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Corporate information management has undergone a steady evolution over the past three decades, with organisations that have been quick to embrace new strategies and tools, surviving and thriving in continuously changing business landscapes, and those that have not embraced the value of information rapidly going under in an increasingly red sea – that crowded, competitive marketplace filled with acutely-aware sharks, looking to pounce on the first signs of weakness or opportunity.

Digital information management had its origins in a vision of a “paperless office” in the 1990s, targeting business documents with the appearance of the first built-for-purpose document management systems. It soon became clear that the true value of these systems was not merely in the freeing up of paper-based storage, but was actually in freeing up the inherent value in the documents, allowing access and retrieval of the right information, at the right time, by the right people. This provided immediate competitive advantage to the organisation, as decision cycle time and reliability of the information underlying the decision was significantly improved.

With the dawn of the new millennium, the bursting of the dotcom bubble ushered in a new era of corporate responsibility, and the recognition that a new layer of information management was needed. Value of information resources decayed over time, and indeed, as new legislation such as the Data Protection Act caught up with digital reality, it was recognised that some information could indeed acquire negative value.

Document management platforms evolved to add records management capability, allowing effective disposition or repurposing of information that no longer had original corporate value. In parallel, the importance of metadata tagging and classification to provide a different facet of information access became more and more apparent. Security tagging of these electronic resources addressed both protection of corporate intellectual property as well as client and customer data. By the middle of the noughties, it was recognised that this tagging allowed both physical (models, prototypes, evidence boxes etc.) and electronic information sources to be managed from a single platform, and the concept of enterprise content management was firmly established.

However, this focus had been on unstructured information – the documents, faxes, and letters (electronic or otherwise) – that had brought the most tangible advantage in enabling access. The next step was to integrate this with the traditionally more accessible structured information sources, such as ERP systems, to provide a 360-degree view of all relevant information (contracts, emails, correspondence), in the context of a structured business transaction. This could be for instance, making decisions regarding, or engaging with, an employee, supplier or customer. This was combined with high performance enterprise search capabilities, allowing searching across disparate enterprise silos and media, often including digital assets such as video. This strategy enabled enterprise information management, and from here it was a fairly small step to integrate this information flow with business process management, enabling a degree of tactical agility to give competitive advantage to the organisation.

However, we are now on the cusp of the true digital age. The market landscape in which the enterprise operates has changed beyond all recognition in the last five, let alone thirty years, and the pace of this change will only continue to accelerate, driven by social media, extreme connectivity and the expectations of a digitally-enabled millennial generation. To date, enterprise information management strategies have been inward-looking, but this is no longer sufficient. Just as enterprise information management brought competitive advantage by bringing together structured and unstructured content and process within the organisation, strategic information management in the digital age will bring together internal intellectual property and close-to-real-time external market information for competitive advantage.

The fundamental difference between this internal and external data is in the rate of decay of information value. The first organisation to access, analyse and effectively action high value external information will extract virtually all value from that external information, turning it into an internal corporate resource which will be the core driver behind both strategic and tactical decision in the enterprise. This will hold true whether the enterprise is operating in the cut-and-thrust of an existing market arena, and needs immediate visibility of both threat and opportunity in this hyper-competitive “Red-Water” environment, or needs to rapidly realign business strategy (or indeed adapt the existing business model) to exploit greenfield opportunities in the untainted Blue Ocean1 of potential presented by unexploited information deposits in this new gold rush.

CGI is uniquely positioned to guide your enterprise to tap this seam of opportunity. For the past thirty years, we have provided innovative organisations with a route map, tools and experience to maximise value from their information assets in the journey from document management to enterprise information management. With our strategic information management assessment package (SIMA), we stand ready to enable your organisation to survive and thrive in the digital age, maximizing the value of your information from both inside and outside the organisation to provide a crushing competitive advantage.

To find out how CGI can tailor this advantage to fit your specific industry and organisation, please feel free to contact me for further information.

1   INSEAD Professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne content in their 2005 book “Blue Ocean Strategy” that Enterprise success can occur through creation of uncontested “Blue Ocean” market space rather than battling competition in the shark-infested  “Red Ocean” of the competitive market place.

About this author

Iain Dunn

Iain Dunn

Principle EIM Architect, Digital Employee Experience

With 20 years experience in Enterprise Information Management and Governance, Iain is particularly passionate about releasing the value of information resources to drive Digital Transformation.

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