What is Info Gov? Information Governance is easy to explain. It simply means taking control of all of your information. Like most things that sound simple, Information Governance is in reality, complex. Businesses are flooded every day with information that has to be processed, stored and retrieved.
Getting this wrong means the costs to your business can be huge. Not just in terms of complying with the growing regulatory environments surrounding most industries, or in dealing effectively with potential litigation, but also through the inability to gain maximum value from your business information to drive product innovation, increased sales and customer service.
The volume of data in existence is growing exponentially. The digital universe has been forecast to expand tenfold between 2013 and 2020. Less than two years later it will have doubled again. Within many companies the growth rate will be much greater than this.
In the past, many organisations have attempted to handle this data through a mix of Information Management and Records Management, but these are just tactical initiatives that can no longer fully address both the volume and type of information every company is exposed to:
Structured and Unstructured Data
Structured data resides in fixed data fields and is held within systems such as corporate databases, ERPs, eCommerce and Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) applications. Unstructured data doesn’t follow a specified data format and makes up the vast volume of data found in most companies, usually in documents such as presentations and emails.
Electronic and Paper Documents
The idea of the ‘paperless office’ has been around for many years and most companies still aren’t close to achieving it! In fact, a recent survey showed that 42% of companies stated that the amount of paper in their business was still increasing. As with all the company’s electronic data, this paper information has to be stored and then retrieved when required.
Internal and External Data
Managing an organisation’s information was complex enough when it could safely be held behind the firewall. This is no longer the case, however as the growth of social media has seen the emergence of new communication channels where employees engage with customers, suppliers and partners. This information can impact the organisation and has to be managed. In addition, employees to use their personal communications devices at work – known as Bring Your On Device (BYOD) – which places corporate information where the organisation has little control over it, at risk of data protection and information security issues.
Digital, Video and Audio Data
It’s not just the volume of data, the range of communications channels and number of devices that are growing. It is also the formats in which data is presented. Video has become a much more commonly used format for business with the growth of video conferencing, webinars and rich media websites. Capturing the information within telephone conversations is also commonplace and essential in areas such as Financial Services and the delivery of Healthcare services.
To effectively manage all of this information for the benefit of the entire organisation there needs to be an over-arching strategy that provides the necessary guidance and control of how information is acquired, processed, managed, stored, retrieved and deleted. Info Gov determines how an organisation – and the people within it – use the data it has to create information that is of value to the business.
To be successful, an Info Gov programme must:
- Control the information lifecycle from acquisition or creation to disposal and destruction
- Prepare, implement and communicate policies and procedures for information usage
- Know what information is held, where it is and in what format
- Know the quality of the information and its exact value to the business
- Know how the information is stored and what is required to use it
- Know when the information can be archived and when it can be ‘defensibly’ be deleted
- Ensure information is available when and where it is required
- Ensure information is secure with secure access and confidentiality maintained
- Equip people within the organisation to comply through communication and training
- Be flexible and able to evolve to meet the changing information formats and
- Be based on the principle of continuous improvement