This article appears in the Spring 2019 digital issue of DOCUMENT Strategy. Subscribe.

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    At the very heart of all the buzz surrounding “big data” and artificial intelligence (AI) lies a universal truth: Information is the critical asset of every organization. Information flows through people and applications at such a rapid pace that it demands effective management. Enterprises are flying blind if they don’t have an information management strategy.

    It is impossible to understand customer needs and improve their experiences without the right information feeding decision-making systems. Without proper information management, employee engagement is doomed. If you don’t understand your people and their needs, the workplace culture will suffer. This information needs to be aggregated and cleansed to be of any benefit to business analytics systems and AI initiatives, however. As a result, it behooves every enterprise to pay serious attention to developing an information management strategy.

    With the rise of the digital business, a new wave of information flows across the organization and through multiple networks has emerged. Today, information flows between people, applications, and devices, essentially becoming digital content. As it moves through an organization, it multiplies exponentially as metadata is added along the way, and thus, its meaning and value grows as well. While increasing volumes of data doesn’t necessarily mean more value, it does require enterprises to understand the full context of that data to determine what is valuable in the organization.

    As the value of information grows, enterprises will need to protect and manage it, applying the proper governance to ensure control. For some heavily regulated enterprises, such as government and financial services, information life cycle management and governance are critical.

    “A true digital business has to focus on consistency and availability of information, with the end goal of enhancing the customer experience.”

    In the digital age, managing information is a very complex and complicated endeavor. Enterprises have to think not only about mobile devices and cloud-based data storage, but they now have to account for the Internet of things (IoT) and a multitude of connected devices, including wearables with built-in sensors collecting data. Therefore, enterprises have to evaluate solutions, services, and platforms that will enable them to effectively manage information throughout its life cycle.

    A grand purpose for information management is information availability and the ability to glean critical insights from it, liberating the value of enterprise data to improve business productivity and gain competitive advantage. Information management solutions have to be effective in breaking down data so it’s understandable. In this form, enterprises can extract useful insights and recognize patterns and trends.

    A true digital business has to focus on consistency and availability of information, with the end goal of enhancing the customer experience. Therefore, information has to be in context, consistently captured, and managed throughout its life cycle in order to empower business decisions. Since information management involves every area of the business, enterprises will need better business alignment around the customer experience.

    Enterprises have to recognize that they are now media companies. Managing information will be critical in how they articulately tell their story via multiple media channels. These days, the story will be told for you if you don’t proactively control your own narrative. The bottom line is that effective information management will dictate critical decisions for both internal- and external-facing processes that bring the intersection of employees and customers into context.

    David Mario Smith is Founder and Principal Analyst at InFlow Analysis. Dave is a Gartner veteran of over 16 years and an IT industry professional with 20 years of experience in the collaboration and workplace technology markets. For more information, visit http://inflowanalysis.com or follow him on Twitter @DaveMario.