The technical features of compliance: Ensuring all’s well in business intelligence systems

Published December 21, 2020   |   

BI systems are an absolutely integral part of modern businesses. They let companies manage the increasing volume of data, manage business records, and talk to clients and partners.

With a powerful BI system, all you need is a single screen to orchestrate all parts of your business operation and manage your resources. And even more importantly, business intelligence systems give contextual insights right when companies need them.

And yet, it’s difficult to keep tabs on all channels through which BI systems data move. Especially when the pandemic hit. Suddenly, companies had to rethink the way they safeguard and use their business intelligence.

Crucial data lie in BI systems. That’s why it’s important to ensure we keep them in line with the complex regulatory compliance.

Business Intelligence Systems Compliance

BI systems give insights into past data and anticipate future events. They also allow you to manage suppliers and contractors, as well as controlled documents.

On the other hand, big data is tough to tame.

To ensure proper GRC strategy (governance, risk, compliance), companies need to understand where this immense volume of data is stored and how, who has access to it, and which pitfalls companies need to avoid.

The higher the volume of data, the higher the chances of non-compliance slipping through cracks. Add to that the unstructured nature of data, and it becomes extremely important to make sure all is in order.

Luckily, companies can resort to some of the innate functionalities of BI systems to reduce the risk of non-compliance. Here are the crucial features that companies need to put in place, either via their BI systems or third party vendors to ensure full compliance of their records management.

Metadata is Essential for Ediscovery and Litigation

Ediscovery has changed over the last decade, as new communication channels, applications, and enterprise software sprung up. With such a diversity of information sources, companies are likely to be asked to produce specific evidence.

Without metadata, little can be done to prove data authenticity. Information can be tempered with or disposed of easily, eliminating any chances of proving the authenticity of your business records, and consequently of your business decisions.

For example, if we look at supply chain management, you’ll want to preserve records of orders placed, receipt confirmations, delivery date confirmations, and so on. This will not help you identify friction points in your supply chain, but will also allow you to demonstrate when these records were made, where they were stored, who created them, and who has accessed them. All of this may prove vital in case of legal proceedings, so you’ll want to make sure that you can prove the genuineness of each transaction.

Big Data Requires Searchability

The volume of data keeps growing year after year. And in addition to the volume, the number of data sources also continues to expand.

On average, companies need to tie together information from social media, instant messaging apps, ERPs, CRMs, HR management software, as well as from emails (both internal and external), market intelligence systems, and more.

Working through all this information manually is impossible.

Instead, companies need to have a reliable, searchable database of information where they can easily find relevant bits of information quickly. Only this way can they stay competitive in a quickly evolving market.

Centralized Data Repository

The ever-increasing volume of data also highlights the commonly found issues of enterprise data silos, where information of each separate business vertical is kept in its own separate database, with different software, tools, and application, all generating data, but communicating very little among themselves.

Before companies can make proper use of the potency of big data, it’s important to map out which data lies in which of the verticals and determine whether there are insights to be made if these verticals silos were unlocked and data stored in a centralized database.

The issue with data silos is the lack of communication between crucial business functions. This might have been possible before, but it may prove devastating to businesses operating in today’s market.

If top management lacks information (which by the way already exists in the business information architecture, but is invisible), they might make a decision that’s not based on the entirety of data.

To tackle these issues, companies can intertwine all these data points, by bringing them together and capturing, collecting, and storing all these data in a single repository.

For instance, instead of keeping each communication channel separate, companies can set up a single archive that could monitor and record all communication going on the company’s channels. This way, companies would be able to have all their emails, information from their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, or their WhatsApp archive, and similar communication channels synced and recorded automatically in a single, searchable archive.

As a result, companies would have all outside-facing communication within reach and would not only be warned of potential incidents, but also keep continuous monitoring of their compliance, and be able to quickly prepare for incoming data retrieval requests.

BI Must Support a Variety of Data Formats

The data that companies deal with today is often unstructured and comes in numerous formats, which can sometimes be incompatible.

Migration from legacy systems and databases can be particularly challenging, as companies risk losing information that could have proved quite useful when used in a robust BI system and provide competitive business intelligence.

To that end, companies looking to last need to lay down an information strategy that would help them identify data formats they have operated with, they currently use, and some formats they will need to support in their mid- and long-term strategy. This allows moving in the right direction, choosing vendors and applications that fit with the existing systems, while also ensuring compliance with regulations.

The thing is that, as a rule of thumb, the compliance provisions of records retention laws require that information is preserved in the original format or disclosed in a particular format. This means that companies could be facing non-compliance difficulties in cases where their records can’t be delivered to relevant authorities timely due to incompatibility between data sources and formats they support. Hence, it’s wise to account for compliance in your current and future information strategies.

Once companies factor in these requirements, they’ll be able to meet compliance and make much better use of their BI systems. These efforts require resources, but it’s the only way for enterprises to ensure their data is properly protected and in line with regulations.