Information By Nick Inglis (A Review)

Information-Book-Cover-1a460d35

Nick Inglis will be speaking at NCC-AIIM chapter meeting on November 15th, 2018.  In light of that I decided I write a review of his recently released book, “Information: Comprehensive Overview of the Information Profession & Official INFO Designation Study Guide v1.0.”  The book is based on InfoBOK, The Information Body of Knowledge which is an open source body of knowledge developed by the Information Coalition.

In October 2018 the Information Coalition merged with ARMA International.  I believe that one of the best resources that the Information Coalition has the left our community with is the book “Information: The Comprehensive Overview of the Information Profession & Official INFO Designation Study Guide.”  This is a great resource for anyone in the Information profession no matter how long they have been in the field or what area they specialize in due to the many different subject areas this book covers.

Information is by Nick Inglis and was released in September 2018 at InfoBOK Summit 2018 prior to the InfoGovCon.  InfoBOK is the Information Body of Knowledge which is an abridged version of Information (and over 100 pages shorter) and does not contain the analysis that is included in Information.  The analysis in Information makes it worth the price as it adds a layer of richness to the text.  InfoBOK is open source and was the culmination of two years of work amongst passionate information professionals that are a part of the Information Coalition.  After the InfoBOK summit, attendees were presented a chance to sit for an exam to earn the INFO Designation that demonstrates an individual has the knowledge of the information profession.

Information consist of two sections.  The first of which is a birds-eye view of the Information Profession.  In this analysis it defines an Information Profession as a “loosely defined group of people, working in companies, whose primary function is related to information – this includes everyone from CIOs making major policy decisions and leading their organizations through to imaging specialists sitting in front of scanners with piles of paper to digitize.”  It next defines the disciplines that an information professional can work in as one of the following categories: archiving, compliance, information leadership/strategy, information management, information technology (IT), legal, privacy, records management and security.

An interesting distinction that Inglis makes is having Information Management and Information Leadership/Strategy as separate categories.  In the past I have used these terms interchangeably.  Inglis makes a valid point that there needs to be a separation between these two categories even though there may be some overlap in the roles that perform these functions.  In a section on Foundational Concepts Inglis discusses how Information Management and Information Leadership/Strategy must coexist and not be merged as the same thing when he states on page 58, “The terms ‘Governance’ or ‘Strategy’ should be used to describe high-level planning, policy and coordination. Whereas the term ‘Management’ should be used to describe the tactical execution of said planning, policy and coordination.”

If the information professional is to grow and mature we must all speak the same language which is why Inglis wrote Information.  Inglis introduces the section on Foundational Concepts by stating, “Words matter and word choices matter.  In any profession that is looking to move forward in maturity, there is often vernacular issues that make gaining a comprehensive understanding of the profession, a challenge.”  As I talk to other Information Professionals very few people come into the field the same way.  We all have different backgrounds and different areas of specialty.  Information is important because it gives us a common knowledge so that the terms we use have the same meaning and we are all able to communicate together and say the same thing.

The second section of Information is the InfoBOK with analysis.  The InfoBOK divides the Information Profession into four categories that encompass all of the elements of the information profession and those are core elements, risk elements, structural/process element and value elements.  Lastly, there is a fifth category for emerging elements that are still making their way to the forefront.  One of the problems of having a section like this in a book is that something that may be emerging in 2018 can be obsolete in 2023.  Only time will tell and it’s a section that will obviously be updated in future editions as disruptors will always be presenting new emerging elements.

The InfoBOK with analysis is the core of the book as the core elements consist of 16 subject areas, Risk Elements and value elements contain 10 subject areas each, Structural/Process elements contain 20 subject areas and Emerging Elements contain 7 subject areas.  There is no area that isn’t left uncovered in this book.  I found so much value in Information and the analysis that it contains that I bought a copy for my boss.  Any Information Professional who gets a copy of this book will have no excuse to not order copies for those looking to grow in the field.

Every Information Professional should read the Foundational Concepts that Inglis lays out in his book.  Our profession is evolving with many new challenges ahead and Inglis lays a solid foundation for us to have a dialogue about how to face those issues with his chapter on Foundational Concepts.  Aside from the difference between governance and management, other topics that Inglis covers in Foundational Concepts are:

  • Content or Data Or Document Or Information Or Knowledge Or Record
  • Records Management: Traditional Record Management, Electronic Records Management, Records Management (RIM) & Retention Management
  • Information Lifecycle
  • Capture, Digitization, Imaging, Native Creation, Scanning & Upload
  • Information Assurance vs. Information Security
  • Backup, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and Information Assurance.

When Inglis presented at the InfoBOK and discussed the concepts of Information he stated that the one thing he wanted everyone to take away is that, “Everything is information.” D. Madrid who led the volunteer effort for InfoBOK followed that up with, “If we information management correctly, then records management will fall into place.”  The Foundational Concepts in Information delves deeper into this idea and below is a visual representation from Information that represents the world of information that an Information Professional must be ready to deal with.

everything is information

One of the reasons this book is such an invaluable resource is that it doesn’t just says records managers must be information managers, but that records is too small of a windows to view our world.  Records live in the ecosystem of documents, content and data.  To effectively management records we need to be somewhat versed in the over 50 areas comprised by the five elements of the InfoBOK.

Not every Information Professional was become a CRM, CRA, IGP, CIP, etc., but I believe going forward that every Information Professional should earn the INFO Designation.  “Designed to test the basics/fundamentals of the Information Profession – the goal of the INFO Designation is to be a baseline test, open to everyone, to ensure they have adequate knowledge to serve in any role in the Information Profession (P. 48).  For this reason Information will become a staple for every Information Professional.  Aside from years of various experience, there is no better way to prepare for the INFO Designation or be a well-rounded Information Professional than to read Information.

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Netflix and Digital Transformation

Netflix is a prime example of digital transformation. Its cost structure and business model are unlike anything the media business has ever seen, and it is steamrolling its competition as a result. The reason: IT is its strategic weapon.

the rise of big data, artificial intelligence and mobility has made IT the most important source of business value for many companies. Those that can leverage these technologies most effectively will transform entire industries.

Netflix didn’t win because it improved incrementally on existing processes. It won because it completely changed the way it does business.

The above is excerpted from an article in Information Week entitled, “Why CIO’s Will Lead Digital Transformation” by Raj Sabhlok, president, Zoho Corp

Why #Governance

A governance program can benefit an organization because it does the following:

  1. Facilitates strategic planning and efficient decision-making.
  2. Builds a common understanding of the content and users’ technology.
  3. Provides a forum for users to advocate for their needs.
  4. Establishes clear user feedback and support channels.
  5. Grows understanding of required roles and responsibilities.
  6. Monitors data quality and ongoing value.

The above is an excerpt from Governance Is No Longer Optional

The Digital Helix: Transforming Your Organization’s DNA To Thrive In The Digital Age (A Book Review)

In late 2017 the AIIM On Air podcast recorded an episode where they interviewed Michael Gale on his new book, “The Digital Helix: Transforming Your Organization’s DNA to Thrive In The Digital Age,” which you can listen to here.  I recently read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Below is my review for those interested in checking out the book…

The Digital Helix: Transforming Your Organization’s DNA To Thrive In The Digital Age by Michael Gale and Chris Aarons is about digital transformation and how organization’s must change so they don’t just digitize paper processes, but take advantages of the opportunities that the digital age presents.  The goal isn’t to be digital, but to leverage digital capabilities and to solve customer problem’s and become more agile.  The same is try for information governance.  The goal isn’t to manage electronic records, but to become agile in using workflows to manage documents throughout the information lifecycle and help to solve the problem’s of internal customers by finding smarter ways to leverage information assets.

The authors state in the preface, “This book is designed to give the insights, frameworks and stories to identify where you are where you need to go…to architect, design and build the DNA needed to thrive with digital transformation, no matter where you are today.”  This book is less about the technologies that are emerging in the digital age, but more about the cultural change and the mindsets that need to change to embrace the benefits that digital provides:

It does not explore the technologies you might apply to help drive your digital transformation, especially because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It is designed to give you the best opportunity to be successful by explaining the questions, insights, interactions, behaviors, and triggers that are driving performance for organizations digitally transforming themselves to thrive in this digital-first world. (Gale and Aarons, 2017, P.1-2).

The cover of the book has many buzzwords like leadership, marketing, customer service, sales, communication, listening and development.  These are typically not words associated with records management and information governance, but many of the concepts in the book about digital transformation can be applied to a records management department that is evolving into information governance.  I also found reading this book helpful as it gave me insights into how an organization will change to adapt to digital disruption and how an information governance program should be ready to grow with those changes also.  Even though Gale and Aarons never explicitly say this, one of the things that obvious in this book is the vital role information governance will play in digital transformation.  For example, as they talk about marketing and communication they make the statement, “For marketing and communications, the additional digital infrastructure has created more information to parse, and in many cases, information overload can hinder efforts to be efficient. (P. 152)”.
To succeed in the digital era there are seven drivers that are at play that need to be considered for any digital transformation initiative.  Those drivers are:

  1. The compression of supply and demand enables near instant fulfillment
  2. Shifting demographics are changing customer needs and expectations
  3. Access to more and more information is leveling the playing field in every market
  4. Pay as you go provides infinite ability to scale every facet of a business
  5. New competitors are built to be digital from day one
  6. The rate of change is extremely exponential
  7. The trade-offs between price, efficiency, and innovation have disappeared.

As information professionals, if we want to speak the language of our colleagues when digital transformation comes up we need to be versed in these seven drivers so that we can contribute and not just be an afterthought for compliance purposes.

Responding to these seven drivers isn’t easy for seven reasons that the author identifies.  Below are the reasons Gales and Aarons presents along with the solution if digital transformation is to take place.

  1. “Executives mandates are not enough,” therefore executives must be digital helix explorers and not just cheerleaders
  2. “When faced with failure many organizations withdraw or retreat from new projects,” but instead we need to know how to get real value from our efforts when the end result isn’t what we initially planned.
  3. “Digital takes different metrics to succeed.” Traditional metrics look at volume, but digital metrics includes more items than volume such as engagement, advocacy and abandonments.
  4. “Success comes from the inside out, not from outside in” because to succeed in digital you don’t need to outsource to outside vendors, but leverage the power within for the majority of cases.
  5. “Digital requires a village and an architect” because it’s not just having the right IT, but also the right stakeholders outside of IT to contribute.
  6. “Openness to alternative strategies drive digital.” Those that win in digital transformation know they need to push boundaries and find the next big thing if they want to be successful.
  7. “Digital is not just customer focused” Digital transformation is more than just customer focused because it can reduce internal cost and enhance back office productivity.

This book is 269 pages and one of my critiques is that it almost seemed too short and too scattered.  The bulk of the book is addressing these seven drivers and having the right framework and change for digital success.  Each driver has its own chapter dedicated to it, but some of the chapters seemed like they could have been longer to bring everyone to the same starting place.  For example, a chapter on collaboration I was easily able to jump into, but a chapter on marketing and sales took me longer to wrap my head around.  Contributing to the scattered feel is that the authors consistently use long block quotes to support their research which can throw the reader out of the flow of what’s being said as it goes from third person to first person.

One of the things that I took away from this book is how many correlations that are between implementing business transformation for a business and implementing information governance for a records management department.  For example, Generally Acceptable Records Management Princi (GARP), has the principle of accountability, which is the same as saying that executives can’t just give mandates, but must be active in showing support and not just sitting on the sidelines of digital transformation.  The authors state that for digital transformation executives should enable others, empower differences and push boundaries for themselves and others (p. 120).

This book is essential for information managers to read as information governance will be essential to digital transformation.  During the time of the industrial revolution wise use of financial assets is what it took to get the resources needed to transform a business.  Now the most important asset for digital revolution to transform businesses is information and removing ROT while making crucial information available no matter if it’s declared a record or not.  Organization that mismanage information mismanage the most vital ingredient for success in digital transformation (Gale and Aarons, 2017 p. 134).

Not all information is born of equal importance, and the ability to separate noise from signals is vital, especially as older signals become potential noises…In the digital era, sources and streams are everywhere. The real question is not about where and what to look for, but rather how do you zero in on the key nuggets that can impact your organization today and set the course for future growth? Think of the odd contradiction we now have. Data and information is voluminous and everywhere, yet when you can find everything and track anything, what do you look for and follow? We live in a world where zettabytes of information are generated in weeks or days, if not minutes (p.121 & 128).

Records management can be a functional separate from sales, but in a digital environment built to succeed information governance needs to be cooked into business processes so that the value of information can be harnessed.  Managing information in faster time frames is crucial for digital transformation success (Gale and Aarons, 2017, p. 220) which is information governance can’t just be an afterthought.  If nothing else, this book shows why information governance is not optional, but imperative in the digital age. “Information is quite different in the Digital Age. Great digital transformations require that organizations know how to handle the constant underlying evolution of the value of information (p. 204).”

 

 

Doing Digital Right (A Book Review)

Records management is a rapidly evolving field with the influx of digital content that records managers must steward.  The challenge isn’t just managing electronic records, but non-records, content and other data as all information needs to be governed because all information provides risk because of many factors such as e-discovery, data breaches and so much more.  For this reason, I decided to review “Doing Digital Right: How Companies Can Thrive In The Next Digital Era,” by Louis Lamoureux.   It is important for records managers to understand how companies are implementing digital solutions to prepare for the upcoming challenges.

This book is primarily about digital disruption and how to be prepared for it.  Lamoureux sets the stage by talking about how computers and the internet changed how businesses function in the first digital next.  Next, he looks at key digital technologies in the second digital age, those technologies include social, mobile, analytics, cloud (SMAC stack) and big data.  He also discusses how the second digital age is evolving into the third digital age with technologies such as machine learning, internet of things, robotics, artificial language, natural language processing, machine learning and computer vision.  With this foundation set he goes on to describe how the technologies in third digital age can improve products, processes and the customer journey.

The bulk of the book deals with technology in the third digital age so many of the pertinent works that Lamourex references are not books, but web pages and journal articles from 2016 and onwards.  Some of the web pages and journal that Lamourex references is Forbes, Harvard Business Review, ZD Net, Wall Street Journal and CSO Online to name a few.  Lamourex also extensively cites his own research for the book.  His research includes examining five years of annual reports (2011 through 2015) of over 400 companies to analyze any correlations between digital initiatives and business performance.  The companies included in his research primarily came from Standard and Poor’s 500 index and to ensure Canadian representation he also included 20 of the largest companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange.  He describes his methodology this way:

To identify the extent to which each company was undertaking digital initiatives, we examined annual reports for mentions of words associated with such initiatives and activities.  This research was conducted in a manner akin to sentiment analysis, which corporations undertake to learn what customers are saying about that. We took the number of mentions as an indication of the company’s digital activity (Lamourex, 2017, Location No. 318).

Whether in first digital, second digital or third digital, the one constant with companies that successfully use digital technology is to have a vision which involves using technology to make better products, achieve process improvement and make things easier for the customer.  Doing digital right means having a vision of positive business outcomes which is achieved through having business uses that incorporate digital technologies to improve products, processes and the customer journey.

In setting a vision for doing digital in an organization Lamourex believes it’s important for an organization to identify if they offer a differentiated product or a commodity product.  A differentiated product is some type of tool or something tangible that a consumer would buy.  With differentiated products disruption is likely to occur when building a better product using digital tools.  In regard to internal processes and the customer journey disruption is possible, but doesn’t have as high of a return on investment.  An example that Lamourex gives for disruption with a differentiated product is with luggage that can be locked and unlocked with a mobile device or your fingerprint, luggage that is self-propelling and will stay within six inches of its owner and luggage that can check itself in at the airport.  Lamourex lists two types of commodity products in which disruption is likely, the first involves lowering cost through improving internal processes and the second is creating a smoother customer journey for the consumer.  An example of lowering cost through improving internal products is in financial services where artificial intelligence reduce manual effort in areas such as financial advice and basic legal services.  An example of making the customer journey easier is in meal delivery by using robotics, predictive ordering, autonomous delivery and en-route preparation so that customers can receive prepared food quicker and easier.

One of the things that I found helpful about the book is how it laid out digital vision questions.  If you want to use digital technologies to maximize the value of a differentiated product you should ask yourself, “What digital technology or information is valuable to customers and should be embedded into our products or provided as a service?”  If you want to use digital technologies to improve processes by minimizing the cost and effort you should ask yourself, “How do we minimize movement and automate processes and make them faster, more reliable and lower cost?”  If you want to use digital technology to enhance the customer journey you should ask yourself, “How can digital make the customer processes such as ordering, receiving, getting service, and using the products easier?”

Working in records manager for a registered investment advisor this quote particularly hit close to home as it showed how technology is changing the industry:

In the area of compliance, banks are using Natual Language Processing and machine learning to automate compliance to deal with increasing regulatory requirements. These types of artificial intelligence are helping track money laundering, sanction list monitoring, and billing fraud.  Companies are moving toward automated and continuous monitoring and the ability to report compliance at any moment. Dashboards include real-time analytics on enterprise risk and compliance. Regulatory and legal requirements are on the increase. Having more digital assets means more tracking of those assets. Records management requirements include digital as well as physical assets. The SMAC technologies, the rapid pace of innovation, and the increased collaboration with external parties have all complicated risk and compliance management (Lamourex, 2017, Location No. 1,589).

I believe this book can be particularly helpful for records managers as Lamourex talks a lot about internal process improvement.  With records management involving more workflow and business process management it is important to understand how digital tools can be leveraged to get critical information to the right places and faster as well ensuring it is authentic, auditable and preservable.

My one complaint about the book is that the author didn’t spend more time talking about governance.  He closes the book saying, “The execution plan must include necessary governance,” but he doesn’t go into any specifics.  The most successful digital initiative will lose the majority of its return on investment if no one is held accountable the data or if the data isn’t managed properly so it doesn’t start to lost money over time from becoming redundant, obsolete and trivial.  Overall, I enjoyed “Doing Digital Right” and believe it is a valuable read for anyone in information governance who wants to know what is on the horizon and will give them talking points about the third digital age and how to prepare for it from an information governance standpoint.

We Will Always Need Governance (a response to Goodbye Governance…”

CMSWire recently hosted a piece with the provocative title, “Goodbye Governance, We Don’t Need You Any More.”

We are at a critical turning point with the consumerisation of IT.  The digital workplace isn’t just about the technology that is available, but also the skills that the people have to leverage the technology that is available.  The sky’s the limit, but if everyone attempts to fly to the sun without governance there are bound to be more Icarus’ than Wright Brothers.

As I read the article on CMSWire it made me think of frontier time and all the potential that someone could gain by moving out to the west with hopes of finding “gold in them thar hills.”  With the digital tools at our disposal there is definitely good available, but there is also danger with cybercriminals who want to steal pii, corporate information or infect your system with malware.  Governance provides a safety net to keep data safe and organizations in compliance.  Without governance we are headed to the Wild Wild West

Staying with the frontier times analogy, governance allows for a unified digital front as transformation happens.  Information is a company’s most critical asset and if departments within an organization hoard information they can impede the progress of other departments.  Governance facilitates different groups to best leverage tools for information to be used uniformally across the board instead of clogging up bandwidth or not making the most current and accurate versions of information available.  In frontier times a family was weakened when someone left the family to go out west to look for gold and with digital transformation an organization can be weakened when innovations is attempted without the oversight of governance.

Governance is not the enemy of innovation.  A key part of digital transformation is digital disruption.  Not everyone survives the disruption to reap the benefits of transformation which is why governance is needed in the digital transformation process.

 Martyn Perks  (author of the article) makes the point that governance is too much about the restraints that have been placed on the digital workplace.  Restraints are not a bad thing.  If there was no speed limit there would be more accidents on the highway.  If there was no governance there would be more mishandling of data and misfiled records (the statistics on the time spent wasted looking for information that wasn’t categorized properly is staggering).  It is in boundaries that we often find true freedom.

An excellent point that I think that Perks make is that with all the talk of the need of governance needing C-suite support it can often fail to account for how people work.

unlike a governance team with a clearly laid out agenda, this approach is all about balancing out business strategy with what’s happening ‘on the ground.’

The people you choose as managers must be prepared to walk-the-talk and engage with staff (wherever they may be), rather than hiding away in the safety of your HQ tower behind a desk full of policies that start with the words “Thou shall not ….”

If governance is all about “Thou shall not” and not empowering people to become more efficient with information and work more productively and use tools that are available to connect with others than we are need to reconsider how are doing governance.  The misconception about governance is that it’s records management 2.0, but governance is more than that and if it’s all about compliance, security or records management and not getting a competitive advantage from information, processes and how people use technology to leverage the two then we have governance all wrong.

Why Digital Transformation Is So Hard

Organizations aren’t falling behind well-established standards so much as “struggling to keep up with accelerating standards,” the PwC report said. It’s clear “most are not ready for what comes next – as technologies continue to combine and advance and new ways of doing business go from inception to disruption seemingly overnight,” it added.

Another way of saying that is that the technical skills in hand in the IT organization may be the same or greater than before, but executives’ conception of what will be needed in the near future is outstripping those skills. Welcome to the age of digital transformation…

Most companies have not kept up with the need to transform digitally “as powerful new tools crowd into the marketplace,” the report warned. The scale against which the executives are measuring their digital preparedness is not a static one but the fast-moving environment in which they now find themselves. The companies may actually be smarter about technologies they’re using “but the questions keep getting harder,” the report noted.

The above is taken from, “The Need to Go Digital Is Clear; Not Everyone Can Get There” in InformationWeek