One thing we are not short of in this society is information. A couple of generations have grown up with notions like "the information age" and "information is power". Governments, especially the current one, appear besotted with the idea that the more information that can be stored on everything and everyone the better. For whom? we might ask.
The problem for most organisations and the individuals who work for them is not a shortage of data but being able to evaluate what is useful and what is not, where to find the good stuff, and then how to exploit it effectively.
Our industry made the change from DP to IT (data processing to information technology) more than 20 years ago, so an outsider might be forgiven for wondering why we have not got the information management conundrum cracked by now.
But as Sharm Manwani points out on page 30, we still have a long way to go and he identifies problems such as too much focus on technology at the expense of management, a shortfall in information competency by general management, and the existence of four distinct information worlds.
Now a group of influential organisations is co-operating to "raise the bar" in information management by looking to a more integrated approach, improved skills and a better understanding of quality and processes.
The challenges of data quality, regulation, access and exploitation are rapidly increasing in urgency. For any organisation effective information management will make the difference between coping with a dreary burden or using information to gain clarity and build new opportunities.
* The galloping consolidation among enterprise software suppliers should give IT users pause for thought. Oracle's capture of Siebel, coming hard on the heels of its merger with PeopleSoft and Retek, is merely the most recent sign of the process.
For suppliers, consolidation brings an increased customer base, which it would be folly to drive away by forcing users onto new platforms. Oracle has made great efforts to keep PeopleSoft users happy. Nevertheless, the history of our industry shows users too often lose out in these situations.
More than ever we need independent user groups to share knowledge and present a united front to suppliers. The UK has several groups fighting for corporate and public sector users. They deserve to be supported as never before.