What is the value of your organisation? Do you place a value only on fixed tangible assets? It has been estimated that the intangible assets of many companies can be approximately two-thirds of the total. What value do you place on the intangible elements you hold such as documents, emails, websites, more importantly what is the knowledge value?
It has been estimated that Knowledge Capital comprises of approximately 64%, nearly two- thirds of the average company’s value. This represents a rich source in terms of a capital asset.
Your company may have easily counted assets that are reflected on your balance sheet: money, bricks and mortar, stock and even debtors. The value put on a company by the stock market reflects the future profits a buyer expects to be able to make from the company, often not just the value of the company’s tangible assets.
Often the difference between an organisation’s tangible assets and its total value is the ‘Knowledge Capital’. Knowledge Capital may be held in three forms: tacit, intangible, or, tangible. Tacit knowledge is the hidden knowledge that is built into your processes, products, culture, and people’s skills. Implicit knowledge are those things that your staff know, but that they have not yet built into your processes, shared with others or documented. Explicit knowledge is documented and recorded in information object such as documents, film and images.
Success in managing the intangible value of your organisation will directly rely on your success in managing your approach to the value of information value — Enterprise Information Management.
The principle of “managing information as an asset” must be clearly understood and defined in the business context; otherwise, it will become yet another “fluffy” initiative with little chance of success. Developing an Enterprise Information Strategy will ensure that the management of information has a clear relationship with other strategic priorities.
Information is woven through the fabric of the modern organisation and consequently enterprise information management must have a broad reach throughout the organisation. Enterprise Information Management and its components are known by many labels. Enterprise Information Management is all these things:
- Content Management
- Information Architecture
- Better Reporting
- Management of structured information
- Workflow Management
- Document Records Management Systems
- Record Keeping Systems
Enterprise lnformation Management can help create greater value for your organisation. It can do this in many concrete ways, including:
Developing intellectual capital in the organisation is a direct result of improved collaboration between units, individuals and the supply chain. Developing enterprise information capabilities can provide a horizontal view across the organisation, rather than limiting the information views to vertical processing systems. Enterprise Information can provide the level of data integration to enable these horizontal views.
Improving data quality
A concentration on information management will result in improvements in data quality. Better quality data is more timely, a better fit for purpose, more reliable and more able to be related across enterprises, eliminating information silos.
Improving the customer relationship and customer service
The more you know about your customers, their business and what they demand from you, the more accurate your picture can be of their needs and motivations. The likely consequence is that you will win and keep these customers. Enterprise Information Management can provide many of the tools you need to paint these pictures. Managing information at an enterprise level can also help in trend identification and analysis by providing structure to the method used in collecting and processing data.
How can these benefits be achieved?
There are four immediate steps that you can take to improve your Enterprise Information Management.
First, recognise the need for effective information management. It can be useful to understand current pain points within the organisation that are a result of poorly managed information.
Second, actively manage your information, by
- Finding it
- Organising it; and
- Disseminating it
Third, commit to provide the support that Enterprise Information Management requires.
Finally, work to improve your organisation’s information management capabilities.
How can we actively manage our information?
Understand how information is used within the organisation.
This is often best done by taking an systematic approach – understanding business information pain points, identifying solutions to specific business problems and using a framework to resolve these problems.
Ultimately the approach should provide tangible, recognisable benefits to the organisation. Too often Enterprise Information Management initiatives fail because they fail to produce results which demonstrate direct value to the business. Developing an overarching strategy, and applying a consistent methodology for resolving information problems can provide visibility to initiatives and help engender support for further initiatives.
These initiatives should be aligned with the overall business strategy and efforts should be focused on achieving legitimate business goals.
Ensure the right people are involved
When considering Enterprise Information Management initiatives it is crucial to ensure that business functions and line management is involved, as these are the people most likely to generate intellectual capital and improve the overall value of the organisation’s information asset. Initiatives too often fail because they are just another technology project. Information Management should be a core competency of line managers across the organisation, and building this capability is critical to long term success.
Incorporate unstructured information
Generally the domain of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), unstructured data represents almost three quarters of an organisation’s information asset. This data includes assets that have been developed during the execution of or in support of business processes and can include word processing outputs, spreadsheets, email messages and web pages. Generally, this information reflects the majority of an organisation’s knowledge capital.
The real value of an organisation is in its people and in what those people know.
There are a number of perspectives on unstructured data – whether it even exists. For example an image, generally classified as unstructured, usually has EXIF data (metadata) attached to it which is more structured than many common records in a traditional database. Incorporating a holistic view of information assets and using a methodology which gives the organisation a common and consistent language and tools for dealing with all information types is critical if confusion is to be avoided.
Regardless of the term that is used, there are many techniques for understanding your unstructured assets and integrating or federating the information for use within the organisation. These techniques can include popular (and increasingly common given the pervasiveness of the web and it’s self-organising nature) methods such as tagging, topic mapping and visualisation. Some of these techniques can even be automated to provide a starting point for organising your information.
The majority of an organisation’s value lies in its intangible assets. Estimates of the value of intangible assets held by organisations vary but most put the value of intangible assets at around two-thirds of the organisations total value.
Enterprise Information Management is all about managing a large part of this hidden value. Information is woven through the fabric of the modern organisation and consequently enterprise information management must have a broad reach throughout the organisation.
Your success in managing the intangible value of your organisation will directly rely on your success in managing your information representation of this value — your organisation’s Enterprise Information Management. If you are not practicing Enterprise Information Management, you are ignoring a big part of the source of your organisation’s value.