Corporate information management has undergone a steady evolution over the past three decades. Organizations that have been quick to embrace new strategies and tools are surviving and thriving in continuously changing business landscapes. Those that have not embraced the value of information are going under and facing a crowded, competitive marketplace filled with companies 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 organization, as decision cycle time and reliability of the information underlying the decision were 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. The value of information resources decayed over time and, indeed, as new legislation caught up with digital reality, it was recognized that some information could 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 2000s, it was recognized that this tagging allowed both physical (e.g., 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 unstructured information with the traditionally more accessible structured information sources, such as ERP systems, to provide a 360-degree view of all relevant information (e.g., contracts, emails, correspondence, etc.), in the context of a structured business transaction. Examples are making decisions regarding, or engaging with, an employee, supplier or customer. This functionality 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 organization.
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 30 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 organization, 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 organization to access, analyze and effectively action high-value external information will extract virtually all value from that external information, turning it into an internal corporate resource that 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 Ocean” environment, or needs to rapidly realign business strategy (or indeed adapt the existing business model) to exploit greenfield opportunities in the untainted “Blue Ocean”1 of potential presented by unexploited information deposits in this new gold rush.
CGI is uniquely positioned to guide enterprises to tap this seam of opportunity. Over the past decades, we have provided organizations with a roadmap, tools and experience to maximize value from their information assets in the journey from document management to enterprise information management. Our strategic information management assessment package (SIMA) helps maximize the value of information from both inside and outside the organization to provide a strong competitive advantage.
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