The value we can extract from information stems from how well we are able to leverage that information. One of the key benefits of the digital workplace model is found in increasing the ROI of business information.
Understand the value of information quality and knowledge sharing
In its Info Entrepreneurs blog, the Canada Business
Network talks about the “knowledge advantage” – harnessing the many forms of knowledge that exist in a business “in a coherent and productive way.” Forms of important knowledge include:
- The experience of your employees
- The designs and processes for your goods and services
- Your files of documents (whether held digitally, on paper, or both)
- Your plans for future activities, such as ideas for new products or services
They recommend that organizations “take a strategic approach to discovering, collating, and sharing” information via a knowledge strategy. As we noted in our earlier discussion of digital workplaces, the usefulness of information depends on its relevance, timeliness, and reliability – i.e., its quality – as well as its accessibility.
For a digital workplace strategy to be successful, it needs to be supported by an overarching plan for managing the information, unstructured content, and data that form an organization’s body of knowledge.
Maximize information quality
Just as people should be the focus of the digital workplace, people are likewise central to ensuring the quality of information. In his 10 principles of effective information management, James Robertson, Managing Director of Step Two, emphasizes the importance of people in effective and successful information management. The people who generate or otherwise shape information need to understand the processes for managing information. Robertson notes the importance of clearly communicating the purpose of their participation
and “identifying the ‘what’s in it for me’ factors” for employees, along with making sure that the systems involved are “useful and usable for staff.”
We also need to be realistic about the amount effort these initiatives require of our end users. We cannot attain a “critical mass of usage” if users are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time conforming to process. The more that can be automated, the less we must ask of our users. The less we ask of our users in terms of compliance, the more value their work is able to provide the organization.
Plan for information governance
A plan for information governance may sound complex and onerous to develop and implement, but it is absolutely vital to protecting the value of an organization’s information. The Information Governance Initiative defines information governance as “the activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing associated risks and costs.”
The delineation of an information hierarchy, information lifecycle, and retention and disposition
policies should be rooted in the priorities of the business and tied to its knowledge strategy, as well as support compliance with any applicable regulations. You must establish rules and processes to implement the governance policies.
Rules-driven process automation, enabled through technology, can keep implementing these vital controls from becoming burdensome to the creators/users of content and provide for consistent application of governance rules across all sources of business information, including transactional systems.
Ensure user adoption: Speed, accuracy, and ease of access are key
Leveraging business information for maximum return depends in large part on effective information management, including consistent governance and an “all hands on deck” approach to ensuring quality. Data-driven process improvements are most successful when the time between data collection and dissemination is kept to a minimum. Business decision-making is enhanced when the organization’s systems of record are in sync, and valuable time is not spent ascertaining which version of the truth should be respected.
By managing information in a consistent manner and breaking down barriers across information silos (ERP, HR, Corporate Communications, etc.), we can create digital workspaces that improve collaboration with higher levels of knowledge sharing and operational intelligence.
For more about digital workplaces, view the other posts in this series:
The Digital Workplace: Collaboration is only the beginning
Digital Workplace Checklist: Improve the value of your information
Digital Workplace Checklist: Create a one-stop shop
By Cynthia Wood