Rock and Roll

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Today we have a guest editorial from Grant Fritchey as Steve is away on his sabbatical.

There are days where working in IT feels like being a colossus astride the planet. Then, there are most of the rest of the days where you just feel like Sisyphus. “I just got that gol-durned rock up there!!!”

I was recently talking with a group of IT folks about data compliance and the changing compliance landscape. For example, you know that the California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect on January 1 with enforcement starting June 1. If not, now you do. The part that was making me crazy, and frankly I had little to offer the people I was talking with is the core of the compliance issue: It’s a business problem, not a technical one.

Oh, sure, there are tons of technical implementation details that will ultimately land on our shoulders as IT folks. However, the definitions have to come from our legal and business teams. The impetus to get to work on this stuff also has to come from the business. What’s worse, the urgency must come from the business, and I’m not convinced that businesses see compliance as anything urgent, despite the growing GDPR fines and the expansion of GDPR-style laws all around the world.

How on earth can we in IT move the rock to the top of the compliance hill without the engagement of the business?

We can’t. So, then, the question becomes, how do we engage the business? I know people who have pointed out the fines issued so far, only to be rejected. They’ve also showed how high the potential fines could be. Still, the business frequently doesn’t seem interested. Yet, it’s clear that this is going to be a problem and that the problem entails a partnership between the people in IT and the rest of the organization.

I put it to you. How do you engage an organization that is both ignorant of the issues and, frankly, uninterested? Is it that the business-side of things has knowledge we lack? That could certainly be true. Conversely, are they just desperately sticking their heads in the sands, hoping the storm passes them by? That may also be true. Regardless of the facts, it sure feels like we’ve rolled this rock up the hill a time or three.

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