Managing the information maze

Information management (IM) has become an industry buzzword for the consolidation of information anything - information governance, information architecture, information integration. Executives find themselves awake at night worrying about what's happening with their information and where the value is. These concerns are justified given the numerous stores of information, the different places throughout a company where it exists and the recent raft of related legislation.

Information management (IM) has become an industry buzzword for the consolidation of information anything - information governance, information architecture, information integration. Executives find themselves awake at night worrying about what's happening with their information and where the value is. These concerns are justified given the numerous stores of information, the different places throughout a company where it exists and the recent raft of related legislation.

But it would appear that their worries could soon be addressed. New research suggests CIOs share a vision for successful information management in order to obtain value from data, competitive differentiation and market advantage. CIOs recently surveyed by Accenture have revealed they have their sights set on adopting an enterprise-wide information management strategy within three years.

CIOs are investing in information management to help them outperform the competition, rather than merely helping them "stay in the game", and they recognise the value that effective information management brings to their business. The chief hurdles they face in achieving their vision are funding and data quality, with technology seen to be far and away the lowest obstacle due to the maturity of the tools available.

When asked what the most likely driver is behind adopting an integrated approach to accessing and analysing data, more than 60% of CIOs surveyed said it was to achieve true competitive differentiation through new markets, more revenue and a means to innovate. When asked to rank the ways in which information brings business value, "better analysis and decision making " was the top choice among respondents.

Business intelligence and improving the management of data, in particular, are seen as sources of differentiation. Nearly 30% of respondents indicate that both business intelligence and data warehousing, and data management and architecture will be afforded significant investment in the next 12-18 months. The focus on using data for advanced analytics echoes previous research.

So what does all of this tell us? This research backs up the concept of an enterprise-wide and integrated approach to managing and creating value from an organisation's diverse information assets. It also underlines an approach that includes all types of data, structured and unstructured, internal and external, while the entire information lifecycle - from acquisition to storage to cleansing to integration and, ultimately, analysis - needs to be considered. There must also be full consideration of the technology needed for managing information and ensuring security, governance models, enterprise standards and practices (and the roles and responsibilities associated with these activities). Last, but by no means least, the integration of people, processes and technologies have to be included if the plan is to drive long term high performance.

An enterprise-wide approach is a recurring theme in Accenture's research - from information integration to information security. There is little doubt that a comprehensive information management strategy enables companies to maintain a focus on both structured and unstructured data, including not just the toolsets but the supporting disciplines such as governance, security, access, sharing and storage. We are seeing a shift away from the silo approach towards a desire to introduce the kind of comprehensive integration and information management capabilities that cultivate a high-performance business.

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