As the economy staggers towards recovery, organisations need to effectively manage the information resources existing throughout the organisation. Only in this way can they develop the agility and insights to maximise new business opportunities.
This is the view of Sean Paine, director of information solutions specialist, EnterpriseWorx. “As the volume and type of information expand exponentially, managing it becomes an increasing challenge,” says Paine.
“Information management is a continuous process, a journey that must be undertaken in a structured, committed way. It depends for its success on the organisation treating data as a strategic asset. To be effective it must be aligned with strategic business objectives and operational requirements.”
Enterprise information management (EIM) is a process for creating, managing, sharing and using information in a holistic way across the organisation. It includes structured information in company databases and unstructured information like e-mail, social networking sites and blogs. It aims to consolidate data from these disparate sources and provide fast access to complete, clean and current information.
“This information should not be restricted to a few knowledgeable specialists, but should be freely available throughout the business,” says Paine. “It’s a matter of ownership. Management tends to allow the information technology (IT) department to own the information because it controls the delivery mechanism. But business leaders need to take ownership and approach EIM at a strategic level.”
Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows a substantial gap exists between the information that managers view as important, and their organisation’s ability to provide it. For example, whereas close to 95% of managers regard information about business risks as a critical driver, less than 30% feel they have access to relevant comprehensive information. The pattern repeats itself when it comes to information on the company’s brand and reputation.
“Management needs to commit to making an investment in terms of money, time and effort to ensure data availability in crucial areas,” says Paine. “In this way they can move to a partner ecosystem of information management where all parties can make decisions based on access to current, accurate information.”
Effective information management supports execution of strategy, improves business processes and allocates resources more effectively. “It goes to the level of linking your strategy to the organisation’s systems, processes, and people,” according to PwC. It involves harnessing the collective knowledge of employees and allowing decisions to be based on facts rather than intuition.
“In order to drive adoption of EIM in the organisation, it’s necessary to develop a culture that recognises the value of information management,” adds Paine. “That means communicating with stakeholders and informing people of the changes they can expect and supporting them as they learn new processes. In the information age, speed of delivery is critical. For the user, the EIM system should be easy to learn, intuitive and instant, delivering information and insights when and where needed.”
“To overcome resistance to change it’s important to find an executive sponsor, produce early, tangible wins and demonstrate the return on investment in terms of metrics like cost reduction and increased revenue.”
“You can’t take a back-seat approach to EIM. It has to be tackled in a structured manner. Where this is done effectively, it will incorporate all the data and application silos in the organisation and integrate these in one effective environment enabling the business to manage unexpected challenges.”