If you look at the word intelligence, you may find Webster’s definition to include “the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria.” Imagine a world where there is no dependence upon system, platform or device in relation to information. This is what I mean by information intelligence: a time and place where everything, i.e., information, is connected seamlessly across an enterprise, managed in place wherever it resides and, not only can you find it, it finds you.

Information of a business nature is a corporate asset and, as such, should be made available to all those who have the need and are authorized to access it. In a sense, it should be self-sufficient with the environment becoming aware of user needs in ways that information entering the environment presents itself to the appropriate users. This straddles the concepts of knowledge management in that users should not have to search for information, but rather, information should search for the appropriate users. In this way, information becomes more intelligent about what it is, how it can be used and who can use it.

Information sharing

To a degree, information sharing through shared workspaces, cloud applications, workflows and a variety of other means using notifications is taking us there. Profiles are created for the team members, and when a change occurs or new material is added, they are notified and directed to the shared location to review and act upon the new materials.

In some cases, user profiles may be created in relation to case files. When information enters the environment, using analytics tools, the information is mapped against user requirements in the case profiles and the user is notified that information now exists that may be relevant to their specific case. This now brings us closer to a proactive information management environment combining analytics, automated capture and notifications. But what of a completely independent, intelligent information environment?

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What to think about

In order for intelligent information independence to become a reality, there must first be a definition of user information requirements. What type of information does each user require to reach the goals of his/her specific role in the organization? Once we understand that, what additional types of information may be related to or relevant for that user? For example, if a social case worker is managing a child abuse case and one of the members of the household associated with the child or children in the case happens to be arrested for substance abuse, should this information find the case worker? And how?

Systems across not only the social worker's information environment but those related to law enforcement and the corrections system must also be connected to the social worker’s environment. There must be a mechanism and technology in place to automatically capture, analyze and store incoming information. Once it is identified, the information must be mapped and matched to the criteria of the user community and case files, presenting itself to the case worker as potentially relevant.

In my view

Intelligent information, or at minimum, intelligent information management, is a possibility with increasing probability of accuracy as the system expands the reference or knowledge base. The more we teach it, the more efficient and effective it becomes. This was evident in the game show battle between Watson and humans. Based on the concepts of cognitive computing, IBM proved that Watson could learn and beat humans in this challenge. It is not a simple task, and in fact, Watson struggled a bit in some areas. The IBM team realized Watson needed to know the correct answer when a given answer was incorrect in order to learn. When Watson was provided the
correct answer along with incorrect answers as a reference, it acquired the knowledge needed to make more accurate assessments and decisions as to the correct answer. As a result, Watson won.

Now, I realize that businesses cannot afford a Watson, but the concepts are sound. Businesses can take note of the fact that using the proper tools and taking the proper approach, information can be intelligently managed in ways that business rules can be followed, and information can independently and transparently be shared across the enterprise. The key is to know what is needed and by whom. Once we have this, technology can be configured to automate information capture, analyze the content, store it in the appropriate repositories and notify all appropriate parties it exists and is now available.

This is not easy. It requires planning, expertise, commitment at all levels and dedicated resources to begin the journey toward intelligent information management. It also requires an ongoing commitment and effort focused on improving the systems and enhancing its knowledge base. You could begin with a focus on
inbound correspondence to capture inbound information at the first touchpoint and notify recipients of its availability. It’s a start! Think about it, and then take action.

Bob Larrivee is director of custom research at AIIM and an internationally recognized subject matter expert and thought leader with over 30 years of experience in the fields of information and process management. Follow him on Twitter @BobLarrivee.

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