Be a Transformative Mover
Your organization is an information business, even if you don’t think it is. For any company, information can be a differentiator. It is as real as any physical plant, inventory, product or service.
For most, if not all companies, there is newly available data, connectivity, and insight generated on a regular basis. Companies are changing the way they do business by capitalizing on the available data. We live in a world that requires companies to use data to better understand its customers’ needs and desires, to improve products and services and to reduce cost and improve business efficiency.
Successful companies are using technology to cut to harness and harvest the right information. Companies are ensuring policies and practices address data that doesn’t fit the old paradigm of a “record.” Just because a law or regulation doesn’t dictate that retention of a certain kind of data, doesn’t mean it there isn’t great value to the organization.
Administrative processes such as customer call centers have been improved customer support significantly by the harnessing data that is available to them. Many customer support call centers today operate very differently than they did a decade ago. Providing online chats can significantly reduce the volume of calls and allows the younger generation of customers to use the media they prefer. Online chats can use AI technology that learns from years of knowledge generated from customers when they called for support.
A company needs to know what information it has in order to harness the value of it. Today’s reality for many companies is that information is managed all over the organization by different business units and different technology groups. It can be very challenging to cross-pollinate the data to find the bigger more valuable hidden asset.
Companies need to learn from other innovative companies that have pioneered new thinking on how data can transform their business. Companies need to find possible alternate purposes for the information. They also need to explore how cross-pollinated data from across their enterprise can be harvested to drive change.
Just because you sell widgets or services, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your information lacks value beyond its original use. All organizations need to look outside the of traditional “information box.” All information should be reviewed to determine how it may be used to improve performance, reduce cost, impact the company’s bottom line, promote sales, development new products or services, be sold to another company, etc.
To leverage information, those who create it, maintain it, share it, repurpose it, and destroy it, all need a clear understanding of value, opportunities, and risks across the enterprise, and not just for their own slice of information in isolation. Leaders should set the tone that is memorialized in the organization-wide information strategy. Leaders also clear the path to allow information to be used across functional areas and processes in support of the overarching strategy.
A clear understanding of privacy, access, use, ownership, intellectual property, and security issues must inform the analysis in order to balance risk and opportunity. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In other words, data may be exploitable but that doesn’t mean exploiting it is necessarily worth the risk or reputational dam age it may cause your company. Executives need to proactively set the “information ethics and integrity” tone for the company.
Learn from the Hiccups of Transformative Movers Facebook has undoubtedly transformed the world; the company’s platform provides an array of services that connects billions of people across the globe. But today, Facebook is being reminded that although it may have the contractual “right” to exploit user data, disregarding the user’s expectation of trust may negatively impact the public’s perception of the company and its business.
Companies may benefit by routinizing the governance of information to ensure that an ethical information mindset pervades the enterprise. It is important that all employees know the right thing to do. Some companies are building information governance programs that seek to holistically manage information to ensure compliance with laws and contractual obligations as well as doing right by the customer. The Sedona Conference Commentary on Information Governance makes clear that “[c]ompanies, including publicly traded organizations and those in highly-regulated industries, may adopt Information Governance as a complement to their internal control systems, ethics, and integrity programs to ensure information-related legal compliance and risk management.”1
1The Sedona Conference, Commentary on Information Governance, Second Edition, 20 Sedona Conf.J. 95, 117 (2019), available at https://thesedonaconference.org/sites/default/files/publications/Commentary%20on%20Information%20 Governance_0.pdf.