Information, data, electronically stored information (ESI), records, documents, hard copy files, email, stuff—no matter what you call it; it’s all intellectual property that your organization pays individuals to produce, interpret, use and export to others. After people, it’s a company’s most valuable asset, and it has many CIOs, GCs and others responsible asking: What’s in that information; who controls it; and where is it stored?
In simplest terms, I believe that businesses exist to generate and use information to produce revenue and profit. If you’re willing to go along with me and think of information in this way as a commodity, we must also ask: How much does it cost to generate all that information? And, what’s the return on investment (ROI) for all that information?
The vast majority of information in an organization is not managed, not indexed, not backed up and, as you probably know or could guess, is rarely–if ever–accessed. Consider for a minute all the data in your company that is not centrally managed and not easily available. This data includes backup tapes, share drives, employee hard disks, external disks, USB drives, CDs, DVDs, email attachments sent outside the organization and hardcopy documents hidden away in filing cabinets.
Here’s the bottom line: If your company can’t find information or doesn’t know what it contains, it is of little value. In fact, it’s valueless.
Now consider the amount of money the average company spends on an annual basis for the production, use and storage of information. These expenditures span:
- Employee salaries. Most employees are in one way or another hired to produce, digest and act on information.
- Employee training and day-to-day help-desk support.
- Computers for each employee
- Email boxes
- Share drives, storage
- Backup systems
- IT employees for data infrastructure support
In one way or another, companies exist to create and utilize information. So… do you know where all your information is and what’s in it? What’s your organization’s true ROI on the production and consumption of your information in your entire organization? How much higher could it be if you had complete control if it?
As an example, I have approximately 14.5 GB of Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoint files, spreadsheets, and other types of files in different formats that I’ve either created or received from others. Until recently, I had 3.65 GB of emails in my email box both on the Exchange server and mirrored locally on my hard disk. Now that I have a 480 MB mailbox limit imposed on me, 3.45 GB of those emails are now on my local hard disk only.
How much real, valuable information is contained in the collective 18 GB on my laptop? The average number of pages of information contained in 1 GB is conservatively 10,000. So 18 GB of files equals approximately 180,000 pages of information for a single employee that is not easily accessible or searchable by my organization. Now also consider the millions of pages of hardcopy records existing in file cabinets, microfiche and long term storage all around the company.
The main question is this: What could my organization do with quick and intelligent access to all of its employees’ information?
The more efficient your organization is in managing and using information, the higher the revenue and hopefully profit per employee will be.
Organizations need to be able to “walk the fence” between not impeding the free flow of information generation and sharing, and having a way for the organization as a whole to find and use that information. Intelligent access to all information generated by an organization is key to effective information management.
Organizations spend huge sums of money to generate information…why not get your money’s worth? This future capability is the essence of true information management and much higher ROIs for your organization.