Governance Is Dead; Long Live Information Governance

By Bryant Duhon posted 06-24-2014 16:35


We hate information governance. We love information governance. Wait, it’s data governance. Everyone needs to do it. No one is “really” doing it. It’s just records management in disguise. It sounds an awful lot like enterprise content management. It doesn’t matter to the C-suite. You need to make it matter to the C-suite. It’s boring. It’s hard. It’s exciting. It’s this; it’s that; it’s confusing.

After spending 24 hours immersed in discussion of information governance in our latest ELC meeting (Enterprise Leadership Conference); I am beginning to think that there is much simultaneous disagreement AND agreement on the topic.

Here’s a quick recap/brain dump of my initial thoughts from the first round of the event (as I will be writing the event’s report, I hereby reserve the right to change my mind about anything I write here today).

Not Just About Risk
I drafted the first version of the governess/Mary Poppins image when I got home immediately after the event. If there was one point of agreement about governance (data/information/whatever); it was that treating content as a valuable corporate asset is a good idea.

The current “ THOU SHALT GOVERN INFORMATION; OR YOU WILL BE EXPOSED TO RISK” argument is boring and unpersuasive – at least to those who haven’t been nailed in some way by having ungoverned content fall into the wrong hands. There’s a perspective of governance as a bunch of “things that are just going to slow me down.”

You can’t really get value out of your information unless you govern/manage that information so that it can be used for some business purpose. (At many points in the conversation, I jotted down that if you replaced “information governance” with “enterprise content management” nothing about the conversation would have changed.)

And there is a lot of consideration given to information governance, but no one really likes to bear down and exercise when there’s a couch, TV, and remote just there. Unless something bad happens – there’s interest in it, there’s positive statements said about it, but no one wants to really do it because it’s a lot of work. As someone said, “Someone needs to do it. Not me.”

Storage ISN’T Free (or Cheap)
We need to do some winning of hearts and minds to the idea that, while storage IS free/cheap when it comes to raw Terabytes, MANAGING all of that “free storage” isn’t free – or cheap. Who out there has a hard time finding the photo you want. It was hard enough in a box, developing 24 photos at a time. Now, with hundreds on my phone and thousands elsewhere – egads.

What the %)#%)&)$* Is It?
I don’t think we hit upon an agreed-upon definition. At one point I jotted down (because someone was making a knowledge management analogy, and the story of the blind men and the elephant came to mind) that trying to define this is like an elephant mated to a platypus and then crossed with a gryphon. Since I first jotted this down, Lawrence Hart, George Parapadakis, and James Lappin have all written posts on this. Here’s a list to keep track of (and add to) for defining information governance

There was general agreement that IT does not equal information governance. You aren’t going to buy it out of a box.

In a nutshell:

·      The terminology stinks

·      Few and far between, but some folks DO benefit

·      The value is undersold

·      It’s HARD

·      Leadership deficit

·      No common definition

·      Industry term, fairly well-known, customers don’t

I look forward to digging in and writing a report for everyone. One thing that I can’t get out of my mind, though, is that if we live in the information age, doesn’t it behoove us to – you know – manage all of it? There was some subtext of “digital transformation” in the meeting. Seems straightforward to me: no info; then no digital; then no transformation. 

#ECM #EnterpriseContentManagement #AIIM #governance #infogov #ELC #InformationGovernance