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Digital Ethics & Humanism – Central to Information Governance for the Digital Business

by Andrew White  |  March 18, 2015  |  1 Comment

I noted an article today in TechTarget asking, “How Often Should we do a Comprehensive Security Exam?”  I thought this was a valid and useful question.  It is not exactly new, though current pressures vis a vis security make this more pressing and urgent.  But the headline triggered an important idea in my mind. It was at last week’s Gartner Enterprise Information and Master Data Management Summit in London where the idea was spawned.

I had sneaked into the back of the room to listen to Frank Buytendijk‘s presentation on digital ethics.  Frank has a wonderful style that engages the audience, physically, into the discussion.  He asked the audience to explore different perspectives related to the issues, challenges and opportunities related to the “opt-in/opt-out” idea in all those pesky, unread agreements we see every day from organizations we deal with.  It came to me: digital ethics is the hottest, most central issue facing information governance types today – especially when we consider our emergent shift toward digital business.  It is so glaringly obvious I didn’t even spot it!

Information Governance is hot again for sure.  It is throwing off its dusty, dated image of “control” and “rules” (though in truth those are still there, but now more narrowly defined) and moving toward business relevance and information value.   In fact in our keynote at the event was charged the attendees: how many of your current information initiatives that include an element of information governance have had a “digital ethics evaluation”?  How many such programs have been looked at through the eyes of the digital humanist, as opposed to the more functionary eyes of the digital machinist?  This is a serious question.  Would Samsung have released their “listening TV” that shared unencrypted data to its server, if it had taken the time to adopt a digital ethics element?  I don’t think so.

So the TechTarget article was asking a great point about security.  And while we should conclude that we should do more frequent security checks, we need to change our ideas regarding information governance and put digital ethics and digital humanism at the center.  And quickly.

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Category: digital-ethics  digital-humanism  digital-machinism  gartner  mdm-summit  mdm-summit-na  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Digital Ethics & Humanism – Central to Information Governance for the Digital Business


  1. Digital ethics and digital humanism seem like vague and complex ideas to some but its significance in our modern age is incredibly high. Sure, being safe and secure is our top priority but we also need to remember how to connect. Great post!



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