Advancing a Definition of Information Governance

I recently completed a comprehensive survey of the Information Governance market with the eDJ Group. The results were very interesting. Barry Murphy and I discussed the results of the survey on a recent webinar, which you can check out here.  We asked several questions about the definition of Information Governance, and based on our analysis, we are advancing our definition of Information Governance.

Information Governance: A comprehensive program of controls, processes, and technologies designed to help organizations maximize the value of information assets while minimizing associated risks and costs.

In order for any market or business concept to become truly mainstream, there must be consensus on its definition. IG, as an emerging field, has no such consensus. Multiple parties have advanced multiple definitions. However, there is cause for optimism: most of these definitions are quite similar in concept, if not in language. On the flip side, however (as explored in this report), there is still significant variance in what people mean when they use the term information governance.

We are interested in advancing the cause of information governance, as we believe that IG is the best chance that organizations have to truly get their information under control and to maximize its value. As such, we have advanced a definition here, at the beginning of this section. If you find value in our definition, then use it. If not, find a way to define IG in your organization that will maximize the chance of IG being taken up as a central concept in the way you manage information.

While we believe that definitions are important, we also believe that organizations too often get caught up on the semantics of defining things. This is understandable, but usually is a waste of time. Rather than focus on the differences in this debate, we feel it is useful to focus on the similarities. In fact, we believe the following should be captured by any definition of IG, regardless of the specific words used:

  • IG should always address all information types. We believe, as do our clients and survey respondents, that IG always should incorporate all information types – both structured and unstructured.
  • IG is the umbrella. We believe – and our survey respondents agree – that IG should be used as the highest-level description for your information management activities. This is a big part of what gives the concept its value and power.
  • Legal risk and business value. At the highest level, IG is about managing information better. Sometimes we want to manage it better because an outside party – such as a government body or court – is telling us we have to, and sometimes we want to mange it better simply because it helps us be a better business. Any definition of IG should recognize this duality.
  • Controls, processes, and technology. IG should incorporate all the tools needed to better manage information. This includes organizational controls – commonly expressed in the form of policies and procedures. It also includes the processes that are driven by these controls, and the people who develop, enforce, and follow those processes. Finally, it includes the technology that enables us to both control and to exploit our information assets – a very broad category of software and hardware.

Our report is available for purchase here. But, I have a limited number of coupons for a complimentary copy of the report, so if you are interested, contact me ASAP (btblair (at)


One comment

  1. Pingback: Updating Our Information Governance Survey

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