the CEO and the executive board members responsible for the core business areas. The conformance quadrant belongs to the compliance officer or head of the legal department. These managers normally have to co-operate in order to achieve their goals. Either bringing a compliant business case into the market or achieving high reputation as a business enabler or watchdog over compliance. Information management is part of their game. However they would never call that a core capability . So how could the CIGO provide added value to this constellation?  Typically by combining the defensive aspects of information management and combining the different viewpoints. This is a valid goal and shouldn’t be underestimated. But if you take a closer look at the profile of his person, you will see that he needs business, compliance, insurance, audit and other skills on senior level. Who would take a CIGO role if he had that profile??

However the question remains what the CIGO can achieve if the value of information hasn’t become part of the business strategy and model. Nothing, we dare to say. We don’t trust the “evangelist” role as it is often called in american publications. If the persuasion, that the governance of information is a central part of the business strategy doesn’t exist, the CIGO has no chance to survive. His role would be reduced to the central coordinator, a position which would be similar to a CISO. But then we should definitely drop the C and stuck with IGO (still needs a big EGO to survive).

So the organization will only succeed with the IGO role if the prerequisites have been set. Information governance as a key strategic issue has to be defined on normative (board) level incl. basic sets of rules communicated. To enable  this, the IGO (which could be a role of a member of the executive board) must have an active role and will have to educate and convince people to treat information more holistic and coordinated. Finally, the normative level must communicate the importance of information and start with the implementation on normative, strategic AND operational level. If we’ve learned something from failed implementation projects, this is the one thing to understand: If information governance happens on the normative or strategic level only, management and employee support  will die away instantly! You cannot implement fridge rules and hope that they will spread automatically! If the milk goes sour, typically the rules will be blamed!  The board will have to lead that process and integrate it into its management process. Information governance goals must be identified and tracked, sanctions need to be implemented if rules are not followed. Implementing a Chief Digital Officer [3] will not move your organization a millimeter, if information hasn’t the importance it requires (to fulfill your business goals). Conclusion: the CIGO is merely a valid position or role without the capability of the board and executive board to understand the value of information and its associated functions. What we expect from the board is a clear commitment to the interdisciplinary importance of (vital) information (and data). An information management strategy must identify the building blocks of the digitization strategy, this will also clarify the different roles which will be needed to implement.

We will continue this discussion and will also use our fridge scenario to explain the roles of the different stakeholders.

The next article by Jürg Hagmann will talk about the concept of lateral or agile leadership and the change management activities needed to develop a corresponding  information governance culture.

[1] Information Governance Institute (IGI), Introducing the Chief Information Governance Offficer: A New Information leader for a new era; http://iginitiative.com/

[2] What is Information Governance? https://youtu.be/i9Jxeky0P9o

[3]  McKinsey thinks a   Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is needed


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