Data and Information Management

Protecting an Important Organizational Asset

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A client has just contacted you with a billing question, but, while you can view her bill, you can't access her order because it's held on a sales database that isn't synced with yours.

To help her, you need to speak with someone on the sales team, but he's out in the field, and three days pass before you have the information you need to resolve the issue. By this time, the customer is understandably upset.

Data and information management isn't just the responsibility of your IT department; it affects everyone in an organization. It can determine how well you communicate with your customers, how safe and secure your data is, how safe your customers are, and how efficiently everyone can meet their goals and achieve performance metrics.

In this article, we'll look at why data and information management can be so important, and we'll explore ways that you can organize data more effectively in your organization.

Note:

This is highly important in many businesses (for example, in banking), but is not as relevant in others (for example, in a design agency). Use your own best judgment when thinking about data and information management within your own organization.

What Is Data and Information Management?

The Data Management Association (DAMA) defines data and information management as "… the development, execution, and supervision of plans, policies, programs, and practices that control, protect, deliver, and enhance the value of data and information assets."

Data management has existed in some form since the 1950s. It emerged in the late 1970s as a distinct discipline when information began to move from paper to tape, and then to disk. Over the past decade, data management has become important for organizations of all sizes, in many different industries.

The Importance of Data Management

Effective data and information management is a concern for many organizations. The amount of digital information in the world is increasing tenfold every five years, and organizations are having a difficult time managing this data and keeping it secure.

In a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, fewer than 10 percent of organizations use documented processes to manage their data, and fewer than one in three organizations claim confidence in their own data.

The consequences of poorly managed data can be significant. Consider the following examples:

  • Financial losses: Your organization's headquarters are flooded unexpectedly. Your backup system is outdated, and, as a result, you lose months of data, worth millions of dollars to your organization.
  • Litigation risk: Hackers access your customer database, which includes addresses and credit card numbers. These customers are now at risk of identity theft, and they decide to sue you for violation of their privacy.
  • Excess data storage costs: Your organization has no process for data cleansing – replacing or deleting inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated information. Consequently, your data storage costs and IT resource needs double each year.
  • Inefficient workflow processes: Your team members can't find the information that they need to do their work, because each department has its own database, and none of these systems communicate with one another.
  • Missed opportunities: Your sales reps struggle to access the inventory database, which informs them of product availability and delivery dates. Competitors win sales from you, because they have immediate access to this information.
  • Brand/reputation loss: Customers are frustrated, because departments can't communicate effectively with one another. As a result, your organization's reputation and sales suffer.
  • Negative press/publicity: One of your team members loses their laptop, which contains information about a well-known client. As a result, your organization receives negative media coverage and you lose a number of clients.

Put simply, when you can't get your hands on the information you need, or when the information you have isn't protected appropriately, you can miss opportunities, your performance drops, your projects and customers suffer, and you lose competitive advantage.

Security is a key element in data management. The 2013 Global State of Information Security Survey reports that although more than 70 percent of organizations surveyed are "very” or "somewhat” confident in their information security strategies, that confidence has declined steadily since 2008. Data theft and security issues are increasing each year, leading to financial losses, intellectual property theft, identity fraud, and compromised reputations.

Improving Your Information Management

If effective data and information management is important within your industry, then...

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