Tagged: unstructured information

How did we do on the Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) Summit?

The single most important industry event I have yet attended; densely packed with immediately useable approaches, methodologies and best practices; staffed by passionate and supremely experienced SMEs – both within and extraneous to the discipline – providing a 360-degree view of the imminent CIGO revolution; overall a grand slam. A definite repeat for next year!

Richard Kessler, Head of Group Information Governance, UBS AG

Most organizations like the Information Governance Initiative do not publicly share the results of post-event surveys, but I work hard to be different and transparent. So, in that spirit, I am going to share results of the May 2015 CIGO Summit participant survey that just came in.

Overall, I’m really happy to see that in almost every metric we exceeded our goals. In one area we could have done better, but I knew that would be the case going in and will explain why. If you missed the CIGO Summit, check out this excellent write-up on the event.

Key results

Overall Event Satisfaction

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So honored to be a part of such a diverse group of IG experts. The ability to collaborate and discuss directly with your speakers is invaluable! Leave it to the IGI to start the trend away from the power point/listen/5-minute Q&A all are accustomed to. Exactly what separates IGI/Barclay and the Gang from the impersonators. (Ok – might need to not be so harsh – I’ve been drinking)

Anonymous

Nearly all participants said they were very satisfied (71%) or satisfied (20%) with the event, proving that our commitment first and foremost to events that provide value to the participants is paying off. As insiders, we have seen with our own eyes that most industry events are actually designed almost exclusively for the sponsors. I believe that this serves neither the sponsors nor the participants. It is a difficult balance to strike, and it is much more work to put the participants first. For the CIGO Summit, we undertook a “by invitation only” model, which meant that I personally invited or approved each and every participant in the room. Believe me, this process is not fun and I had many painful conversations with excellent consultants and experts (personal friends in many cases) as to why they could not attend. Why? Because I wanted to make sure that the room was filled with senior, working IG practitioners. The providers in the room were a select number of excellent subject matter experts from IGI supporters who had funded the event itself. Quite frankly, without those supporters, this event would not have happened. We simply cannot charge attendees enough to cover the costs, much less pay ourselves (see below for more details).

This process was the right process for this event, given its focus and goals. It is not the right, or even necessary, process for other events that we do. For example, our next big event, InfoGovCon15 is inexpensive ($400 or less for 2.5 days), democratic (with session voting), and open to all.

As good as these results were, I have to say it still bothers me personally that 1 person (the 3.2% below) said that they were “very dissatisfied” with the event. Why? What did we do wrong? Were you at the wrong event? If you are reading, please contact me and let me know.

Why Did People Come to the Event?

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It is so important, as we all march down this new road, that we learn from each other and exchange lessons learned. I love that this forum gave me a chance to meet my peers and be educated!

Vicki Lee Clewes

Nearly 100% of participants said that the reason they attended was to “learn what others are doing to advance information governance at their organizations.” It is very rewarding to see this result because so much of what we do at the IGI is focused on connecting our members to other members. You consistently tell us things like, “please just help us understand what other organizations are doing,” a request we have worked to fulfill in multiple ways, including our Annual Report, our online community of thousands of IG practitioners, our IG Boot Camps, our soon-to-be-published Benchmarking Report, and events like CIGO Summit and InfoGovCon. The next most common answer was “to network,” a very closely related concept.

How We Did on the Details

What a great and diverse group of colleagues. The event allowed us to share our IG stories. It is so helpful knowing I’m not alone in my IG pain.

Sharon Keck, Polsinelli, PC

Events live or die based on the details, and I was happy that each aspect of our conference from the smallest detail to the highest-level theme was highly rated. (i.e., in each case, higher than 4 out of 5). For example, participants rated the speakers at 4.45, the registration process 4.6, and the individual interaction at 4.26.

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Our Speakers

Information is not an IT problem, but a business problem. The CIGO Summit provided the perfect vehicle for developing a corporate cross-functional information strategy (Marketing, E-Discovery, Compliance, IR, Business Practices investigations, etc.) that balances organizational legal and technical challenges while maintaining business critical information in a consistent and defensible manner in order to deliver critical elements to support sustainable growth. I highly recommend it to those that wish to align themselves with thought leaders in the space. Get out in front of the information conundrum (volume rich, knowledge poor) and become an advocate for change.

Tim Kaufman, UTC

Our speakers, who we chose very careful and curated to fit into the overall theme and goal of the event, were also rated very highly, with each speaker receiving a rating over 4 out of 5. A certain senior level IGI official, who hosted and facilitated the event, received the highest speaker rating (but please don’t tell him that as he is already almost unbearable).

Unlike most industry events, we folded paid, professional speakers into the program because we wanted to expose our participants to fresh, expert viewpoints that would help them grow as IG leaders. Those speakers were also rated highly (4.43 and 4.11). We also put our sponsor speakers through the wringer, asking them to encapsulate their most important messages into a 6 minute and 40 second presentation comprised of 20 slides that auto-advance every 20 seconds. Each one of our sponsor speakers (Sue TrombleyRob HamiltonJulie Colgan, and Trent Livingston) rose to the challenge and did a magnificent job under pressure in providing useful, targeted information for this audience, and they were highly rated as well (an average rating of 4 out of 5).

What Did Participants Like Most About the Event?

Participating in the CIGO Summit was a unique opportunity to engage with many of IG’s leading professionals. The thorough and fast-paced agenda exceeded my expectations, both from a content perspective and as a venue for the frank exchange of ideas.

Susan Wortzman

Here’s what participants told us they liked most about the event:

  • Seniority of delegates.
  • Event size and very interactive.
  • So many senior IG people in one place- there is power in numbers and an agreement on how to move forward.
  • Impactful agenda. Powerful interaction. Brilliantly executed.
  • The interaction with brilliant IG visionaries and practitioners.
  • The care with which it was designed.
  • Being able to interact with so much talent and experience.
  • Being involved with people promoting an emerging field
  • The professionalism with which polarized opinions could be discussed
  • Incredible gathering of IG thought leaders. Great speakers, great activities.
  • I learned a lot, got inspired, and met lots of smart people.
  • Practical insight from practitioners, war stories, gathered a really high-quality group
  • I liked the mix of people who attended and the content was excellent.
  • The constant collaboration and not just a PowerPoint and a person – it was like having a conversation with your speaker.

What Did Participants Like Least About the Event?

When designing this event, I had a pretty good idea what the answer to this question would be:

  • Compressed timeframe.
  • I actually would have liked it to be longer.
  • Intense day – very packed.
  • Not enough time for topic.
  • Not enough time!
  • Time crunch.
  • Very long intense day. Might be better over 1 1/2 days.
  • Went too fast.
  • That it only lasted a day.

I literally cannot think of the last time I went to an event and left thinking that it was too short. If we had to fail in some way, I’m happy to fail in this way. I absolutely acknowledge that that we tried to do too much in one day. But, we had committed to a one-day event (somewhat arbitrarily I suppose, based on the assumption that it would be easier to pull off, which now I realize is not true) a long time ago, and needed to stick with it.

So, I aggressively cut and cut until I arrived at what I though needed to be the minimum topics we needed to cover. I knew it would be intense. I knew it would be too much. But I was more comfortable making a mistake in that direction than the other, which I could not bear: i.e., empty, fluffy, retread content full of the same old platitudes squeezed between hour-long “networking breaks.”

Let’s talk about some of the other things that people did not like:

  • “Having vendors there.”

The market simply does not enable us to host an event like this, with people of this level of seniority, in an accessible major city, with the expected level of fit and finish, without sponsors. Without sponsors, the ticket price of this event just to allow us to break even on the hard costs would have been over $2500, which seems like a lot for a one-day event that does not result in some kind of certification or specific set of marketable skills, or at least promise to change your life forever. If we actually wanted to make money, and cover the thousands of hours of planning and execution time an event like this takes, we would have to charge much more.

Or, we can ask for the support of the providers in our IGI community, which we did. But, we did it in a very considered way. Our sponsors were allowed to send 1 or 2 people (depending on sponsor level) to the event, and not sales and marketing people. They needed to be senior IG subject matter experts who could contribute to the discussion. And that is what we did – we had several of the most recognized provider SMEs in the room who added great value to the discussion.

Also, there is a very clear and obvious reason to “have vendors in the room.” Quite simply, the problem of IG cannot be solved without technology. In my view, information about what technology is available and what it can to is just as valuable as information about experiences, successes, techniques, and tips. At the IGI our mission it to promote IG as far and wide as we can, and that includes promoting awareness of what is possible with technology currently available on the market.

Now the obvious question: why don’t we just do the event at a less expensive location, and let participants pay a lower rate, but one that would cover both the hard and soft costs? Well, if anyone has any ideas on how we attract and satisfy a room of CxO, SVP, VP, and Director-level attendees who already have too much on their plates to an event, venue and location that costs less than half of what a typical venue costs, please call me immediately at 646 450 4468. That being said, the hotel conference business is not a pleasant one, and we are looking at alternative venues and approaches that can both reduce costs and increase attendee value.

Would People Attend Again?

Hard numbers and soft skills: Great case studies, roadmaps and networking toward elevating the information governance stewardship. Thank you.

Mary Mack

84% of people who attended said it was very likely (52%) or likely (32%) that they would attend this event again next year. We will do this event again, and evolve it each time, many more times. The focus of this first event was to introduce the concept of the CIGO, and to build a Playbook that aspiring CIGOs and other in that ecosystem could use to explain the role and help build the case for it (look for the first edition of the Playbook in July). We will continue to provide education, networking, and community around the topic of IG leadership. We got the ball rolling with this event and will continue as a core part of our mission.

Thank you to everyone who attended and to everyone who made this event a success. If you want to participate in or support our next CIGO Summit, please let me know.

Barclay

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What Is Unstructured Information & Why Is It So Challenging?

B. Blair Favorite Photos of 2013-25

“Information retrieval is a significant problem for businesses. Further, the extent of the problem worsens with increasing size of the document collection [and] the less formal the information stored.”

Information Retrieval in Business: An Unmet Challenge[i]

Unstructured information, at its simplest, is information that does not reside in the rows and columns of a database. Any database user understands that the meaning of a field in a database is a combination of what the row and the column each mean, such as the price of a widget on a certain date. However, unlike the structured information that resides in databases, unstructured information does not always have a predetermined form, business purpose, use, value, or security classification.

As a result, managing unstructured information is tricky. Many long-established techniques for database administration simply do not apply. This complexity also makes calculating the total cost of unstructured information difficult.

Unstructured information comes in many forms, including word processing documents, spreadsheets, social media posts, and log files automatically generated by computer servers. Some unstructured information has more structure than others (email messages, for example, all have a header, subject line, and message body). Some call this information semi-structured information, but for our purposes, we will use the term unstructured information to include semi-structured information as well.

The volume of unstructured information is growing dramatically. Analysts estimate that, over the next decade, the amount of data worldwide will grow by 44 times (from .8 Zetabytes to 35 Zetabytes: 1 Zetabyte = 1 trillion Gigabytes).[ii] However, the volume of unstructured information will actually grow 50% faster than structured data. Analysts also estimate that fully 90% of unstructured information will require formal governance and management by 2020. In other words, the problem of unstructured information governance is growing faster than the problem of data volume itself.

What makes unstructured information so challenging? There are several factors, including

  • Horizontal vs. Vertical. Unstructured information is typically not clearly attached to a department or a business function. Unlike the vertical focus of an ERP database, for example, an email system serves multiple business functions – from employee communication to filing with regulators – for all parts of the business. Unstructured information is much more horizontal, making it difficult to develop and apply business rules.
  • Formality. The tools and applications used to create unstructured information often engender informality and the sharing of opinions that can be problematic in litigation, investigations, and audits – as has been repeatedly demonstrated in front page stories over the past decade. This problem is not likely to get any easier as social media technologies and mobile devices become more common in the enterprise.
  • Management Location. Unstructured information does not have a single, obvious home. Although email systems rely on central messaging servers, email is just as likely to be found on a file share, mobile device, or laptop hard drive. This makes the application of management rules more difficult than the application of the same rules in structured systems, where there is a close marriage between the application and the database.
  • “Ownership” Issues. No employee thinks that they “own” data in an accounts receivable system like they “own” their email, or documents stored on their hard drive.  Although such information generally has a single owner, i.e., the organization itself, this mindset can make the imposition of management rules for unstructured information more challenging than structured data.
  • Classification. The business purpose of a database is generally determined prior to its design. Unlike structured information, the business purpose of unstructured information is difficult to infer from the application that created or stores the information. A word processing file stored in a collaboration environment could be a multi-million dollar contract or a lunch menu. As such, classification of unstructured content is more complex and expensive than structured information.

Taken together, these factors reveal a simple truth: managing unstructured information is a separate and distinct discipline from managing databases. Moreover, determining the costs and benefits of owning and managing unstructured information is a unique – but essential – challenge.


[i] Michael D. Gordon, “Information Retrieval in Business: An Unmet Challenge,” The University of Michigan, 1991. Online at, http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/35654

[ii] International Data Corporation, “The 2011 Digital Universe Study,” June 2011. Online at, http://www.emc.com/collateral/demos/microsites/emc-digital-universe-2011/index.htm

Quiz Time: Get a Free Book

I have been doing some research into data remediation and I came across this interesting model that I think fits pretty well. But it is not from the information governance or even the IT world. The first person to tell me in the comments precisely where this model originates will get a copy of my latest book.

Remediation

Today’s IG PowerPoint Slide: What Does Unstructured Information Really Cost Organizations?

Ten Factors Driving the Total  Cost of Owning Unstructured InformationEarly this year I was lucky enough (thanks to a great sponsor) to carve out some significant research and writing time to answer a complicated (and maybe even complex) set of questions: what does unstructured information really cost? How do we answer this question? Which kinds of costs should be included in the answer? Can we use this answer to drive desirable Information Governance behaviors?

I looked at existing models for structured data, studied the emerging Big Data market, talked to clients and experts, and developed some answers to these questions that I think are actually pretty novel. You can download the entire paper here now (at the website of Nuix, the sponsor), and you can also follow along here as I discuss out some of the key ideas and findings over the next few weeks.

A PowerPoint slide (with notes)  is available for download here: IG PowerPoint Slide of the Day from Barclay T Blair-10 Factors Driving Unstructured Information Cost. If you do use it, I would appreciate you letting me know how and where. 

Unstructured information is ubiquitous. It is typically not the product of a single-purpose business application. It often has no clearly defined owner. It is endlessly duplicated and transmitted across the organization. Determining where and how unstructured information generates cost is difficult.

However, it is possible. Our research shows that there are at least ten key factors that drive the total cost of owning unstructured information. These ten factors identify where organizations typically spend money throughout the lifecycle of managing unstructured information. These factors are listed in Figure 1, along with examples of elements that typically increase cost (“Cost Drivers,” on the left side) and elements that typically reduce costs (“Cost Reducers,” on the right hand side).

  1. E-Discovery. Finding, processing, and producing information to support lawsuits, investigations and audits. Unstructured information is typically the most common target in e-discovery, and a poorly managed information environment can add millions of dollars in cost to large lawsuits. Simply reviewing a gigabyte of information for litigation can cost $14,000.[i]
  2. Disposition. Getting rid of information that no longer has value because it is duplicate, out of date, or has no value to the business. In poorly managed information environments, just “separating the wheat from the chaff” can cost large organizations millions of dollars. For enterprises with frequent litigation, the risk of throwing away the wrong piece of information only increases risk and cost. Better management and smart information governance tools drive costs down.
  3. Classification and Organization. Keeping unstructured information organized so that employees can us it. Also necessary so management rules supporting privacy, privilege, confidentiality, retention, and other requirements can be applied.
  4. Digitization and Automation. Many business processes continue to be a combination of digital, automated steps and paper-based, manual steps. Automating and digitizing these processes requires investment, but also can drive significant returns. For example, studies have shown that automating Accounts Payable “can reduce invoice processing costs by 90 percent.”[ii] 
  5. Storage and Network Infrastructure. The cost of the devices, networks, software, and labor required to store unstructured information. Although the cost of the baseline commodity (i.e., a gigabyte of storage space) continues to fall, for most organizations overall volume growth and complexity means that storage budgets go up each year. For example, between 2000 and 2010, organization more than doubled the amount they spent on storage-related software even though the cost of raw hard drive space dropped by almost 100 times.[iii] 
  6. Information Search, Access, and Collaboration. The cost of hardware, software, and services designed to ensure that information is available to those who need it, when they need it. This typically includes enterprise content management systems, enterprise search, case management, and the infrastructure necessary to support employee access and use of these systems.
  7. Migration. The cost of moving unstructured information from outdated systems to current systems. In poorly-managed information environments, the cost of migration can be very high – so high that some organizations maintain legacy systems long after they are no longer supported by the vendor just to avoid (more likely, to simply defer) the migration cost and complexity.
  8. Policy Management and Compliance. The cost of developing, implementing, enforcing, and maintaining information governance policies on unstructured information. Good policies, consistently enforced will drive down the total cost of owning unstructured information.
  9. Discovering and Structuring Business Processes. The cost of identifying, improving, and routinizing business processes that are currently ad hoc and disorganized. Typical examples include contract management and accounts receivable as well as revenue-related activities such as sales and customer support. Moving from informal, email and document-based processes to fixed workflows drives down cost.
  10. Knowledge Capture and Transfer. The cost of capturing critical business knowledge held at the department and employee level and putting that information in a form that enables other employees and part of the organization to benefit from it. Examples include intranets and their more contemporary cousins such as wikis, blogs, and enterprise social media platforms.
The purpose of this model is primarily to get us thinking about how to account for the cost of unstructured information, in the context of real-world challenges and activities. I view it as a starting point – so let me know what you think.
 
If you find this graphic useful, you are free to use it in your own presentations under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
 

[i] Nicholas M. Pace, Laura Zakaras, “Where the Money Goes: Understanding Litigant Expenditures for Producing Electronic Discovery,” RAND Institute for Civil Justice, 2012. Online at, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2012/RAND_MG1208.pdf

[ii] “A Detailed Guide to Imaging and Workflow ROI,” The Accounts Payable Network, 2010

[iii] For detail on the source of this number, see my blog post here.