Your Organization Needs an Information Strategy

Often, in meeting with technical and business executives of the organization, I get asked if they really need to put together an information strategy for the organization. My answer is always a firm “Yes!” followed by “If you’d like to be able to find any piece of information later.”

As it stands, within the past few years, a number of organizations have started to implement an organizational information strategy. These companies recognize that information is an organizational asset and should be maintained as such. They also recognize the lack of a central strategy has created major problems across the organization.

One of these problems is the inability of the people in the organization to find accurate and qualified information. IDC estimates that 15-to-30 percent of a knowledge-worker’s time is spent seeking specific information and that fruitless information searches cost the Fortune 500 alone as much as $8.5 billion a year in lost productivity. Such major losses could be rectified by making the needed information available as needed.

What Is Information Strategy

I define information strategy as an organization’s unified blueprint for capturing, integrating, processing, delivery, and presentation of information in a clean, consistent, and timely manner. All information in an organization should meet a certain standard for quality.

It should be delivered consistently across the organization, i.e., asking for the same information in different divisions should yield the same result, and users and applications shouldn’t have to wait long to get their requested information.

As an analogy, one could compare information in an organization to water in a typical metropolis. In the old days, as people built a house, they’d also dig a well in their backyard to reach water needed for drinking, cooking or cleaning. This water was hardly shared and was not necessarily clean.

If the building next door needed water and did not have a well people had to grab a bucket, go next door, take water from the well, and carry it to their own building.

As people matured in the art of city planning, we learned to think of water as a common utility and to integrate, clean, and distribute it from a central organization in the metropolis. You might say that we, as the residents of a metropolis, have an unsigned contract with our metropolitan water department to provide us with clean, consistent, and timely water.

Basically, regardless of where you are in the metropolis, you can trust that the water is consistent, has met certain level of quality, and if you open the faucet, it will flow.

The same applies to information in the organization. By implementing the same principles as our city planners, we’d be able to capture, integrate, and cleanse the information in a central repository, and to deliver it to our internal and external users in a clean, consistent, and timely manner.