Five years ago, in March 2009, I first published an eBook called "Making the Case for Information Governance." In the eBook I discussed—among other things—how to define information governance (IG), provided some sample definitions from various groups and said that words don't really matter, just the concepts. Since then, I have had this conversation well, I don't know, roughly five quadrillion times.

In 2009, I didn't realize how ahead of the market I was. Most of the clients I deal with today are only hearing about IG for the first time, and are just trying to understand it, much less do it. For most outside of the records information management (RIM) and e-discovery markets—IG is a new term (but not a new concept, really).
"Information governance is the activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing associated risks and costs."

One of my goals in founding the Information Governance Initiative was to provide a home for a discussion to happen that will move us forward. Namely, a discussion among the people who own some piece of the information puzzle. Not just RIM and e-discovery, but also management, data analytics, business intelligence, infrastructure, data quality and other parts of the organization focused on information value.

The new Information Governance Initiative definition
The world doesn't really need another definition of information governance. Definitions certainly are important–we have to speak the same language to have a conversation. But the words used to define IG are less important than the concepts. And the precise definition you use is less important than having a common understanding among your IG team.

We hope to provide a starting point for that common understanding in the form of a definition that has broad support from the information governance community. So,with the help of the IGI community, we are today advancing a definition of information governance.



We proposed this definition to our community as part of our upcoming 2014 Annual Report, and they overwhelmingly supported it. 93% said they agreed with the definition. Remarkably, as the infographic shows, there was also incredibly strong agreement among those who provide IG products and services, those who consume them and those who cover the space. This agreement shows that the IG market is starting to mature and bodes well for IG practitioners. We have already been testing out our definition in some of our advocacy work.

If you find value in our definition, then use it. If not, find a way to define IG in your organization that will maximize the chance of IG being taken up as a central concept in the way you manage information. In either case, join us in mapping the way forward.

Further thoughts on definitions

Keep in mind that you are really asking at least three separate questions when you ask, “What is information governance?”

1. The Concept: What is IG? Impressions regarding the central ideas and organizing principles of IG. To date, most public discussion of IG has happened at this level, which is to be expected, given the relative immaturity of IG as a distinguishable pursuit or discipline. The definition we are providing today hits this level.

2. The Market: What do I buy? The conceptualization of IG as a market for products and services. We did not attempt a market sizing as we believe that is a domain well-covered by analyst firms, but we were curious about whether IG is perceived as a market, and if so, what the dimensions of that market are. Our upcoming 2014 Annual Report will address this level.

3. The Work: What do I do? The dimensions of IG as an activity that is undertaken by organizations. IG as an operational model. What are people doing, and how are they doing it? What are their plans? Our upcoming 2014 Annual Report will also address this level.


Stay tuned to the IGI blog for more infographics and PPT decks in the coming weeks as we leak key data from our 2014 Annual Report ahead of its official publication in August 2014.


This content originally appeared on the Barclay T. Blair Blog: Essays in Information Governance (and more). For more information, visit



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