No, Technology Can’t Solve Your Information Problems

You see the vendor sales pitches all the time: “Our innovative technology products will solve all of your information problems and make you look super smart!” Balderdash!

The solution to your business information problems are things technology vendors cannot sell you in a box or digital download.

Is technology part of the solution to your information problems? Of course it is. I am not suggesting we go back to stone tablets and smoke signals here. But the critical parts of the solution to your business information problems are things technology vendors cannot sell you in a box or digital download. IT is not the solution to information problems any more than calculators are the solution to financial problems.

To overcome information chaos, you must define your Information Strategy, Architecture, and Governance. Your organization has to define these, perhaps with the help of one or more information management consultants. You need to move from being IT-focused to being information management focused—with IT taking an important but supportive role.

Your information strategy, architecture, and governance provide the comprehensive set of business requirements that should define your IT solutions.

Information Strategy

Your information strategy defines what you plan to do with information and why. Starting with the end in mind, information strategy builds a blueprint of what information management should look like in your organization. It also includes developing a roadmap of how to get to that future state blueprint as well as critical success factors for showing progressive improvement along the way.

Consider these questions:

  • What does our business do, and what internal and external information types and processes support our work?
  • What information management pain points do we experience, and what must we excel at to do our work better?
  • What is the vision for how our organization uses information to best support our strategic corporate initiatives, and what steps must we take to achieve that vision?
  • How do we measure our information management successes (and failures) and practice continuous improvement?

Information Architecture

Your information architecture defines the structures and channels for data, content, knowledge, records, and analytics in support of the strategy. This includes designing schemes for organizing, labeling, navigating, and searching information. It must also take into account business processes, organizational goals, and other information management needs.

Consider these questions:

  • What is our information model with the terms and relationships that accurately describe our business?
  • What categories and labels make sense for organizing our information for better findability, usability, reporting, and discovery?
  • What logical systems will contain our information, and how do we ensure each type of important information lives in its SPOT (single point of truth)?
  • How will our staff and customers navigate around our systems and the information and processes within and between them?

Information Governance

Your information governance defines the rules and roles for protecting information and ensuring its proper use. This is about getting the right information to the right people at the right time. It is also about protecting sensitive information, preserving knowledge and records, and mitigating information risks. Information governance supports your information strategy and architecture through policies and procedures that keep your information management on track.

Consider these questions:

  • What information constitutes our master data and reference data?
  • What constitutes knowledge that we need to capture and make available to increase productivity and continuity?
  • What constitutes records that must be preserved for legal or business reasons?
  • What rules, roles, and procedures are required to secure and protect our sensitive information like intellectual property and privacy data?
  • How do we mitigate risks and costs associated with information ROT (redundant, obsolete, trivial)?

Information Technology

With information strategy, architecture, and governance defined, information technology can be planned, implemented, and supported to enable real information management. This is where the solution vendors can come in. Your information strategy, architecture, and governance provide the comprehensive set of business requirements that should define your IT solutions.

Consider these questions:

  • Does the technology solution adequately support our information strategy, architecture, and governance?
  • Does the solution simplify or complicate our overall technology landscape?
  • Are there technologies in place that need to interface with this solution?
  • Are there technologies in place that should be replaced by this solution?

There are a host of other important questions to ask when solving information problems. Just make sure you consider information technology as the layer that supports—not defines—your information strategy, architecture, and governance. Then you will be on your way to solving your information management problems.




Note: This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn by J. Kevin Parker, CIP. Kevin is a recognized industry expert, speaker, and content contributor on a wide range of topics, including information management, information architecture, user experience, technology, and SharePoint. You can find him at and on Twitter @JKevinParker.

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