Wednesday, 14th April 2010
Tim Buckley Owen
Ninety-five per cent of organisations agree that strong information management is critical for business success, according to a new Forbes Insight report. Nevertheless, 85% of respondents to the latest annual Business Information Review survey report a downturn in information budgets and staff.
Forbes’s report, Managing Information in the Enterprise: Perspectives for Business Leaders (http://digbig.com/5bbkjf – registration required) focuses on the IT-related shortcomings associated with turning data into actionable information. BIR’s survey (purchase details at http://digbig.com/5bbkje) reports on the ‘increasing and imaginative ways that information services are adding value, including undertaking financial and analytical work’.
Forbes speaks of line-of-business executives and IT frequently disagreeing about the source of data-related problems and the potential solutions, with fragmented data ownership the single biggest roadblock. BIR finds that knowledge sharing is higher on the agendas of some of the organisations its expert panel members represent, and reports at least some examples of use of social technologies to facilitate it.
Almost 90% of the Forbes respondents agreed that unstructured data would be beneficial if it could be captured, organised and analysed, yet barely half were actually doing it. The BIR expert panel members also agreed that transforming undigested data into actual knowledge was highly desirable and, although they reported mixed attitudes to it among senior management, several mentioned applications in which they were involved in collaboration with IT.
Metrics, too, is a key concern of both reports. While there is general agreement about the cost of poor data quality, Forbes respondents are still unclear about how they can measure return on investment accurately for solutions available in the market.
BIR panellists also report the difficulties of measuring outcomes, yet some are making efforts to collect qualitative performance data. Survey compiler Allan Foster also mentions the narrative research methodology approach to business information purchasing currently being trialled by the Special Libraries Association in partnership with Shore (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e27757).
Several VIP reports figure in the BIR survey: the Economic Impact Research showing how information managers are making the best of free resources where possible, and the Survey on Outsourcing, whose findings neatly complement those of BIR (purchase details at http://web.freepint.com/go/shop/report/1488 and http://web.freepint.com/go/shop/report/1403 respectively). And when looking at the BIR panellists’ use of social technology, there’s also mention of Martin Belam’s FUMSI article on Trends for 2010 Information Sharing (http://web.fumsi.com/go/article/share/4395).
Of course it would be nonsense to suggest that information managers have all – or even most – of the answers to the problems cited in the Forbes report. But it’s still significant that, although the Forbes respondents acknowledge a ‘disturbing divergence between IT professionals and line-of-business executives on how to best manage information,’ information professionals as we understand them don’t even get a look-in.
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