The best thing about running an organization like the Information Governance Initiative (IGI) is hearing about success from information governance (IG) innovators–sometimes, weeks or even months before those stories are told publicly. In fact, some of the most innovative stories are never revealed at all for competitive reasons. So forgive me if I am sometimes annoyingly vague when you ask me, “So, what are organizations like ours doing with IG, right now?” Everywhere I look, I see amazing things happening, even if I can’t always share the details.

But today, I don’t need to be annoyingly vague. Well, I may still be annoying, but I, at least, won’t be vague. Today, I get to tell you about a large-scale, global success story powered by Active Navigation, an IGI Charter Supporter. At the IGI, we are zealous advocates for the transformative power of IG, and as part of that advocacy, we seek out success stories. Our community continually tells us this is the kind of information they need.

Here's the story.

Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies, is using Active Navigation to remediate over a petabyte of unstructured content (over a billion files) that is spread out over five continents. So far, they have found that at least 40% of it can be thrown away or archived.

However, the most interesting part of the story is the deal structure. Rio Tinto and Active Navigation designed a shared risk/reward approach, where the vendor only gets paid when it delivers. The money flows when the vendor identifies content that can be deleted or archived to Amazon Web Services, but it also gets paid when it identifies the good stuff–the content that has true value to the business. In other words, Active Navigation is compensated for generating customer value, whether that value comes from identifying chaff or identifying wheat.

Also interesting is that Rio Tinto plans on using this approach not only for legacy content cleanup but also as part of a continuous, ongoing IG process.

Rio Tinto projects $2 million in cost savings and cost avoidance in the first year of the program, and they have only just begun. Like most organizations, the company has experienced dramatic growth in the scale and complexity of its information environment, and much of that growth and complexity was found in the form of documents and other unstructured content found in network shared drives.

However, the value for Rio Tinto is not just in the savings and cost avoidance, even though $2 million is not just walking-around money. Rather, it is in building a permanent, ongoing process to ensure that its unstructured information environment provides value to the organization by becoming–and remaining–fast, organized, useable, accessible and risk-managed.

This is the first time I have seen a vendor and customer in the IG space working together to find a business model so clearly focused on results. It clearly demonstrates the importance of building and executing IG in a way that works within the business process, not outside of it.

IG practitioners and providers: take note.
Too often, IG projects are driven by fear, ignorance, tradition, superstition and supposition. In other words, they are not real projects. They are not driven by data or even by results. They are driven by sky-is-falling and vague, hand-waving about risk. The credibility gap that IG and its sub-disciplines sometimes suffer from the decision-making layer derives directly from this problem. Business leaders can smell projects like this all the way from the meeting rooms they emanate from—projects that the business should do just because they should, not because the benefit can be quantified or even evaluated. While this approach may result in the much-discussed “quick wins” (blech), it will not provide long-term returns. Or, put another way, a dog that fears you might obey you, but it will never love you.

This deal points the way to the future of IG. One that is business-driven. One that provides measurable results and clear value. One that paves the way for data-driven business models. One that empowers organizations to fulfill their potential.

I look forward to bringing you more stories like this.

Barclay T. Blair is an advisor to Fortune 500 companies, software and hardware vendors and government institutions, and is an author, speaker and internationally recognized authority on information governance. This content originally appeared on Barclay T. Blair's LinkedIn Posts. Follow him on Twitter @btblair or visit

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