Monthly Archives: August 2014

Whose information is it, anyway?

We submit information to vendors and such on a regular basis, in order for them to provide us the products or services we requested and to maintain contact with us.  Who owns the rights to that data, and can the vendors use it for reasons other than those for which it was collected?  Well, the simple answer is, they do use it for other purposes.  But is that kosher?

“AIG’s New Tack: Data Into Dollars,” Wall Street Journal, August 30-31, 2014, B1.  AIG plans to mine the “vast reams” of data it has about its customers to reduce its costs and increase its profits.  Perhaps the customers will see lower premiums.

I’m all for using data analytics on data you own, provided there aren’t other limitations.  But do the Europeans have it right in their Privacy legislation that restricts the use of the personal data supplied to the purposes for which it was supplied?  How to share fairly the value that the use of that information adds?

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Filed under Analytics, Business Case, Controls, Information, Ownership, Privacy, Risk, Use, Value

$8 million in fines and purse

The bank hacking would be too easy a target.  So I looked further, and found one on the host of this weekend’s golf tournament, with an $8million purse.

“Deutsche Bank Fined Over Reporting,” Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2014 C8  Nearly $8 million in fines for reversing “buys” and “sells” since 2007  for nearly 30 million contracts in reports to the regulators.  A systemic error in their information collection and reporting process.  At least they got the profit and loss right.  We think.

If a bank can get this many transactions wrong, what confidence do you have that the rest of their reporting is reliable, accurate, and complete?  Glad I didn’t sign off on the financials.  Whose head is going to roll?  The CFO?  The Board?

But the tournament goes on.  The shareholders must be so proud.

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Filed under Board, Business Case, Collect, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance, Compliance Verification, Controls, Duty of Care, Governance, Information, Internal controls, Management, Oversight, Protect, Protect assets, Protect information assets, Risk, Value

Swiss non-disclosure

What can force you to disclose your private information?

Swiss banks have long been known for their secrecy. But have also recently been the target of investigations, both US and other, into whether they have assisted their clients in evading taxes. And they are trying to expand their business into other jurisdictions, but encounter challenges by regulators.

What to do? You can’t be transparent without disclosing something, but you don’t want to disclose too much.  So, change from a partnership to a corporation after 209 years, and file public financials on overall operations.

“Pictet Sheds Cloak, Reports Financial Data,” Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2014 C3

Is this how your business would have handled the problem? Would you have decided to change to corporate form to force disclosure of some information, while keeping the real secret stuff secret?  Have they changed the company’s culture of “no disclosure”?

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Filed under Board, Business Case, Controls, Culture, Governance, Inform market, Internal controls, Legal, Protect assets, Protect information assets, Requirements, Risk, Third parties

Fitness time?

Aren’t watches small devices one wears on one’s wrist to conveniently check on the time or date, or both?  Some watches are a fashion statement and some are jewelry, but they all just tell time, right?

“Swatch’s Biggest Fear? The Smartwatch,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2014 B6  The world’s largest watchmaker worries that wrist-based monitors of information beyond mere time (primarily fitness-related data) will eat into its business.  Will an Apple device tank Swatch’s stock when Samsung’s didn’t?

Is Swatch in the information delivery business?  Sort of. Is the core information enough, or must you constantly deliver “more”? How do you gauge the market’s desire for additional information delivery?  What is fitness data delivery worth?

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Filed under Information, Management, Use, Value

Automated Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence talks about machine that think, sort of.  Seems more like automated processes, but why get hung up on definitions?

“Artificial Intelligence Comes to Your Inbox,” Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2014 B1.  Developing advertising copy and setting up meetings with minimal human input, based on a five-component approach.  Taking the “randomness” of humans out of the preparation.

Is the method by which information is delivered part of information governance?  It’s certainly information use.

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Filed under Data quality, Information, Interconnections, IT, Knowledge Management, Use, Use

When does data become information?

Lots of buzz in the news over making the links between student testing data and teacher evaluations.

“Schools Given Leeway on Test Scores,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2014 A5 The Department of Education waives the requirement to link the two for the next school year, while new tests are being instituted.  Provided schools share metrics with the teachers.  But, curiously enough, not with the parents.

What happens when you have data (the linkage between test scores and teachers) but don’t use it or share it?  How do those people excluded from the process (the parents, and possibly the students) feel about that?  Whose data/information is it?  Aren’t they public schools?

Is there information you collect but don’t share?  Why do you collect it?  Why don’t you share it?



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Filed under Collect, Culture, Definition, Inform shareholders, Information, Management, Ownership, Use, Value

I hereby devise and bequest my Twitter handle

While  my focus is on information in the workplace, from time to time I comment on a piece related primarily to personal information.  What happens to your information when you die, and how does one access that?

“Delaware Eases Access to Digital Data of Dead,” Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2014 A3 State statute contradicts federal law, which limits access to the account holder (assuming the afterlife has wi-fi). Gives executor some access to electronic media.

What do you have in the way of electronic stuff that you would want your heirs to access?  What, if anything, do you have that you wouldn’t want to pass on after you have passed on?  What value does that information have, and who owns it?  Do the state laws of escheat apply?  Or does Google get it all?  What if you give your passwords to your executor?

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Filed under Business Continuity, Ownership, Privacy, Value

Oops. With several more zeros.

A politician once said, “A billion here, a billion there; pretty soon it adds up to real money.”  Attributed to Sen. Everett Dirksen.

Well, tell that to the former CFO and the former pharmacy chief at Walgreen’s.  A billion dollar difference in earnings estimates between the April forecast and the July forecast led to their departure.

“$1 Billion Blunder Trips Up Walgreen,” Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2014 A1  Apparently due to a flawed forecast of the cost of prescriptions under Medicare Part D.

I don’t believe the first shareholder suits have been filed yet, but I suspect the D&O insurance carrier has been notified.

Does your company have control systems that would prevent such a “blunder”?  Is it worth (or a part of) your job to check?  If you’re a director, are you liable, or at least responsible?  Is this an information governance issue, or something else?

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Filed under Board, Collect, Controls, Duty of Care, Governance, Inform market, Inform shareholders, Internal controls, Investor relations, Management, Oversight, Risk, Value

Who does information protect?

An interesting result following the increased use of body cameras by police. The number of allegations of misuse of power went down.

“What Happens When the Police Wear Cameras,” Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2014 c

Collecting information and using it in business is common. But is merely collecting information a way in which to affect behavior, without even looking at the information? And whose behavior does it affect? Both the wearer and the person who knows they’re being recorded? 60% reduction in claims of excessive force. 88% reduction in citizens’ complaints.

Where else could a wearable camera affect behavior? In your car? Does it matter if it’s a real camera versus a dummy?

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Filed under Collect, Oversight, Privacy, Security, Use, Value


It’s about a year since I started this blog, and I have managed to post more than 425 items, more or less daily entries. These have explored different aspects of the information governance “discipline.”

As I fly back from my daughter’s wedding in Ubud, in the mountains in Bali, Indonesia, I am struck by how easy it has been to find at least one article topic in each issue of The Wall Street Journal.. And it is possible to post from airports and from the front porch, overlooking the rice paddies, listening to the monkeys working their way through the trees.

Thanks for reading these musings.



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