What is Trusted Information?

I’ve always defined information as the combination of two types which can be expressed as a Data + Content = Information.  Data, also known as structured data is what can usually found in rows and tables of databases.  Content is defined as unstructured data (or everything not living in databases).  In simple terms, content can be images, media files, documents, spreadsheets, PDFs … you get the idea.  I’ve heard it said before that structured data can tell you the who, what, where and when of what happened but only unstructured can tell you the how and why … which is usually the most important part.  Together they represent the full context of any information scenario.  If you are reading this, you probably already subscribe to this line of thinking and also agree the two worlds are colliding as enterprises mature in how they manage and govern both types of information.  Over the next few blog postings, I plan to discuss Information Governance … the how … and the why … the two worlds are coming together and key strategies to address it.

You’ve probably all seen the statistics … 42% of managers say they inadvertently use the wrong information at least once per week and so on.  In this day and age … how is this possible?  Would you want your doctor making a decision about your life based on the wrong, or older version, of treatment guidance?  “Oh nurse, where did we put that updated information on how to treat this illness?”  It sounds absurd, but that’s exactly how most enterprises manage their information assets, particularly their content.  What are we missing here?

The answer is trust.  We need trust.  We need to be able to find the correct (or trusted) information, at the right time, when we are making decisions.  Considering the average information worker spends 14.5 hours reading and answering email, 13.3 hours creating documents, 9.6 hours searching for information, 9.5 hours analyzing information … this is a big deal.

So let’s start by defining it … Trusted Information is information that has business value requiring its governance and retention.  It has the properties of:

  • Authority:  it is up-to-date and recognized as the reference copy of the relevant information.
  • Authenticity:  it is what it says it is and can be linked back to its source.
  • Reliability:  it can be trusted as a full and accurate representation of the relevant facts, transaction or business process.
  • Integrity:  it is complete, unaltered and preserves context and chain of custody.
  • Usability:  it is accessible, and can be located, retrieved, presented and interpreted.

Trusted information must also be governed and lifecycle-managed from trusted environments such as repositories of record.  If the environment itself can’t be trusted, then neither can the information.

I’ll be going into more detail in the coming weeks, starting with storing information in trusted repositories, but in the mean time, do you agree with the above or have a different definition of trusted information?

Impact of the Cloud on ECM … a New Perspective

I spent a fair abount of time with one of our major Enterprise Content Management (ECM) customers this week on “the cloud”.  Not a shocker … but this topic has alot of hype associated with it.  However, this customer has a clear vision for using “the cloud” and sees it as a mechanism to elminate many of their internal barriers to broader ECM adoption (and greater ROI).  They plan to move most of their ECM projects into the cloud as soon as they possibly can.  What?  Why?  How?

Some background … this customer has invested substantially in ECM technologies over the years and has a variety of vendors deployed.  IBM including FileNet, Documentum, Mobius and a few others.  They have grown by acquisition, and like many acquisitive companies, have a less then ideal spaghetti-like IT infrastructure with too many overlapping ECM vendors and solutions.  They are doing everything from imaging, workflow automation, enterprise report magement, document management to records management.  Most notably, they have a top down mandate to take significant costs out a large number of business processess and to go paperless.  Due to their acquisition pace and a number of other factors, this customer has been unable to mature their ECM practice and infrastrucuture to the point of offering a shared services platform, standardized provisioning and packages, internal billing, etc … in short everthing is a one-off.

Enter the cloud … this customer is basically at a fork in the road … they can figure out a shared services model, provisioning, billing and a whole host of things themselves (sounds like fun) not to mention the capex obstacles they are facing … or … leverage prepackaged private cloud services with all that built-in and ready to go.  In their case … the path forward is clear.  The cloud will simplify and acclerate adoption of ECM whle also accelerating the cost reduction and paper elimination requirements they need to achieve in the support of the mandate.

What do you think … are they a trend setter and an indicator of things to come or an anomaly?

Film Noir Technology Product Marketing

Most technology product marketing these days reminds me of those old Humphrey Bogart detective movies made in the style of “Film Noir” (dark somber tones permeated with a feeling of despair, disillusionment, pessimism and despair) … or at least that’s how I feel after thumbing though today’s technology magazines and browsing my competitors websites and marketing brochures.  I do this as part of my competitive intelligence and profiling process (more on the importance of tracking and profiling competitors in a future post).  Despite the necessity and importance of profiling, the whole process is really a recipe for The Big Sleep (pun intended) in that it is just not that exciting.  All of the solutions sound the same. I imagine everyone is guilty of this from time-to-time but it’s really getting riduculous … a regular “marketing crime spree” if you will.  No original ideas and plenty of copycat messages.  Every vendor seems to make the same claims about their solutions (whether true or not) and they all use the same buzz words … cloud this … compliance that … which makes one wonder how an actual customer can be expected to understand and know the truth among all the misleading claims, hype and outright lies?