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April 15, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:18am

4 simple steps to manage data properly

The world is drowning in zettabytes of data but you can stay afloat and avoid information chaos. CBR spoke to John Mancini, president of information management analysts AIIM, to find out how.

By Duncan Macrae

We are all aware of the sheer volume of information in modern life and in modern business. We live in an era when there has never been more information than there is currently and it is growing too – IDC forecasts we’ll produce 40 zettabytes by 2020.

We are also told of the value this information holds and its importance to business success, whileindustry analyst Gartner talks of us all ‘entering the era of the Digital Industrial Economy’. There is without doubt a major opportunity to make effective use of this information, yet despite this,many organisations are simply drowning in a sea of content and suffering from information chaos.

Dealing with this chaos will be the most significant challenge facing businesses over the next decade. What can organisations do to help make sense of the content and information their business generates, and turn information chaos into information opportunity?

What’s behind the information explosion?

Content and information is arriving at an ever increasing speed in an ever changing and growing array of formats. This potentially spells trouble for businesses. It has arisen from three major disruptors that have emerged at the same time to transform the business world as we know it.

These are:consumerisation, where business people assume enterprise solutions can be delivered as seamlessly and as simply as consumer-based solutions are delivered in their private lives; mobile and cloud, which have given way to an expectation of anywhere, anytime access andincrease the volume, variety, and velocity of information; and finally the changing nature of work, where organisations are forced to think flat and agile, not hierarchical and slow. This flattening of hierarchies is accelerated by consumerisation and cloud and mobile technologies.

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Creating opportunity from the information chaos

While it may seem like many businesses are suffering from information chaos, it is possible to turn that chaos into opportunity. Check out the next page for the four key stages that should be considered by any business that wants to make the best use of its information.

Develop a content management strategy

Digital content is where the increase truly is taking place, so look to your existing policies and align your electronic records practices with those that you already have for physical records. If you do not have an up-to-date Information Governance Policy that is supported across the business, kick-off a project to create one and ensure that new staff and existing staff are fully trained on compliance with the policy.

Eliminate as much paper as possible

Too many organisations are simply wedded to using paper in their business, believing it to be essential. It isn’t, so highlight the role that paper-free processes can play in any business improvement initiatives.

Audit where poor access to information is hurting the business – trapped on paper, spread over file shares or simply mobile-unfriendly. Use this to energise your content management, as the more content you can converge into a single, searchable, mobile-accessible system, the fewer other places you need to go to solve the problem.

Establish how you want to use your content and information

This often means in marketing, but social content especially can be deployed to equally good effect internally. Identify who exactly has responsibility for the different types of social content andagree how to categorise it and how it should be stored, so it can easily accessed as and when required.

It’s all about business insight

Ensuring you can get business insight from all this information is the crux of the matter – without that is just terabyte after terabyte of data. Any business must first identify just exactly what insight it is they are looking for, what piece of information would transform their business. They must then turn to their data – is it accessible, is it clean, how much is there – and invest in the analytics tools to deliver the required insight from it.

It is easy for any organisation to feel like it is drowning in information at times and that everyone but them is making effective use of all that content and informationto further their business goals. But following the four steps outlined above can help turn chaos into opportunity – good luck.


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