For many organizations navigating the stormy seas of a turbulent economy, there is hidden treasure to be salvaged in the form of effective information management. So how can you steer your information assets to sail toward new opportunities, reduce costs and achieve high performance?

As the recent Accenture survey “Cultivating High Performance through Information Management” shows, organizations consider effective information management as a means to outgrow the competition rather than just to stay in business. Information that drives decision-making can only be achieved if data is fully integrated and effectively managed. In a climate of economic volatility, an organization’s best assets - its information assets - should be seen as more than available; they should be seen as critical to survival.
Insight about a business’s operational levers and the analysis of customer behavior represents the lifeblood of an organization. By evaluating information assets, filtering them through a maturity gap analysis process and defining how to optimize those capabilities, organizations can chart a course for the future.

What are the new “laws of the sea” for the current economic crisis? Some are still being discovered, but this much is true: the need for information that is maximized for value has become greater, while the margin for error has grown smaller. An information management strategy may seem more expensive when budgets are tightening, but this circumstance also means competitive advantages will be magnified in difficult times.

While executives may acknowledge that managing information is a high priority, actions often fall short of aspirations when identifying quality initiatives or the ownership of their business information. Often, the “sandbar” of tackling data quality is a primary obstacle to achieving information asset maturity.

Information strategy is important for executives when they are:

  • Seeking a single view of the truth, which is vital to fact-based decision-making;
  • Deciding which information assets are part of the organization’s broader strategic intent;
  • Hoping to manage information more effectively to create new operating models; and
  • Leveraging information to enter new markets and promote products to customers more effectively.

By defining an information strategy roadmap and planning for information transformation, you can achieve your desired information maturity level.
Consider the opportunity for information transformation, whether improving access to data, changing a front end, increasing storage or undertaking a content initiative.

In much the same way that the enterprise resource planning boom of the past 10 to 15 years has unified transactional systems and processes, information management capabilities can be revitalized by a strategic and integrated approach. Indeed, a consolidated view of what tools and technologies need to be used and what the processes and the priorities are primes an organization for the differentiated capabilities that separate the high performers from the rest.

Information Transformation Checklist

Does your organization:

  • Struggle to manage multiple BI vendors?
  • Retain uncertainties around your core data assets?
  • Have inconsistent metrics across the leadership team?
  • Require frequent initiation of projects to cleanse and improve data quality?
  • Hold inconsistent document and content management goals?
  • Operate an unclear or inconsistent approach to data governance?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, then your organization is ripe for information transformation.

Monitoring Maturity

How can you achieve information transformation? Organizations must identify where they are today in terms of their information maturity level.

  • Foundation level: Doing the basics and struggling to meet business, customer and compliance needs.
  • Competitive level: Having a single view of the truth but needing to create more value from our information assets.
  • Pioneering level: Agile, with self-service information analytics available to the business but wanting to do more.

Organizations that wish to move from foundation to competitive levels need to apply a layer of industrialization that will enable them to deliver information management capabilities by examining how they provide services around their information management assets. To achieve pioneering capabilities, organizations must have mature information services and repositories and be able to provide new and unique ways of leveraging information assets to drive business growth and, in some cases, create new business models.
Unless your company has reached a pioneering maturity level, you are unlikely to have a sufficiently educated workforce with the talent and experience required to use information assets for strategic advantage; what is more, the data and content that is available will be too immature to provide any sufficient insight to drive growth and high performance.

It may be tougher in lean economic times to internally sell the investments required for proper information management. But improved efficiencies and a staff enabled with access to the right information are spending money to save money.

Achieving Safe Harbor

Weighing anchor to ride out an economic storm is not an option for organizations that wish to grow their businesses and cut costs. But a deep dive into their own operations might discover the sunken treasure of effective information management that can ferry them into calmer waters and, despite the following winds of change, reach the shores of high performance.

Are there rocks ahead? There may be. But doesn’t that make these the times you want the best maps possible?


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