10 Reasons Information Governance Make Sense: Reason # 5

It Ain’t Gonna Get Any Easier

“By far the biggest mistake people make when trying to change organizations is to plunge ahead without establishing a high enough sense of urgency in fellow managers and employees. This error is fatal because transformations always fail to achieve their objectives when complacency levels are high.”

John P. Kotter, “Leading Change,” Harvard Business School Press, 1996, p. 4.

In Brief: IG makes sense because it is a proven way for organizations to respond to new laws and technologies that create new requirements and challenges.  The problem of IG will not get easier over time, so organizations should get started now.

Every day the pile of unmanaged information in your organization grows. Every day the habits of your knowledge workers get more ingrained. Every day new technologies enter your enterprise and create new sources of unmanaged risk. Every day technology gets more complex. Every day courts and regulators grow more sophisticated and demanding when it comes to information management. Time will not make the information management problem any easier.

More regulation of information management is expected.

“It’s now ‘inevitable that more regulation will come, forcing companies to be more ethical, more compliant and overall better corporate citizens.’”

Former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt[1. Alexander B. Howard, “Ex-SEC Chief Pitt Decries State of Sarbanes-Oxley and Risk Management,” SearchCompliance.com, June 5, 2009.]

Beginning as early as the 1970s (with privacy law directed at the federal government) and intensifying in the early years of the new millennium (with Sarbanes-Oxley and the revised Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), governments, regulators, and standards bodies have demonstrated an increasing appetite for the regulation of IT and information. Increasing federal and state regulation has driven demand for IG products and services.[2. Nikki Swartz, “Compliance Boosts Records Management Market,” Information Management Journal, Sept/Oct 2006.]

With the recent swearing-in of a new US president and Democratic control of Congress in the US, it is likely that this appetite will only increase, especially in the wake of a global economic recession that is widely seen as having a root cause in inadequate government oversight and regulation. This is likely to drive legal and regulatory changes that will create new IG requirements for organizations.

Information is getting more complex.

“Using a growing set of free and simple tools and applications, it is easy to create customized, personal web-based environments — a personal web — that explicitly supports one’s social, professional, learning and other activities via highly personalized windows to the networked world.”

The New Horizon Report[3. L. Johnson, A. Levine and R. Smith, “The 2009 Horizon Report,” The New Media Consortium, 2009.]

The growing business use of Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking tools, along with other developments such as Internet “cloud” based applications, are making information management more challenging. The emergence of such technologies is a challenge to the “very strong and entrenched ‘command and control’ ethos that is prevalent in the records management world.[4. Steve Bailey, “Managing the Crowd: Rethinking Records Management for the Web 2.0 World,” Facet Publishing, 2008, p. 68.]

The reality today is that each knowledge worker – like it or not – is his or her own records manager. Responsibility for the creation and management of information has become highly distributed and a new generation of Internet-based tools and applications only encourage this trend.

In addition, technologies like “Google Wave”  create new difficulties. Products that blend together formerly discreet communication, collaboration and content creation tools challenge the long-standing focus on “the document” and usher in a world where we no longer manage discrete piece of information.  The “wave” of information created by these tools is an ever-changing Hydra that pulls information from a variety of sources and blends them together into an environment that cannot be “retained” or managed using traditional approaches.

As technology – and the new forms of information created by that technology – grows more complex, IG provides the foundation from which we can build processes and techniques to properly manage that information. IG isn’t getting any easier – the time to act is now.

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