Valuing Information Management

October 28th, 2015

I recently read the new report published by PwC and Iron Mountain, "Seizing the information advantage: how organizations can unlock insight and value from the information they hold" where the concept of the "Information Value Index" was introduced and am re-thinking my approach to discussing the value or benefits of good information management.

I frequently speak with organizational leaders and one of the biggest challenges we face is to the impact of improved information management for their organization. Sure, there is the 2012 IDC study that states the average information worker wastes 6 hours each week dealing with challenges related to personal productivity (searching for/not finding documents, pulling information from multiple formats into one document, dealing with problems/challenges arising from paper documents, recreating documents), but it often becomes unbelievable when you extrapolate it for a dollar value for their organization. Leaders frequently agree that the problem is bad, but don't agree on just how bad.

Questions also arise around what you would do with those cost savings, and rather than recommending staff lay-offs, I always advocate that it will free the employees up to do value-add activities. That means that without eliminating staff, there actually aren't any direct cost savings. Perhaps some of their value-add activities will result in operational efficiencies, but the lineage becomes too thin to use as justification for undertaking a program or projects to improve information management. This takes me back to my original dilemma of trying to quantify the impact of improved information management.

When I first heard the term "Information Value Index", I was hopeful that someone had finally solved the problem of quantifying the impact of poor information management. However, the PwC/Iron Mountain report doesn't do that as directly as I hoped. Instead, they state that the "purpose behind the Information Value Index is to investigate the

  • Level of awareness and priority that businesses currently assign to deriving value from the information that they hold;
  • Extent to which organizational processes, governance arrangements and culture are sufficiently aligned to meeting this objective;
  • Skills, tools and methods deployed to extract value; and
  • Benefits achieved as a result."

While the PwC/Iron Mountain report didn't solve my dilemma of quantifying the impact of poor information management, it is encouraging me to think differently about it. Rather than assigning a dollar figure to poor information management ("it is costing you $x/year") or to improved information management ("you can expect to save $x/year"), maybe we need to take a fresh approach when talking about value and ask some different questions.

The top five benefits identified in the PwC/Iron Mountain study are:

  • "Significantly improved productivity
  • Greater customer experience leading to improved retention and increased sales
  • Much more effective and faster business decision-making based on hard evidence
  • Greater ability to identify new product development opportunities based on customer insight
  • Greater ability to identify potential new customers"

With that in mind, I think that the discussions with leaders should be more focused on their business and what it would mean to them if they could realize one or more of the benefits. My goal will be to help the organizations that I work with connect the dots between the benefits that they want with their information management practices…and in a measurable or quantifiable way.

Written by Tara Dragon.