Australia’s business community is increasingly passing a critical lens over the information it needs to manage; however, information management projects remain deeply challenging to deliver.
Ever think about just how much information your organisation handles on a daily basis? An IDC report from early 2021 puts the global growth of data at 61% to 175 zettabytes by 2025, most of which will reside in the cloud as data centres.
Information management and data management projects are in the spotlight as digital transformation programs accelerate and the difference between the transformations that succeed vs those that fail is how well they develop and leverage their data and information management strategies.
One of the critical enablers for success is leveraging information and data management as mechanisms for solving business problems and delivering the tangible insights that enable a business to deliver its targeted outcomes. Business is increasingly shifting to predictive and advanced analytics to manage a range of business forecasting, workforce planning, supply chain management, and other functions, which is fuelling the drive toward transformation.
Which is where an understanding of the organisation’s capabilities, culture, and its ability to change how it uses its information and data platforms comes into sharp focus.
Digital transformations have a high fail rate
Recent research from BCG shows that even before the pandemic, 80% of organisations were gearing up for or in the throes of digital transformation programs. The research revealed that only 30% are likely to succeed in delivering their intended outcomes.
The clues for the high rate of failure are very often found in the organisation’s ability to deliver transformative change.
The inherent challenge is that issues with managing, accessing, and leveraging organisational information and data platforms can be difficult to map and address for a range of reasons – culture, behaviour, lack of process clarity, and distilling the priorities around which problems to solve now vs later.
Why is this so hard to address? By the nature of organisations and people, information management can morph over time, as can data management. That comes down in part to how well the organisation’s processes and platforms evolve as they scale.
Information management as part of digital transformation
COVID-19 provided the impetus for many Australian organisations to begin or expand their digital transformation programs to better enable their strategic and operational teams to adapt to a very challenging set of conditions. However, it can be deeply challenging to deliver change during more normal business conditions, let alone during a considerable health, social, and economic crisis.
Few organisations put information management at the heart of digital transformation however the link is undervalued, as is the role of change. Information management does have a critical role in the transformation roadmap for delivering organisational goals as it links the information silos, data, analytics, and flexibility.
Unfortunately, IM projects have a poor track record, particularly in the integration of IM systems into the wider business and while they often are tagged as being ‘transformative’, most are transformative in name only.
Are information management projects difficult to deliver?
In short, yes. Information – and data – management projects are inherently complex to deliver as they require the integration of disparate systems, shifts to cloud-based platforms, managing and moving vast amounts of data while attempting to address a huge range of business needs. All too often, organisations undervalue the role of change management and project capability as part of the process.
One of the critical enablers for success is positioning information management as a tool to solve business problems while demonstrating the benefits in tangible outcomes that a business wants to deliver.
Think of all the information a typical business holds: documents, records, web content, digital assets, education resources, collaborative work, workforce data, personnel records, and financial information. These all rely on technology platforms to enable access and utilisation.
Effective information management must allow efficient use of all these resources as well as the data a company inhales and stores, providing the business with the ability to undertake effective analysis for a variety of needs such as workforce planning, financial planning, HR, supply chain, and many other data-driven processes.
Leveraging analytics that sit atop of well-managed data platforms can provide the sort of transformational shift that tightly run organisations need to look ahead in their planning. However, data on its own is not information and only becomes valuable when it is transformed in such a way to provide the insights that enable decision makers to access, understand, and leverage it.
But they also rely on users understanding how to utilise those platforms and follow processes to keep them in tune. Driving digital, transformative change requires the ability to bring those users along on the journey — a difficult and often nebulous path for leaders and stakeholders.
Managing change in information and data access
Improving information management practices across the organisation is a critical part of transformation as organisations shift from relying on past performance and instead focus on leveraging data and analytics as part of forward planning and predictive performance.
The transformation team need to bring stakeholders across the organisation on the change journey as it will typically have significant impacts to how information is made available to the right people, in the right format, at the right time. The team also needs to address change across a range of domains such as:
- information asset management
- information security
- records management
- information governance, and
- data from the numerous tools and technologies within the business
- access to and use management of company or organisational information
Considering the disparate systems and processes that an organisation uses to create, use, and control corporate information, the scale and duration of change in digital transformation can be challenging for users.
Delivering successful transformation is about understanding your organisation’s capacity to change
We’ve talked writ large about the issues that come into play in successful or failed s.. There are numerous traps that can derail a transformation and information and data projects are particularly vulnerable to failure.
While an organisation’s project delivery capability – its delivery DNA – plays an important role, there is an innate challenge when cultural forces go to work in an organisation: Getting any traction for turnaround or progress becomes immensely difficult if the forces at play don’t agree or align to strategy.
A successful transformation of information and data management is no small undertaking, which means that leaders need to drive the change, make clear what the change outcomes will look like and become adept at bringing their teams along on the change journey.
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