The Crisis of Cross-Environment Trust Management

In my opening remarks, I introduced the four pillars of data trust—security, privacy, accountability, and integrity—along with the perceptions and expectations of diverse stakeholders across an organization. In this post, I will examine the common qualities that define desirable outcomes across all these different perceptions of trust. While the definitions of each stakeholder group—from business units to individuals, human resources to security and risk, IT to the Board of Directors—may appear different on the surface, they all share three important qualities: consistencypredictability, and simplicity.

Considering these qualities, one can easily make the case that information technology solution providers both internal and external to an enterprise are marching in the right direction to adopt cloud services and consolidate disparate internal systems into common platforms.

In the case of cloud service providers, these qualities are prevalent no matter where you look. Daily, major SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS providers announce new capabilities designed to enhance the consistency, predictability, or simplicity of their offerings.

Most growing enterprises are making overtures to consolidate their strategic on-premises information technology platforms, providing more as-a-service offerings for the explicit purpose of enhancing consistency, predictability, and simplicity.

Despite many successful and innovative solutions that enhance these three qualities for information technology systems, one often overlooked problem is rapidly becoming a more significant challenge: cross-environment data trust management. Specifically, the currently inconsistent and operationally inefficient management of trust stemming from the usage of data in a variety of different systems.

While the efforts discussed above will lead to various forms of consolidation and process simplicity, most enterprises will always have a healthy portfolio of information technology systems both in-house and cloud-enabled. Within this heterogeneous environment, the one resource in common is enterprise data. Regardless of what system the data may reside in at any given moment in time, the mere fact it moves, or is replicated to another system does not change the requirements for how it needs to be handled.

From the perspective of the enterprise, the information itself remains the same even if the bits and bytes are in motion to support the business. Having to manage the state of trust for common information in many different and ever-changing systems is already bending and breaking the ability to maintain a predictable outcome for the most sophisticated enterprises. Many approaches to this challenge have caused considerable disruption to individual employee business processes, and in some cases inhibited the business outright from using the best tools for the job.

I commend the efforts to make protecting our information more consistent, predictable, and simple. However, we must look more holistically at the heterogeneous landscape of technology “solutions” we have put in place in order to solve the problem. It may be possible to design and implement some measure of consistency, predictability, and simplicity within a single silo, but data is not constrained to a single location: It travels across silos and beyond them entirely.

Unless we address the challenge of managing data trust across diverse environments, we will reach a critical inflection point where the operational cost of maintaining security, privacy, accountability, and integrity in each technology silo becomes greater than organizations can bear. As a result, data—including personal information belonging to you and me—will become even more at risk than it already is.

Luckily, we have a model for moving forward. In my next post in this series, I will examine the challenge of managing identity across diverse information technology systems while contrasting it with this growing crisis of cross-environment trust management.

Part 2/4 Founder’s Blog Series: Trust Management


This is a long-form version of Adam Ghetti’s blog, posted originally by the World Economic Forum