Ethical Tech? Making a Difference through Data Management

Gwendoline Huret is a Global Product Manager at Micro Focus, with more than 10 years of experience in Enterprise Software for Data Management. She has specialized in privacy and cybersecurity since the start of the GDPR in 2016, and worked on data management projects across the globe, first in sales and now in product management. Her latest blog post is a reflection on the intermingling of her work and her personal ethos.

Putting the IT in “Existential”

The din of shifting “techtonic” plates can obscure the asking of fundamental questions. In the context of an increasingly vulnerable planet, ravaged by accelerating climate change, deadly pandemics, growing social inequalities, and fears for a lost younger generation, the biggest is also the most important: namely, “what do I contribute to the world?” The scale of the task can prompt us to freeze in inaction, cowed by a problem we feel is beyond us to fix. But that is not the case.

This is not about volunteering or political activism. Instead, we focus on the everyday: our jobs. Consider your past career decisions and current work profile. Is the overall net effect on your community negative, neutral, or positive? Does it enable you to live your values? Making a difference matters whatever industry you work in, but let’s assume that those reading this article either work directly in, or are interested, in tech.

As a product manager, I choose my software products and build their roadmaps. When I do so, I ask myself – “what does this product contribute to my community?” Right now, I am happy with my choice – and this is not associated with, say, a renewable energy solution. Instead, the software driving my agenda addresses something more prosaic for most organizations: data management.

We all use data, and every organisation of a certain profile requires software to manage that data throughout its lifecycle. Most countries have laws that make this a robust, mandatory process. So, we are all obliged to manage our data, but can we choose a solution that does so ethically, contributing positively to our communities―and if so, how big can this contribution be?

Let me explain why I feel that working on Micro Focus Content Manager contributes positively to the wider community.

Data Management and Climate Change

Not everyone understands the role of data, or the internet itself, in generating pollution and adding to climate change. Nor that social media is a larger contributor to the worldwide carbon footprint than aviation. Here’s a tip…deleting old social media photos helps fight climate change.

In short, every email you send and every document you generate has a carbon footprint. Why? Because creating, storing, and archiving them uses energy, and that energy pollutes. But of course, data is the new oil, so organizations need data generation to thrive. So, what is the solution? Effective data management can reduce the carbon footprint without compromising data value. Far from it―improving data management efficiency by classifying and retaining the data the organization needs, while deleting what it doesn’t, adds value to that information.

How Does Data Management Software Help?

The right solution underpins the corporate data management strategy by, firstly, reducing data storage time data through automated retention policies that delete data when no longer required by your business, or the law.

Organisations can be reluctant to delete their data, but I have a solid list of business reasons to do so. Being “environmentally friendly” just made the list.

In addition, the data management solution ensures data deletion is safe and follows regulations by collecting appropriate approvals passing automated checks to protect important data from accidental removal. Software certification is another safeguard, and Content Manager is DoD certified.

Secondly, the right solution will integrate with existing systems to manage data in place to avoid duplicating data or wasting energy on migrations.

The third benefit is about managing data throughout its lifecycle, by having a single copy of the document to enable organization-wide, real-time collaboration with controlled access and permissions. The alternative is the energy-hungry process of re-sending the same document by email attachment and managing duplicates across your organization. To be right across the “green” data management brief, select a data management solution that compresses the data and manages various storage tiers, balancing cost against the access requirement when archiving old information. Data retrieval efficiency is also key when implementing a search.

Data Management and Social Equality

Recently, a specialist in the South African market pointed out to me that a few of their governmental agencies specifically do not utilize data management solutions, because they can reveal corruption. It’s a globe-wide problem, of course, but I found the idea of not deploying data management software to hide corruption fascinating. Conversely, the government agencies that do use these solutions should be applauded for their transparency. Data management solutions such as Micro Focus Content Manager don’t merely manage data; they protect it, while making it more accessible for searching. Think of all the times we hear the phrase “missing files” which is often politically or legally prudent. With the right configuration and permissions, and log files that recorded files being deleted or exported, Content Manager would render that possibility redundant.

Content Manager is the enemy of corruption, and that makes me sleep better at night.

Data Management and the Pandemic

My article on how technology helped during the COVID pandemic explained how data management tools helped to keep the economy ticking over when the national workforce pivoted to a very different way of working, collaborating, and accessing content.

More importantly, perhaps, Content Manager also delivered for a highly regulated industry at the heart of the pandemic. This solution helped pharma clients utilise data while following data management regulations, specifically to keep that valuable information confidential during the development of the COVID vaccines. Content Manager, for example, saved AstraZeneca $44 million and made searching for data faster and more efficient, liberating resources which were redeployed to accelerate vaccine development time.

Effective data management saves money and improves efficiency. So “do-good” organizations get to do more of it, faster. One of the rewarding aspects of my job is seeing Content Manager deployed at the heart of private and public companies that improve my community and make it a better place.

Capitalism Cares

Oh yes it does. Even the most hard-nosed capitalist now understands the importance of environmental and societal issues. Our own CEO, Stephen Murdoch was clear that more companies are judging Micro Focus by our Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) score when submitting RFPs.

And that is a separate, but inextricably linked point. My employer, Micro Focus works with ecovadis, a third-party provider of business sustainability ratings, to ensure accountability for our ESG score, and track its progress. Stephen’s statement was: “Our goal―to embed sustainable and responsible business into the heart of everything we do.”

Living by your values can mean working for―and with―the companies who both monitor and look to improve their ESG scores. An acquaintance of mine who works in finance tells me that more funds than ever consider this when making investments, partly because they recognize how the wider climate crisis will damage the economy. The concept of greenwashing, exaggerating or being otherwise untruthful about the environmental credentials of a given product or service is well understood and widespread in the tech industry. In that context, the ESG score is reassuring to consumers: it holds capitalism to account by providing an incentive to be ethical and an agreed measurement―the first step towards improvement.

Livable Values

Authoring a blog post that makes you feel good about your work is one thing. Inspiring the reader to question the value of theirs to the world is another matter. But if you are responsible for managing data in your organization, Micro Focus is here to help you find data management solutions that can set you on a path towards feeling good about your choices.

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