Governance and assurance guidance for big data

Big data can save big money. A recent McKinsey report found that value gained from data in the US health care sector alone could be more than US $300 billion every year. But traditional tools aren’t enough to manage these extremely large amounts of fast-changing information.

To help enterprises use big data effectively, global nonprofit IT association ISACA issued guidance on how to manage the chaos and address the business benefits and challenges.

“Enterprises are investing significant capital to develop and deploy big data analytics to obtain an early competitive advantage,” said Richard Chew, CISA, CISM, CGEIT, senior information security analyst at Emerald Management Group.

“While big data can reap big rewards, it also poses significant risk, including misleading data and unexpected costs. It is critical for enterprises to put in place a governance program to ensure that information remains accurate, consistent and reliable,” he added.

One of the challenges posed by big data is that it has turned enterprises into competitors in some arenas and cooperative partners in others. Consider Netflix and Amazon, whose video streaming services compete, while Netflix uses the cloud infrastructure to support its streaming.

While the need for governance of big data environments is clear, big data governance is still at an early stage of maturity.

“Several issues present challenges pertaining to big data. SCADA systems, social media and financial institutions present enormous amounts of data to sift through and manage,” said Genemar Arthur Lazo, MSBA, CISA, CGEIT, CRISC, CISSP, CEH, manager of vendor evaluation at Walt Disney Studios and research chair for the ISACA white paper. “In addition, the lack of presentation of the data in meaningful data sets and the inaccuracies of real-time data are daunting and challenging. Frameworks such as COBIT help facilitate the balances for managing risk and reward when working with big data for enterprises.”

ISACA’s “Big Data” white paper is available here (registration required).

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