From the paper on your desk, to customer records, legal documents, transactional data, product information and even social media, whether digitally archived or stored physically, information is the life blood of an organisation.
This vital information is an asset that simply isn’t being utilised, the impact of which is felt right up to the board room. According to Forbes, the C-suite has simply had enough of listening to colleagues who present ideas without substantial data or evidence to support it, both of which should be available at the very fingertips of the organisation.
The fact is, how businesses think and talk about their information has changed. Risk and reputation still feature prominently, but the discussion now includes the idea that making the most of information can improve operations, enhance customer relationships, open up new product opportunities and consequently help secure competitive advantage. However, organisations lack the skills, tools and culture necessary to access this data and as a result, the C-suite is failing to maximise on the dormant value of information within their organisation.
In order to realise the true potential from this valuable asset, there are a number of resources, skills and tools that are lacking. First of all, organisations need to understand the information they hold; how it is being used and how it flows through the business. This understanding will go a long way to providing an organisation with the ability to understand where insight and intelligence would be most valuable, as well as most vulnerable.
To do this, it is important to obtain the required practical resources and skills to extract the insight and intelligence they and their business units want from their information. Data analysts for example, are vital for the C-suite, offering data interpretation and insight application skills that would help turn information into decision-ready facts, targeted marketing campaigns and improve processes and innovation.
The C-suite should support the sharing of appropriate business information with those best placed to make the most of it, while at the same time encouraging an organisation-wide culture of information responsibility. Cultural change is hard and requires support from the very top of the business, with the most senior executives leading by example. While information risk and security remains important, it’s no longer just about locking information away to keep it secure from data breaches. It’s about striking a balance between managing information for risk and for value, to ensure the right information reaches employees with the skills to use it for insight, resulting in informed business decision making.
In a 24/7 digital world, information is insight and insight is power, which means it has never been more important to harness information and use it and protect it like any other asset in the business. Any business not thinking about how to harness the value of its information today may find itself losing out to its competitors and may ultimately become obsolete.
Elizabeth Bramwell, director, Iron Mountain
Image source: Shutterstock/Maksim Kabakou