Structuring data for business advantage

Data management is an opportunity, not a burden

Information management has become an industry buzzword for the consolidation of any type of information, be it governance information, architecture information or integration information.

Executives find themselves awake at night worrying about what is happening with their data. These concerns are justified given the numerous stores of data, the different places where it exists, and the recent raft of related legislation.

Getting value from data

But it appears that these worries could soon be addressed. New research suggests that CIOs share a vision for using information management to obtain value from data and gain competitive advantage. CIOs surveyed by Accenture said they had 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 information management brings to their business.

The hurdles CIOs face in achieving this are funding and data quality, with technology seen as only a small obstacle owing to the maturity of the tools available.

When asked what the main driver behind adopting an integrated approach to accessing and analysing data was, more than 60% said it was to achieve competitive differentiation through new markets, more revenue and innovation. Asked to rank the ways in which information brings business value, "better analysis and decision making" was the top choice for respondents.

Business intelligence and improving the management of data are seen as sources of differentiation. Nearly 30% of respondents indicated that business intelligence, datawarehousing, data management and data architecture would receive investment in the next 12 to 18 months.

Integrated approach

The research backs up the idea of an enterprise-wide, integrated approach to managing and creating value from an organisation's diverse information assets.

This approach acknowledges all types of data, structured and unstructured, internal and external. The entire information cycle - including acquisition, storage, integration and analysis - needs to be considered a business asset.

The technology needed for managing information must also be considered, along with ensuring security, governance and enterprise standards. The integration of people, processes and technologies also has to be included if the plan is to drive long-term performance gains.

There is little doubt that a comprehensive information management strategy enables companies to maintain a focus on both structured and unstructured data.

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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