IG Provides Certainty
“Less than 10 per cent of respondents claimed that they were ‘very confident’ that ’emails relating to document commitments and obligations . . . are recorded, complete, and retrievable.’
AIIM Industry Watch: Email Management, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly[1. AIIM International, “AIIM Industry Watch: Email Management, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” AIIM International, May 2009.]
IN BRIEF: IG provides organizations with certainty that they are properly managing their information assets, and confidence that they won’t be surprised when litigation or investigation hits. Also, IG provides certainty that money and resources are being spent wisely, which is important in an era of increasing shareholder activism.
In “Life Without Lawyers,” Philip K. Howard argues that the structure and application of the law in the US makes it more difficult for businesses and institutions such as schools and hospitals to succeed. “Straining daily choices through a legal sieve basically kills the human instinct needed to get things done,” he writes.[2. Philip K. Howard, “Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law,” W. W. Norton and Company, 2009.]
Managing information is complex, especially for global companies impacted by laws and regulations in multiple jurisdictions. The fear of throwing away the wrong piece of information can be paralyzing – I have seen it first hand at many companies.
When I started working with one of my clients, they proudly showed me a binder full or well-written IG policies and procedures. As I read through them, I wondered why they needed me. Then, when I asked how the policies were being enforced, the reason became clear. They were in a fairly litigious industry, and due to multiple, broadly drawn and overlapping Legal Holds notices, the IG policies had in effect been suspended. No information was being disposed of, and it had been this way for over two years. Information systems were under serious strain. Expenses were growing. And yet, the organization still lived in fear that they would be hit with a spoliation (i.e., destruction of evidence) claim. The organization was being slowly strangled.
We helped the client build a better understanding of their information environment, narrow the scope of unnecessarily broad Legal Holds, and build a comprehensive, contemporary IG program. They began to move forward with confidence – even the outside litigators blessed the program.
IG provides certainty that information is being managed in a way that complies with the law and meets business requirements. No program is foolproof. Nothing can totally inoculate you from future problems. But, a well designed and implemented IG program can provide a level of that enables an organization to focus on success.
Your Employees are Begging for It
“When you start to actively address your organization’s information overload challenges and give people the guidance and tools they need to work more effectively, amazing things happen. They start to make better decisions. They finish projects faster. They generate new ideas. And they drive business growth.”
Basex Information Overload Exposure Assessment[1. Basex Information Overload Exposure Assessment. Online at, http://www.basex.com/web/tbghome.nsf/pages/ios%5D
In Brief. IG makes sense because it help knowledge workers separate “signal” from “noise” in their information flows. By helping organizations focus on the most valuable information, IG improves information delivery and improves productivity.
Study after study shows that most knowledge workers feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they have to deal with. One study found that “sheer overload” is the biggest problem with email as a business tool.[2. AIIM International, “AIIM Industry Watch: Email Management, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” AIIM International, May 2009.] Another says that most professionals spent way too much time looking for information and feel they could not handle any “increases in information flow.”[3. LexisNexis 2008 National Workplace Productivity Survey, February 2008. Online at, http://www.lexisnexis.com/media/press-release.aspx?id=1041.asp%5D Yet another study claims that companies in the US lose $900 billion each year worth of employee productivity due to information overload.[4. Andrea Coombes, “Don’t you Dare Email This Story,” Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2009. Online at, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124252211780027326.html%5D
My experience with implementing IG programs has taught me that, after a period of initial resistance, most knowledge workers appreciate the clarity that IG policies and technology provide. Rather than struggling to invent their own “filing system” and worrying about the trouble that they may face if they get it wrong, the majority of employees quickly understand the value of IG and make it part of their daily routine. At one organization the time that employees spent managing information dropped by 50% within three months of program implementation.
The deluge of poorly managed, redundant, irrelevant, and unclassified information that most knowledge workers face today is huge and growing. IG can improve productivity and reduce the impact of information overload by helping organizations:
- Classify information better so it can more easily be found
- Get rid of unnecessary information so employees don’t have to weed through it
- Better target and personalize information for individuals and communities
- Provide better access to information while still meeting confidentiality and information protection requirements
- Assign resources and technology to information commensurate with its value