Is that your spreadsheet hiding behind a tree?
Enterprises commonly set boundaries and processes to control the flow of information to ensure best practices in a variety of applications such as search, records management, data protection, and compliance. This approach to control the flow of information is often cumbersome and impacts the ability to manage unstructured and semi-structured content throughout the information lifecycle to include: capture; storage; retrieval; archival; and disposal. The crux of the problem is the inability to capture accurate information from all relevant sources that enables all the subsequent steps to be completed correctly. Some organizations succeed, some do not.
Regardless of an information governance strategy, the detrimental business impact of unstructured and semi-structured information, is that it is often hidden away on a server somewhere, in an email, or on a personal device and escapes the radar of any form of information management. An interesting citation from Cheryl McKinnon, a Principal Analyst at Forrester, states that “seventy percent of businesses use spreadsheets for critical business decisions, but fewer than 34 percent apply governance or controls to them”. I’m not doubting that a good old spreadsheet can’t be used for critical business decisions, but you tend to lose the context in relationship with other pieces of scattered information that may never be found. Regardless of business controls, the Finance department will always have their spreadsheets, as well as all functional groups in the organization.
To achieve information governance these golden nuggets of information must be captured and contribute to the overarching framework. Taxonomies and enterprise metadata repositories facilitate this process. In the past, and even now, taxonomy tools can be cumbersome, incur long deployment times, and are not easily managed. Creating metadata repositories and taxonomies that are optimized for the organization is challenging, as each functional group, and every end user may have a different way of expressing the same or similar descriptors (metadata). The goal is to not only give people the right information, but distilled from a variety of distinct content making available useable knowledge.
I think it’s time that organizations (and many do) leverage all their content assets by investing the time to create the frameworks that support information as a business asset. Metadata, auto-classification, and taxonomies can achieve enormous business benefits when content can be found and managed. WDYT?