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4 times Hollywood got very real about information management.

4 movies that would have very different endings with better information management

Hollywood's film industry is largely based in fiction – at least to some extent. That being said, there are times when the lines become blurred and reality clashes with drama.

Many movies don't know how deep their messages go, and business leaders with their information management caps on will notice how the final outcomes are almost always extremely data driven. In the most extreme cases, if people and organisations on the silver screen had better rein of their information, there wouldn't be much of a story to tell.

It would admittedly make for terrible cinema, but much better business. So, here are four examples of films that would have turned out much differently if the stars in them had managed their Information Assets in a more convincing manner.

By the time the authorities become aware of the comet months later, it's well on its way.

1) Deep Impact

We've discussed how information is integral to risk management in the modern world, especially when an extinction-level event is on the horizon. The 1998 apocalypse movie Deep Impact takes this theory to a new level when a comet is found heading for Earth.

School student Leo Biederman spots the astrological anomaly in the sky, and sends his findings to astronomer Dr. Marcus Wolf. From his observatory, it's Dr. Wolf who runs a quick simulation on the comet's trajectory and finds it on a collision course with our planet.

The doc uses his 20th-century IT infrastructure (which looks humorous in today's digitally enhanced world) to download his data onto a three-and-a-half-inch floppy disk, and rushes out of the door. However, a road accident cuts his journey short, and by the time the authorities become aware of the comet months later, it's well on its way.

We won't spoil the film's ending, but it's easy to imagine how a simple file-share and email system could have made this whole film much less dramatic.

2) The Big Short

If you're wondering how the global financial crisis happened, The Big Short has some answers. Poor decisions by mortgage lenders in the United States led to an incredible collapse in the housing market, and the rest of the economy was almost toppled with it.

The Big Short is a timely reminder that new technologies alone are nothing without clean and accurate data.

What The Big Short shows is the staggering lack of insight into the housing market by practically everyone responsible for it. Instead, hedge fund manager and all-round data genius Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale) looks at the figures and makes an absolute killing betting against America's real estate industry.

The Oscar-nominated film pulled no punches in showing the incredible mismanagement of data – data that the fate of the whole economy rested on. It's even more worrying to think this was a true story, really hammering the nail home when discussing the importance of information management.

Directors, executives, shareholders and other business leaders watching the 2015 film should ask themselves: where was all the cloud software, where was the data analytics? Well, it existed, making The Big Short a timely reminder that new technologies alone are nothing without clean and accurate data.

3) The Departed

The Departed was a 2006 smash-hit film about the seedy underworld of Boston's crime families. Based on a Japanese film called Infernal Affairs, the plot centred around Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Billy Costigan (a cop playing a criminal), and Matt Damon's Colin Sullivan (a criminal playing a cop).

Costigan tests his ability to stay sane while living life as an undercover cop. No one can know his identity. The problem is, the police records hold that information, and many people want it.

What follows is a tour de force of information security. Sullivan is pressured to use his insight from inside the force to identify Costigan, although he doesn't have access to the records, while data loss and leaks pour out all over the place. 

Without ruining the ending, the movie is a masterpiece in showing the importance of information governance – who has access to what data, how is it secured, and who should and shouldn't see it. While Leo is playing with his life in the US, organisations on this side of the world have different stakes, and they could find their most sensitive data leaked should they not have an effective information management plan in place.

4) Batman: The Dark Knight

This is arguably the best in the modern Batman trilogy, and one that sees the Caped Crusader face off against the enigmatic, psychopathic Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger.

The Joker is a mysterious figure throughout the film; no one can find any records on his true identity, and the police – and Batman – struggle to keep track of his criminal movements. No one has any idea where the villain will strike next, and who will be on the wrong end of his murderous tendencies.

How different the film could have been if Batman and company had turned to Big Data analytics sooner rather than later.

However, when it looks like all hope has gone and the Joker is about to kill thousands of people, the Dark Knight becomes a true information management super hero – not the one the city of Gotham deserves, but the one they need.

Batman and his trusty tech expert Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) deploy an incredibly sophisticated piece of data analytics. By hacking into everyone's phone, they can hear what's going on around Gotham City. They then analyse this data and pin-point the Joker's position, and we'll leave it to you to find out what happens next.

How different the film could have been if Batman and company had turned to Big Data analytics sooner rather than later. We'll let you watch the film and decide what mistakes could have been avoided.

Ask yourself these two questions…

We'd like to challenge you to think of your favourite film (maybe give it a rewatch this weekend) and ask yourself how the whole plot line could have changed with better management of information – physically, digitally or in the form of knowledge.

Then, ask yourself an even more important question: What would your organisation look like if you managed your money like you do your information? We'd really like to hear your responses.

In the meantime, if you want to read about how you can improve your understanding of information management simply by changing your mindset, our quick guide is available below in the form of a free white paper.

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