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Are you forever chasing your errant data?

Savvy businesses take back control of their information

| Business efficiency

How much of your information is under the control of your organisation? Let’s look at it differently: how much of it could you find right now if you needed to?

The problem for many is that information is not being treated as the valuable asset it is – one of only four a business can rely on, along with financial, human and physical resources. Information tends to be dispersed, found not only in databases but in the hands and heads of current and former employees.

73 per cent of organisations surveyed by AIIM researchers said half their data holds absolutely no value whatsoever, though they don’t know which half!

Savvy businesses take measures to centralise this information, and keep it as a resource to gain insights, improve their day-to-day running, and ultimately get the jump on their competitors. By developing better information management processes, practically any company can take back control of their information and improve in three critical areas.

1) Compliance

The very document or piece of information a business needs to prove their compliance could be in the hands of an employee. It could be buried in their email or personal device, or on a broken and disposed of hard drive.

This slows down the way the company can retrieve it, making the compliance process a sluggish and tiresome one. It could even be in the hands of contractors or former employees, meaning non-compliance could easily become an issue.

Mobility has played a part in information fragmentation, though it still remains a great business resource. As the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) discovered, file sharing is no longer a good enough approach to manage a collaborative work effort. Instead, it traps information, making it difficult to share, and limits mobile access.

And yet 62 per cent of businesses surveyed by AIIM said they are strongly reliant on basic file sharing services.

Businesses who control their information properly have access to every piece of data within the company, and can retrieve it quickly when needed.

2) Risk management

Your stored information will likely hold just the insight you need to make strong decisions. Do you have at your finger-tips current information needed to finalise a merger or acquisition or to determine the best time to go to market with a new product launch? It could also be discernment of any number of risks further down the road.

However, file share has created what the AIIM has called “a dumping ground” of content, with garbage information piling up and burying the insightful data and knowledge.

In fact, 73 per cent of organisations surveyed by AIIM researchers said half their data holds absolutely no value whatsoever, though they don’t know which half! This doesn’t bode well for the success of risk management, whereas closely monitored and managed information of a high quality will lead to better quality decision making and reduced risk.

Your business is gathering useful data for risk management. But where is it?Your business is gathering useful data for risk management. But where is it?

3) Productivity

Big data – that is, the use of massive amounts of digital information – has been widely touted as the answer to reaching new levels of productivity and profitability. McKinsey and Company recently looked into the value of harnessing more information.

“A retailer using big data to the full could increase its operating margin by more than 60 per cent,” the researchers explained.

“Harnessing big data in the public sector has enormous potential, too. If US healthcare were to use big data creatively and effectively to drive efficiency and quality, the sector could create more than $300 billion in value every year.”

So why aren’t all businesses using big data to their advantage? Well, it comes back to the first point outlined by the AIIM – how do you know what is good information and what is a mere exercise in time-wasting futility without effective data organisation?

True productivity comes from providing all employees with access to their information in a way that enables them to use it. Not only does this keep it under the control of the organisation, it gives everyone a one-stop location for all integral information.

The issue of silos of information is only going to grow more pressing for those who don’t confront the matter sooner rather than later. With compliance, risk management and productivity on the line, information may finally be viewed as the critical business asset it is.

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