In 2019, a mere year after Canadian businesses became subject to mandatory data breach reporting, Canada’s privacy watchdog estimated that a staggering 28 million Canadians had been impacted by a breach over the previous twelve months.

Cue 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rush to embrace digital technology accelerated with breathtaking speed. So, what has been the impact on Privacy and Information Governance?

Over 2021-22, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada conducted a survey to study the privacy policies and practices of Canadian businesses. They found that across all measures, from designating a privacy officer to developing internal privacy policies to regular privacy training for staff, compliance with privacy practices had decreased since 2019. 

Whether this is due to the expanded use of technology in the workplace is difficult to say with certainty. What is clear is that lurking just behind technology’s promise of connection and convenience exists a perfect storm of information risk. In the wild exuberance of the digital transformation era, Information Governance often falls through the cracks.

And it’s easy to understand why; technology can be exciting, shiny and new. Information Governance can feel confusing, overwhelming and easy to put off for another day.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Here are six tips from the Information Governance & Privacy experts at Cenera on how your business can embrace digital transformation without compromising your information security.

Understand that Information Governance is about action, not just words

Information Governance isn’t just a set of policies that sit on a shelf. Done right, it’s a holistic, practical and integrated approach that touches every aspect of your operations. Without successful implementation, change management and training, your beautiful manual and policies are talismans at best.

Good Information Governance supports and reinforces your strategic business goals and your daily workflow- in a word, it should make your job easier. If it doesn’t, it may be time to examine how you’re stewarding your information.

Function is Just As Important As Content

The best way to identify, track, retrieve and decide policy for information is by understanding and linking it with the function or purpose for which it was created, received, and used. A functional “taxonomy” or standard set of functional descriptors is therefore essential to information governance system design.

Of course, if the functional taxonomy is done poorly, it will not support information tracking, retrieval or policymaking very well. Users in your organization will vote with their feet-the death knell of your information governance system.

Identify Your Weak Links

Remember the Imperial “Death Star” ship in Star Wars? it seemed undefeatable until the rebels realizes a single small design flaw was all they needed to bring the entire ship down.

Information Governance is kind of like that; if you don’t understand the weakest links in your processes, you’re leaving your business vulnerable. And for the most part, you won’t even see it coming.

That’s why conducting a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), for instance, is critical. A PIA can help your business identify and mitigate compliance risks, build privacy into your system design and establish ongoing accountability.

Ensure You Have the Expertise You Need

Expecting to have excellent Information Governance practices without having the expertise you need to get there is just not realistic. If your employees are trying to manage privacy compliance “off the side of their desk”, don’t expect great results.

Make sure you’re resourcing your Information Governance efforts with the right amount of time and expertise.

Check-in at Regular Intervals

Testing your Infomation Governance policies is the only way to ensure they’re working the way you expect. Conduct regular audits to assess compliance and identify potential issues before they become a major breach.

Like any business goal, your Information Governance needs to be measured and continually improved.

Stay Up-to-Date on New Legislation & Industry Trends

Technology moves at incredible speed in today’s world, and Information Governance needs to keep up.

In this environment, business owners can expect that privacy legislation will continue to evolve. What was compliant yesterday won’t necessarily be compliant tomorrow, so you’ll need to be prepared to stay on top of the changes.

The experts at Cenera develop Privacy and Information Governance policies that work for today’s business needs, including hybrid and remote workplaces and effective digital integration. We’re committed to providing outstanding governance and security strategies, policy development, and privacy training. 

Contact us if you need help. 

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