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Information Management in 2017

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They say that information is the oil of the 21st Century, and analytics the combustion engine. This infamous quote, by Peter Sondergaard, is often shared at industry events, to remind BI experts of the importance of enterprise wide information management.  While I completely agree with this sentiment, I still find that far too many organisations view data as too overwhelming and difficult to manage.

By way of example – a very typical scenario – in most businesses, is the frustration experienced by many when looking through lists of documents from the company’s cloud server, just to try and find a financial document saved weeks ago.  While a time consuming and often time wasting activity, it is, in effect, just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

In fact, I recently read Why enterprise information management is a key to analytics success which gives a good outline as to why these surges of frustrated organisations – as far as data is concerned – exist. For me, two key areas resonated:

  • The conception of silos comes to play – when organisations feel overwhelmed by massive amounts of data, it is natural that the departments within the company develop with their own ways of doing things in an attempt to manage all ‘their’ data. An example of this would be when the marketing department deploy their own set of BI or reporting tools to undertake their reporting, due to a lack of centralised architecture and information management.
  • Repetition becomes an issue –in many cases multiple departments use copies of the same data in their transactional systems, and again in their reporting processes, without even knowing it. This happens partly because these departments are operating as silos, but also due to architectural and interoperability problems. This represents wasted costs for the company.

 

So, what can be done?

While many organisations have tried to come up with ways to deal with their data, an interesting trend again resurfacing, often driven from the BI space, is Enterprise Information Management. Gartner explains Enterprise Information Management as an ‘integrative discipline for structuring, describing and governing information assets across organisational and technological boundaries to improve efficiency, promote transparency and enable business insight’.

In simple terms enterprise information management is an approach that allows organisations to unlock the value contained in their data. With this value, an organisation is then given the ability to generate new opportunities, stay ahead of competitors or even create new synergies within the business. For this to happen however, a shift in thinking around the data and information an organisation holds, is necessary.

As the article states, organisations that democratise generations of information and business intelligence have a major advantage over organisations where IT – or any other single group – has a monopoly over the creation and dissemination of information. IT should have a supporting role in information management, but certainly not a ownership monopoly. It is an enterprise resource, which should be globally managed and governed.

If organisations want to be less frustrated when it comes to data management, they need to understand that enterprise information management is not a one size fits all approach. However, the power of data and analytics can be achieved, and viewed, if organisations are open to it. I have seen it with our own clients. It is with this in mind that I have no doubt that Information Management will be an approach that will be more widely embraced in 2017 and certainly will be included in many digital models or strategies – but of course, organisations will need some guidance along the way.

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