Enterprise information management (EIM) is a hot topic these days. According to Gartner, Inc., EIM is an "organized program to design, catalog and safeguard all of a company's information assets - including content found in databases, transaction systems, data warehouses, documents and rich media - to maximize their value, usefulness, accessibility and security."1 I believe EIM is simply effectively shepherding information resources so that they can deliver maximum value to the company. Most companies have some level of a formal EIM program in effect. However, the EIM efforts often have become stagnant and are inadequate to meet changing or growing informational needs. What's required is a transformation in the culture of EIM - how it's done and how its value is perceived enterprise wide.
Four cultural areas span the spectrum of EIM: business processes, IT culture, enterprise data and information infrastructure. The current state of these cultural areas is often in disarray, thus leaving EIM efforts in turmoil as well. Moreover, business processes are often inconsistently applied. Finally, there is often limited alignment of strategic key performance indicators (KPIs) and operational metrics, leading to inconsistent management reporting and some manual processing of key reports.
I have found the IT culture at many companies marked by poor quality data and limited accountability for that data. The atmosphere is usually one of reactive decision-making. The enterprise data culture is typically characterized by inconsistent data enterprise wide, with holes in source data due to input inaccuracies and multiple sources.
The enterprise information infrastructure typically consists of poor analytical capabilities, cumbersome access to data and poorly designed or obsolete customizations of key software applications. Finally, there is often limited alignment of reporting and analytical tools with business needs. I believe, however, that there is a way to transform these EIM cultural areas and make them models of excellence rather than problematic areas that drain resources and sap corporate confidence.
EIM cultural transformation entails a commitment to continuous improvement - in each of the four cultural areas I've described - across all corporate divisions and business functions. Another key component is an atmosphere of accountability, responsibility and authority, with a matrix for information on accountability structures.
A third component is robust educational and training programs for all workers. Communication across functional and departmental boundaries is also critical to an ongoing and effective cultural transformation. The final component is to make investments in technology and tools for more sophisticated and comprehensive information management.
What do I think this future looks like? To begin with, it engenders trust in corporate data and effective decision-making at all corporate levels. Business processes are standard and consistent enterprise wide. There is alignment of KPIs across the company to meet corporate-wide goals and objectives. Management at all levels, and according to roles and security needs, has access to standardized reports - as well as the ability to create ad hoc reports. Information that goes into those reports is processed automatically in most cases, leading to more timely access to information for decision-making.
The IT culture is also transformed. The business side of the company assumes responsibility for the ownership of corporate data. Decision-making moves from an environment of reactive firefighting to a dynamic, proactive environment where workers spend more time on innovation than scrambling to solve never-ending problems. And because business processes are standardized enterprise-wide, business intelligence (BI) initiatives are aligned with those processes, leading to more accurate information.
As for the enterprise data and information infrastructure cultures, there is finally "a single version of the truth" about corporate information. There are comprehensive, consolidated data repositories that provide single or "golden" data sources with the correct data to BI and other front-end analytical systems.
Finally, the infrastructure contains the appropriate tools and technologies to provide comprehensive decision support capabilities throughout the company, while not requiring the IT budget to be overinflated and constantly readjusted to meet unforeseen needs. Reporting and analytical tools, driven by the transformed business processes, are aligned with business needs, therefore facilitating the easier attainment of overall strategic and tactical objectives.
I know producing an EIM cultural transformation won't be easy or quick. It will take inclusion and buy-in from key players in all departments - to make it happen. It will also require wise investments in, and wise use of, top IT tools and technologies. However, when the company is running more smoothly, margins should go up and customers should be more satisfied, which should make the value of the transformation clearer. It's a long road, but I believe it's well worth the journey.
- David Newman. "Business Drivers and Issues in Enterprise Information Management." Gartner, Inc. 25 July 2005.
This publication contains general information only and Deloitte Consulting LLP is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, financial, investment, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. Deloitte Consulting LLP, its affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.
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