Creating Order From Chaos – Unlocking The True Value Of Data

Information may be the world’s new currency, but with this proliferation of information – both physical and digital – there comes an integrated and pressing problem for all companies, regardless of sector: Information Chaos, a term first coined by John Mancini, President of AIIM.

The internet of things means that the volume and velocity of information generated by businesses is growing exponentially. Dark data is constantly on the rise, and the way in which businesses organise their content is a key factor in maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s digital age.

Unchecked, this information chaos can run rampant and cause untold problems down the line. But if we can order this chaos, there is a huge amount of value that could be unlocked.

A tsunami of content

The best way to describe the information chaos in many businesses is like a tsunami of content.

Content that is created by our customers, by ourselves and by the systems we work with can all be considered a part of information chaos. It has flooded conventional ECM’s (Enterprise Content Management systems) that are not equipped to deal with the huge proliferation of information associated with the digital age.

We live in a user-centric age where every worker is competent with IT and will use whatever tools and systems they have at their disposal to make their jobs and workflow easier – regardless of consequences. That means using multiple devices and systems to store information; mobiles, tablets, cloud servers and SAAS products all containing a wealth of disparate content.

There is value there, but no real way of exploring and accessing it.

Think of it like a pyramid of information:

  • At the pinnacle is the wisdom and value that is truly beneficial to a business
  • Below that, is the knowledge gained from information, which can be applied strategically to deliver wisdom.
  • This knowledge is garnered from the structured content beneath it, and the unstructured content further down.
  • Right at the base of the pyramid is the mountain of data in all shapes and forms that engulfs most businesses. The chaos.

It is here at the base that organisation must begin.

Paper intensive processes still exist

As well as this tsunami of digital information, chaos can also be found in the piles of paper and physical documents that still dominate many workplaces.

Despite the number of digitisation options available, according to a recent AIIM survey, 39% of respondents feel there is a general lack of understanding of paper-free options in their organisation.

On top of this, a lack of leadership from senior managers on shifting to paperless processes and the individual preferences of many workers to still use physical documents ensures that chaos reigns supreme amongst paper information too.

 The effect on businesses

This chaos is affecting businesses now, and will only grow with time. The information is all there, but there is no way to access the knowledge it contains without huge amounts of effort, time and cost.

Many workers are complaining about the multiple redundant processes where they are doing the same thing over and over and inputting the same information into different places. And security officers are increasingly concerned with the rising risks that this wealth of information could cause if it is leaked in one way or another.

Some businesses may find it easier to just bury their heads in the sand. Digital space is cheap, so why not just keep storing everything somewhere and there won’t be a problem. It will be there when it’s needed.

But it’s this digital landfill that causes the chaos. All this information stored in multiple places, with:

  • No knowledge of who’s responsible for it
  • Where exactly it can be found
  • Or how it can be accessed

It’s information that poses a huge risk. If unleashed, it’s a tsunami of content that could easily drown a business. But if it can be organised effectively, it’s a reservoir of value and opportunity.

Questioning the content

Before an effective solution can be put in place, one of the first questions a business must ask itself is: What does value mean to the organisation?

On a very basic level physically or digitally storing the supplier invoices from 2002 has no practical value to anyone in or outside the business itself. Scanning a document because it is easier to manage is not the answer. Questioning what it is and how it got there is the key place to begin.

Models of information such as the traditional ‘Lifecycle’ which says all records are born and die must go out the window. The new idea is one of a continuum that we must apply to our thinking and strategies in order to truly deliver value back to our respective businesses. That means: Extrapolating information in a classification scheme

  • Adding information to an asset register
  • And putting a retenion policy in place to qualify and effectively store information

Once parametres are established, an efficent ECM or records management system can then be established, allowing information to be organised and managed cost-effectively.

And if you’ve distinguished what’s important and sensitive from what’s trivial and lacking in value, you can then focus on a solution that supports the goals of your business and the needs of your workers.

These should work hand in hand; a system that securely stores information and makes it easily searchable & sharable, and one that works with how your business operates and makes the job easier for your team.

Unlocking the value hidden in the chaos

Alongside chaos is opportunity. This wealth of information has untapped potential and huge value if we can organise the chaos and unlock it.

Through search, re-engineering, digitisation or even straightforward retention, we can mine the information and deliver real & measurable value to a business. This could then be used for better engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders, and it could help secure the growth of your company.

Value should also be articulated in strategic terms internally. The success of a business is in part dictated by the satisfaction employees have in working there and their working environment. If staff can access the right content, the right document and the right emails in immediate terms, as opposed to wading through unorganised chaos and lost information, then the value is priceless.

Of course, change is necessary, and old models may need to go out of the window. But with the right discussions and the , you’ll be able to put a process into place to organise your information chaos by:

  1. Questioning what is captured and saved.
  2. Automating its analysis and application to end-users and stakeholders as much as possible.
  3. Using proven and nonproprietary technology, especially around mobile systems, to allow internal and outward facing engagement with the content in useful, efficient and meaningful forms.
  4. Governing and managing this on an ongoing basis.

Information doesn’t stay standing long in one place and order from chaos does come at a cost – but if organised correctly, its reward can be tenfold.

We can handle your information chaos. Visit our solutions and find out how Kefron can help manage your information.


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Stephen is an expert in Information Management. With over 25 years’ experience, he understands the analysis, methods and processes that are necessary in delivering service excellence that fits businesses’ needs. His understanding encompasses all forms of data and information capture and access solutions from collaboration through DM to ECM. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

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