Has Your Information “Grown Up” Yet?
Managing information is a bit like bringing up a child.
“What?” I hear you ask. Well, let me explain…
I had the pleasure of attending the recent AIIM ELC session on mobility in London. The conversation centered around information, how to mobilize it and, of course, how to secure it. So my mind went off on one of its regular tangents.
I should start by saying, having five children, I feel like somewhat of an authority on this. But from an information management perspective, I’ve got a little experience with it, too.
Your information needs to be secure – just like a new born baby needs protection and care. You create a safe environment (nursery room or on-premises IT infrastructure) because you want to make sure that no harm comes to your pride and joy.
A lot of organizations are still at this point in the information journey – battening down the hatches to protect what they have.
That’s fine – but at some point your baby becomes a toddler and wants to explore a little. So, you allow that, but within given confines. You hide all of the electrical cables, put locks on the cupboards and cover the edges of cabinets. Oh, and you are there to make sure that whenever he topples over you can pick him up and give him a cuddle to make him feel better.
The information management equivalent of this might be an extra/intranet. This is the starting point of any organization’s information liberation journey. You allow access to corporate information, but only within a very guarded environment, and offer up the first exciting steps towards full information access and sharing. This is a fun time in your baby’s development – and also for an organization, as new demands and expectations lead to a lot of new toys and learning experiences!
Then comes school.
Arrghh. What do you do? Your baby is leaving home for the first time properly and it’s a bit scary. But the changes that you see in your child now are massive. They develop at a rate that is unprecedented as they encounter the big, wide world for the first time, gaining new friends and skills on an almost daily basis.
This feels a lot like mobile enabling your organization. You are now moving your information outside of your comfort zone, but still into a well-regulated and defined environment. And the benefits to be found here (such as increased and location-independent access to corporate information, dynamic integration to business processes from multiple devices and the enablement of business-focused social media) are massive, too!
But there is one final hurdle left – adulthood.
What happens when your offspring, who seems to have grown so quickly, is ready to leave home? Well, you could sit down in the corner and bawl your eyes out, or you could embrace the fact that you have raised a wonderful person who is now ready to experience life to the fullest on his own. The benefits you’ll get from keeping a watchful, but remote, eye on his progress will be massive. Yes, you’ll still be there should anything go wrong, but all things being equal, your child has grown up.
In IT terms, it means you’ve moved your information to the cloud! You’ve set your information free: You’ve given it the best start in life, it knows how to behave in public and it’s now ready to grow on its own.
Yes it’s scary. But again, the benefits to be had from this are massive. And of course, all of the benefits are cumulative, much like your adult child –you’ve still got intra and extranets, mobility and all the associated toys.
So, how mature is your organization on this scale? Do you have infant or teenage information? Is your organization ready to set your data free? And are you in a position to do that?
If so, fantastic – welcome to the information democracy. If not – well, you’ve got two choices. You can seek expert help and assistance from an established cloud vendor or you can sit in the corner and cry.