3 Ways Government Agencies Can Manage Their Data More Effectively

07.21.2021

3 Tips for Government Data Management

Even before the large-scale shift to remote work in 2020, government IT staff were tasked with large data management loads. Today, that challenge has become even greater: As more employees work from home in various locales, government staff must now understand how to manage and secure information as data sprawls across multiple systems.

But data can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, all of these insights have the power to solve many of the challenges citizens face today. On the other, if not managed and analyzed correctly unstructured data can become burdensome — not to mention that agencies aren’t able to use their data to the fullest advantage.

Government-IT Data Management

“For government agencies, the remote work concept has become more widely accepted. At the same time, there’s been an evolution of compliance models and regulatory requirements around unstructured data, which have started to be held to the same standards now as structured data,” says Russ Houberg, senior solutions architect at SkySync. “It’s been a perfect storm of technological and cultural change.”

Houberg has spent 15 years in the enterprise content management space. His resume includes architecting extreme-scale solutions, executing data migrations, and transitioning organizations to new platforms, among other accomplishments. Data management, he explains, has changed drastically since he began his career. Today, as the amount and use of data grows, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence have become critical components of the data management and file migration process.

“Given the new paradigm of the remote work model, institutions are not just managing information on-premises, but also in the cloud,” Houberg says. “So the ability to deploy an automated classification and action engine capable of processing multiple content platform endpoints simultaneously is becoming a critical requirement.”

So what can government agencies do to manage their data effectively amid this ever-changing environment? Here, Houberg offers a few pointers.

Get to Know Your Data

For many government agencies, the management and migrating of terabytes of data can seem overwhelming. These fears are not uncommon: Houberg has partnered with several organizations that are afraid to even touch their horde of unstructured data.

“The biggest issue is just the sheer size of these unstructured oceans of data,” Houberg says. “People need to be able to understand what is in all of that content.”

But analyzing this data isn’t always easy, either. It often requires staff to spend hours manually analyzing, classifying, and labeling these data sets, time that would be better spent on more strategic tasks.

“If agencies have to move their data, or if they have to re-architect their data, they need to gain oversight,” Houberg explains. “The reality is most government agencies don’t have the staff or resources to go back through the vast quantities of data that they have manufactured over years or even decades of existence.”

Improve Compliance and Security Through Automation

This is where automation comes in. SkySync’s AI-based classification engine, for instance, is designed to sift through unstructured data, identify sensitive information and classify it by document type.

Houberg compares this process to that of a coin sorter.

“Imagine that you’re dumping a huge bucket of unstructured data that you don’t know anything about into the top of a machine, and what comes out the bottom is organized, identified, semi-structured content,” he explains.

This approach not only streamlines the data management process for staff that would otherwise be sorting the content manually; it also helps agencies become smarter about security.

“You now know where the sensitive information is because it’s sorted and labeled. That dramatically reduces the risk of security violations and, of course, makes the content more discoverable,” Houberg says.

But it’s not enough to simply identify this sensitive information. Agencies must then take steps to secure it. Organizations can leverage automation to protect their data, either by moving it or adding permissions. Moreover, platforms with classification capabilities like SkySync can help identify trends and misclassifications due to human error.

“Providing that additional double-check helps to further insulate organizations and institutions from more severe fines during an audit — and, more importantly, can help them minimize damage in the event of a data loss.”

Establish Data Integration Across Government-Supported Platforms

Of course, procuring shiny new technology isn’t always easy for public sector organizations. The U.S. government is notorious for enacting regulations and requirements on third-party vendors — and for good reason. Recent data breaches have encouraged organizations to take a closer look at their security posture while putting pressure on government contractors to reevaluate their own solutions.

Microsoft, for example, offers the Office 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC), a version of the service designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. government and the Defense Department. It meets the compliance requirements of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program at FedRAMP High, as well as the security controls for DOD’s Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide.

Moreover, the systems and services that agencies use to migrate their data must seamlessly integrate with these government-supported systems, as well as one another. This is especially true as the shift to remote work has increased the use of collaboration platforms.

SkySync was built with this integration in mind. It integrates not only with Microsoft’s GCC solutions, but also widely used collaboration platforms like Dropbox, Box and Google Drive.

The Future of Government-IT Data Management

Looking ahead to a future where remote and hybrid work environments could likely be the new norm, Houberg says connecting the dots between these platforms will only become more important — and leveraging automated tools that integrate with one another will be paramount to successful data management.

“For a long time, document classification and orchestration has been a moving target,” he says. “People have been trying to achieve this nirvana of a highly accurate classification engine for a long, long time. And now, with AI, we’re finally starting to get to something that’s real and usable. And we’re only going to see that improve in the years to come.”

 

Curious about SkySync’s AI-powered file migration and data governance platform can help your government agency reach its data management goals? Contact us.

Mallorie Brazeau