Transforming Information into Knowledge, Part 1

4. Create governance and change management programs to leverage these capabilities in day to day work processes – Governance allows for ongoing evolution of terminology and core vocabularies. Governance processes provide the leadership, resources, direction, operational guidelines, and ongoing monitoring of progress and success of the information management initiative.

The goal of good governance is to ensure that the correct capabilities are being developed and deployed, that sufficient resources for success are allocated, that policies are being complied with and that organizational change management resources are engaged throughout the program.

These efforts require that the goals of the program are fully socialized, and that users understand the end game and benefits as well as what is expected of them. Programs succeed or fail based on the level of socialization, buy-in and change management effectiveness.

5. Apply accepted practices to unstructured content processes to promote better information hygiene – Most enterprises have developed poor information management habits and practices. This is understandable as the information tsunami is growing at an astounding rate. IBM believes that in the next five years enterprise information will grow by 650% with 80% being unstructured.

The only way to avoid the increasing inefficiency and ineffectiveness that this situation will create is to begin to develop better information hygiene. This means a) developing and applying information lifecycles, b) using the appropriate tools for collaboration versus reference, c) applying appropriate resources to organizing important information, and d) assigning ownership and curation across repositories.

6. Measure the information management process -Develop metrics to measure the quality and currency of content. A big part of this is simply measuring success at getting rid of materials that are cluttering up the system. This can significantly improve search results, make content more usable, allow essential content to be prioritized, and ensure that the curation process is focused on useful information.

Other useful metrics include how often critical content has been reviewed, whether tagging has been approved, the age of content, value ratings by users, heuristics for alignment with best practices, search precision and recall and, most importantly, statistical sampling of content for compliance with governance process guidelines.

7. Measure business impact of new practices – The business impact of content can only be measured through its impact on a business process.

Content supports process (knowledge base content supports customer service reps, for example) and the performance of that function can be linked to use of high value content: Sales processes are supported by proposal content, competitive information, marketing content, etc.; engineering is supported by various design libraries, methodologies, test protocols, and specification documents, for example.

Content quality can impact a process which in turn supports a business objective (customer retention, customer acquisition, time to market, etc.)

By creating a linkage to a specific step in a process and measuring how effective or efficient that step is with supporting content versus the effectiveness with poor quality content, one can measure impact of these new practices.

8. Repeat on department by department basis – Once this approach is initially developed and applied, create a center of excellence with the purpose of introducing these practices to other parts of the organization.

Content habits take time to develop. In fact, a baseline maturity assessment can tell you where the organization is on the learning curve and how long it will take to move through the stages that are needed to achieve excellence.

While this journey will be challenging, there really is no choice given the information avalanche that lies ahead.

Seth Earley is president and CEO of Earley & Associates, the nation’s foremost information management and taxonomy consulting firm, helping institutional and Fortune 500 companies to improve the way that people, technology and content connect. Earley & Associates serves a broad range of industries including retail, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, media and entertainment, non-profit and government.