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?