Data Encryption with business intelligence and reports has always been a problem. Users are constantly requesting reports, and once data is in someone’s hands, it’s almost impossible to control data dissemination and what I’ll call data diaspora. One must admit, especially in large organizations, that trying to put controls from a procedural perspective is not particularly realistic. With hundreds or thousands of managers out there, controlling the actions of each person is particularly difficult.
In the good old days of ad hoc report files, excel spreadsheets, and powerpoints, any person who got their hands on data could easily forward it to someone else. The fact is that technology was sufficiently difficult to use that most organizations, even the very large ones, have used Excel as the easiest way to aggregate and analyze data from multiple sources. Even for single source reports, excel has long been the easiest way to communicate a data set. Managers didn’t really have robust capabilities to tap into reports on their own, and even then, one of the selling points from software vendors has been the ability to export data into excel where managers or practitioners could continue analysis.
HR technologists have been talking about dashboards and business intelligence for years, but it does seem that the lately emergent technologies are finding some adoption in larger organizations. Perhaps this is just maturity of the technology, perhaps the prices have started coming down from the fully customized ERP BI software to more vanilla and off the shelf analytics tools, or perhaps it’s possible that spending was just down so far in the last 2 years that nobody was buying the stuff. Whatever the reasons, the technology and the market seems to be ready now.
Certainly, increased controls are now much more prevalent with each manager going to their own dashboard to view data, and with the large number of analytics available in the HR and talent realms, ad hoc requests are hopefully going down. All this just means that if you can deliver a set of analytics to the manager desktop as opposed to frequent ad hoc requests, your data is controlled by the application security layer upon delivery. Since you have never sent an email with an excel spreadsheet, there is no data to be fowarded.
You’ll argue with me that this technology has been around for years upon years – at least a decade. I’ll absolutely agree that this is true, but I’m pretty sure that every single vendor out there (whether publicly or not) will agree with me that until recently the delivered reports were not sufficiently robust or comprehensive. ERP vendors are now also delivering robust prebuilt analytics with sufficient drill downs and drill throughs. The goal of the whole thing is to have enough data presented in a simple but detailed enough manner to eliminate most ad hoc needs. If you can create an environment that does this, you utilize your application’s security as opposed to releasing your data to the winds of fate.