Information Valuation: Reinvention of Knowledge Management or is there more to it?

By Johannes Scholtes posted 06-17-2010 04:32

Recently, the term Information Valuation popped-up in various leading industry reports and in a few blogs, but the term is so new, there isn’t even a Wikipedia entry for it yet (as of June 11th, 2010)! The term does however make a lot of sense and it made me think: it is this just a new term for Knowledge Management or is there more to it and should we worry about it? Because, isn’t Knowledge Management all about valuating, organizing, categorizing, sharing and reusing information? Wikipedia defines Knowledge Management (KM) as comprising a range of strategies and practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizational processes or practice. Apparently, KM has been an established discipline since 1991 and many large companies and non-profit organizations have resources dedicated to internal KM efforts, often as a part of their 'business strategy', 'information technology', or 'human resource management' departments. My take is that Information Valuation is not just another word for Knowledge Management. It is the bridge between records management, retention, information governance and eDiscovery on the one side and knowledge management on the other one. Let me explain this in more detail. Knowledge management is not possible if your data is no more than an unstructured data-dump. We cannot ignore the fact that we live in an information society and that all of today’s workers are information or knowledge workers. Information is one of the most valuable assets of many organizations and next to financial information; there is a lot more additional unstructured and multi-media information that is just as important to determine what is really going on. I believe this is a major difference with the past where information was a derivative of some kind of physical production process, nowadays, information is the main product. All this information needs to be managed, from the personal to the departmental and enterprise level. Information needs to be accessible, there need to be information archiving policies based on information governance rules and legacy information needs to be cleaned up for both legal reasons, but also to prevent that the ongoing information explosion covers and hides all valuable information with irrelevant information and data. This is where the relevance of periodic data valuation comes in. Next to normal regulatory efforts to implement information retention, transfer and destruction, we also need to valuate, categorize, enrich and disclose our information to help knowledge workers to be as productive as possible. This is also where text-mining and content-analytics can play a great future role: there is so much information out there, that it is almost impossible to classify and valuate it all manually. By using text-mining and content-analytics, information can be tagged with relevant information automatically. These tags can then be used to classify documents automatically into folders, to create facets for search and to link and organize information intelligently. By making information valuation part of a records and retention policy, relevant information can be identified, modified (for instance redact if needed or generalized by specialist) and then shared into the user community for future knowledge sharing to increase effectiveness, productivity, optimize business processes and prevent future errors. This is why Information Valuation is not just another word for Knowledge Management. It is the link between and an essential component of records management, retention, information governance, eDiscovery and knowledge management!

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