New EMC Council Provides Guidance on Turning Information Into Assets
If you are one of the many organizations today struggling to not only get control of your information, but also get it to the right people at the right time, EMC (news, site) wants to help you. The enterprise content management vendor has assembled a council of IT leaders that are working to offer best practices and expert guidance on how to use your information to gain competitive advantage.

Information Challenged

Everyone struggles to get control of the information flowing through their organizations today. It comes in just about every format you can think of, structured and unstructured, and shows no sign of slowing down. But getting control of that information is only the first step in the process. How do you then use that information to your advantage?

Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something right is to learn from others who have been in your shoes and are likely still walking the information highway. EMC has assembled a council of IT leaders, including CIOs and VPs of some large organizations that are working over the next year to provide best practices and guidance on how to get control of your information and turn it into assets that can be used to your advantage.

CMSWire spoke with Whitney Tidmarsh, Chief Marketing Officer, Content Management and Archiving Division for EMC about the council and its first paper.

Council for Information Advantage

The Council for Information Advantage (CIA) currently includes 9 IT leaders, but the door is still open for more to get involved. The plan is for the council to put out a number of papers over the course of the year on various aspects of information advantage. At the AIIM conference today, EMC released the first paper in the series, "Creating Winning Strategies for Information Advantage".

The paper outlines the problem many organizations struggle with, that being that many are still struggling to know what they have and manage it so that it's available for knowledge workers. But it's also not just about proper management, it's about leveraging it for business advantage.

The council has made three recommendations on how your organization can become an "information-advantaged company."

Transform information liabilities into business assets through information governance

Think about your information as a potential liability and how you can turn it into an asset. The best the way to do this is by creating an enterprise wide information governance policy. This policy will control how information is "preserved, secured, accessed, and used across the enterprise." This is the foundation you will need to allow you to turn your information into assets.

The council notes that siloed governance practices won't work, and that you need to collaborate across the organization to create your governance strategy. The best way to do this? Create your own council with representatives from legal, records management, audit, finance and key business divisions.

Elevate information architecture above technology infrastructure

Before you start thinking about or implementing your technology infrastructure think about your information architecture. How do you elevate the information architecture across your IT systems and provide ways for users to access that information? Information should be "integrated, accessible, searchable and actionable."

“One of the interesting aspects and challenges of recording and managing information is that we never anticipate all the potential uses for it,” said John Chickering of Fidelity. “The reason information exists in the first place is to enable a business action that presumably results in some business reward. Companies today are reasonably effective at anticipating near-term uses for information, but anticipating future uses for it—well, that’s very difficult.

This means you need to stop implementing those siloed business systems, technologies and platform. Instead create a set of priorities that guide technical decisions. Also consider adding an Enterprise Information Architect role to your organization whose job is to define an enterprise information architecture and ensure technology decision are based on it.

Balance people and process with technology

Changing how people work can be much more challenging than changing technology. You need to balance the needs of your people with process and technology, thinking about how these changes can affect day-to-day behavior.

The council recommends finding key people in your organization to become change advocates. And don't think the ones that are the most dissatisfied should be kept at bay -- these people can become the best advocates you have.

“To make changes stick, you have to spend at least as much time on the people side of the equation as you do the technology side,” said Joe Solimando of Disney Consumer Products. “No matter how great the technology is, you still have to persuade people to use it. It’s not enough to conduct some [employee] training when the project is done. You have to make them feel invested in the project in the first place.”

Solid Advice Packaged Together

Some may read the individual recommendations and say "yes, we already know this". And taken individually you may think it's been done before. But each recommendation on its own does not support an information-advantaged organization.

It's the combination of these best practices that will help you get control of your information and start using it in ways that give you competitive advantage.

Keep in mind that this paper is about the strategy. That's the beginning. Turning it into an action plan is the next step and will be the focus of future papers from the council.

This is just the start. To get your copy of the paper "Creating Winning Strategies for Information Advantage, and learn more about the council, go to