To hear some people tell it, the future of information governance is a complex, frightening place to ponder. The volume of information we have to deal with is exploding, the mix of technologies we need to keep track of is changing, and just what do we call all this, anyway?!
Well, I have good news: it’s really not so complicated.
Here are a few simple principles to keep in mind as the clock winds forward:
- First, understand that what we’re dealing with is all information. Once we quit trying to distinguish data from content from records from knowledge, the better off we’ll be because they all should be handled in pretty much the same way. The tools used to handle them, however, may (and probably should) be very different, but that’s a story for another day.
- Second, understand that your thinking must be about business first, and then technology. “First the why, then the how,” I like to say. For if you don’t fully consider up front what you need the technology to do, how will you know which one will work?
- Third, be sure to manage by consequence, not by medium. Specifically, understand that it’s the information that carries the weight; paper, fiche, Web, PDF, voice, etc. are merely substrates that carry it. So don’t fixate on the medium when it comes to access control, privacy, security, and the like, for the medium is all but irrelevant.
- Seek Maximum Total Value® at every turn. Don’t settle for technology that “kinda” works; demand solutions that actually meet your needs, and can grow with you. Similarly, don’t allow your information to lay fallow once you’re captured it; use it to serve your customers better, or improve your processes, or otherwise further your business.
- Understand that there is a dark underside to the shiny technological coins that are available to us today. The same tools that allow us easier information access and facilitate systems interoperability also represent a greater potential for mischief should a bad guy breach your firewall or hack your cloud provider. So in the time-tested words of the Boy Scouts, “be prepared.”
There’s no question that this is an exciting time to be alive and working in the information spaces. We’re in the midst of new ways to capture, work with, share, and consume information; from anywhere, on demand. The emergence of disruptive technologies like blockchain promise to redefine the work we do, and the rapid mainstreaming of artificial intelligence promises to relieve us of a lot of our work burden.
Our challenge is to be sure we grasp and absorb what’s compelling about these developments, and how they can help us further our objectives. Though this requires more than a bit of braincycling to do right, it doesn’t mean we should fear the options that are available to us. To the contrary, maintaining a focus on what we need should make the future much easier to deal with.