Horatio Nelson, one of historys most famous nautical heroes, offered the advice, First gain the victory and then make the best use of it you can. Global organizations navigating the stormy seas of the economy today are forced to chart a course through the dangerous waters of information overload just to stay afloat. So how can organizations steer their information management demands to ensure clear sailing to achieve high performance?
Defining Information Management
Information management can be defined as the discipline of being able to accommodate increasing levels of flexibility and access to information as well as scalability of infrastructure, while delivering more integrated information, applying more rigor and increasing information integrity. Only by identifying an information management destination and applying a layer of strategic insight can the full value of information management be realized and competitive differentiation achieved.
Information management solutions have grown over time. This evolution together with a general consolidation of technology vendors in the marketplace may have diluted the impact that a more strategic approach can bring to the enterprise. Still, CIOs must define their information management destination if they aspire to make the whole of information management greater than the sum of its parts.
Compelling research from our Accenture Institute for High Performance Business found that high-performance businesses have a much higher analytical orientation than other organizations. According to our research, approximately 10 percent of company executives (15 percent of executives in high-performance businesses) view their analytical capability as a key element of their strategy. Nearly every organization, however, aspires to use analytics more effectively and expects to invest to upgrade analytical capabilities significantly over the next five years.
Information management is evolving to meet the needs of an increasingly globally distributed workforce that requires flexible, task-driven, accurate information on an as-needed basis. To achieve this, CIOs will need to adopt a broader, more inclusive management strategy. Our recent research among 162 CIOs from Europe and North America confirmed that more than 75 percent of respondents want to develop an overall information management strategy in the next three years. Most CIOs are aware of the likely benefits, and more than 60 percent of respondents say they expect to achieve true competitive differentiation from better information management.
But while CIOs realize that acquiring a single view of the truth can support better decision-making, the demand for information access is fast spiralling out of control. An explosion in both volume and costs has made it harder to assess the relative importance of unstructured and structured data. Manual data entry errors and poor processes result in information that is often of poor quality or untimely, making reporting a hazardous exercise. Adding to this, the activity around mergers and acquisitions often results in a legacy of both applications and hardware requiring consolidation.
CIOs need to stay afloat in their information management voyage. In much the same way that the enterprise resource planning boom in the past 10 to 15 years has unified transactional systems and processes, so, too, can information management capabilities be revitalized by a strategic and integrated approach.
As many organizations struggle to meet business information needs, executives must learn how to future-proof their decision-making and scale up to become high performers of information management. In order to excel, organizations will need to increase their information management maturity level.
While organizations may still be just out of port and struggling to meet their information needs, they can still set goals to create processes that will help establish value from their information assets. The overall goal, however, should be to innovate and progress to managing information as a service. Now that the market has matured, organizations must push beyond core competencies to embrace a superior reference framework that can determine the what and when rather than the why and how of information management.
Eliminating the Guesswork
Information management executives are now focused on asking themselves: What information services will my business users need in the future? What are the quality, use and compliance issues? Rather than rely on guesswork, companies can now use process modeling tools to help navigate future information management performance by identifying whats on the horizon for a high-performance business.
As organizations commit to a strategic information management vision for the longer term, they will discover how rewarding and cost-effective such insight can be. According to Gartner, organizations must focus on modernization strategies for their infrastructures and practices in order to achieve significant improvements in agility, efficiency and cost optimization.1 By mapping business processes, monitoring those processes through business activity monitoring (BAM) tools and integrating information consumption capabilities into the software suites (such as business intelligence [BI], data management, content management and portal capabilities). Businesses can optimize content for their users. This means organizations will spend more time fostering innovation and applying creative uses of information and less time aggregating data and content or challenging the results. Modeling tools can support organizations by:
- Focusing on the business horizon. Modeling tools offer a way to handle information management from the perspective of the destination rather than the voyage. Organizations may be investing in several different information management capabilities, but modeling tools introduce control and highlight what their investments can truly achieve.
- Preparing the business. Business users can be ready to make decisions and take actions based on high quality information. Whereas users may now feel like they are spending 80 percent of their time collecting information and 20 percent acting on it, in the future this could be reversed.
- Delivering value management. Modeling tools determine the real value of information and what information management principles need to be practiced to achieve this value and drive the greatest rewards.
- Introducing simplification. Easy and straightforward, modeling tools empower people to be more productive and help organizations achieve high performance.
- Encouraging collaboration. Modeling tools provide a means for the CFO and CIO to agree and implement solutions that add value across the business.
- Reducing costs. Modeling tools give the ability to consolidate information management applications, and they provide agility and flexibility to the business users information consumption experience.
- Improving decision-making. Modeling tools bring together governors and architects of information, combining quality, consistency and the ability to access meaningful information.
The compass of an information management strategy framework is needed to effectively help an organization navigate to the next port in the information management voyage, steering it safely toward the safe harbor of high performance.
- Ted Friedman, Matthew W. Cain and Kurt Schlegel. IT Modernization: Recommendations for Leaders in Business Intelligence and Information Management. Gartner, Inc., June 12, 2008.
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