Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why does Information Management need Enterprise 2.0?

AIIM research tells us that 52% of organizations have "little or no confidence" that their electronic information is "accurate, accessible, and trustworthy". Yet, over 90% of organizations view their ability to manage electronic information as critical to their future.

At my own company, Acando, our strong focus on Information Management is based on the belief that making sure the right people have the right information in the right time will create competitive advantage for our customers.

At our recent Information Management seminar, a colleague of mine presented some quite compelling findings from a study by TDWI (The Data Warehousing Institute) saying that poor information quality costs organizations 10-20% of operating revenue in process failure and "information scrap and rework" in direct costs. What is even more interesting is that although 83% of the companies that participated in the study thought they had a lot of information of bad quality, 80% thought the cost for bad information quality was below 0,1% of revenue! No wonder Information Management is not on the top of their priority lists.

Even for companies that claim to understand how great the negative impact of bad information quality really is, the sheer size of the challenge might scare them from putting it up on among their most prioritized tasks. Cutting costs in transactional processes is just so much easier to do.

Information Management is a daunting, almost unmanageable task. It is safe to say that any team that is given the responsibility to "fix" IM within an enterprise will be given an impossible mission. The scale of the challenge makes it impossible for a small team to make anything but a minor difference, if any at all.

What we need to understand is that we will only become successful at Information Management if it becomes everybody's business. We are all producers and consumers of information, so it is (or should be) in everybody's interest that the information we produce and consume is fit for purpose (which by the way is one simple way to define information quality). But we must realize that we can’t do anything about it just by ourselves in isolation. Nor can we just assemble a team of especially skilled people to do it for us. Information Management can only be improved via mass-collaboration, or "collective collaboration" as I called it in a previous post. Everybody should be able to contribute to improving the quality of the information we produce and consume, and every contribution that brings things in the right direction should count and be recognized, however big or small it is.

The problem is that many businesses are addressing the IM challenge using strategies, methods and solutions that might worked well for more limited challenges before the Knowledge Economy, in the Industrial Economy, but which are totally insufficient for dealing with challenges of this scale. That is the simple answer to the question why Information Management needs Enterprise 2.0. To become better at Information Management, we need to take advantage of the scalability of communication and collaboration that today’s Internet-powered open and social communication platforms enable so that we can address the Information Management challenge as a collective.


  1. Great post, as usual.

    Would be good to talk with you in more depth about this somewhen, because it's clear that Information-Quality Management is becoming one of what I've classed as 'pervasive services' that must of necessity be the responsibility of everyone in the enterprise.

    Knowledge-management has already been down this path; likewise occupational health & safety, product-quality, security and, increasingly, enterprise-architecture - to name just a few examples. What I'd like to explore sometime is ways to extract common principles across all of these 'pervasive' domains, to make it easier to add others to the list, and bring them up to speed as well.

    It's very likely that social-processes would play a major role in this, of course. :-)

  2. I have to disagree on this. Information management and knowledge management build on the false belief that 'information quality' is a problem that can be solved.
    For knowledge management, the perceived solution was capturing, storing and safeguarding the 'tacit knowledge' of its employees. In today's network economy, we think finding the remedy in fostering better collaboration and interaction between individuals, mutually improving each other's capabilities and working towards the 'best' knowledge.
    Both approaches have their merits and will deliver some result. Unfortunately, the achievable 'information quality' is something that is largely defined by the composition of the group of individuals you bring together. Whatever type of collaboration, cooperation and interaction you facilitate, using the best possible tools and methods, the 'maximum achievable information quality' you will be able to get is largely predefined and unfortunately, well below 100%. This is not a theory, but a harsh reality that I was able to experience time and time again over my past career. Enterprise 2.0 will not change this reality. It will only bring you somewhat closer to this maximum.

  3. Marc, I don't see how you disagree. My point is that Enterprise 2.0 can help improve information quality, not make things perfect. To bring us "somewhat closes to this maximum", we need to collaborate. We need to make information quality everybody's business. We can't give this responsibility to a few people. With Enterprise 2.0, we now have the means to distribute responsibility for information quality to the enterprise as a collective. THAT, is my point.

  4. Hi,

    Could you provide a reference to your statistics re: the cost of data quality ? I had a look around the TDWI website but wasd unable to find it.

    Leigh Kennedy.

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