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Information is clearly one of an organization’s most valuable assets. Just look at the amount companies spend on managing and securing their highly-prized company and customer information if you have any doubt. 

But measuring the value of information isn’t as obvious, largely because it’s not a clearly established practice — except in the accounting function where intellectual property value is investigated.

As a business looking to prioritize information management, how do you work out the most valuable information you have, and more importantly, ensure it supports business objectives? The answer lies in analyzing and understanding this information, then putting a value on it for your business. Once you’ve accomplished this, you can build and prioritize your information management strategy.

Not All Information Is Created Equally

Very much like physical assets, not all information is the same, or created in the same way. Some information is clearly more important than others. For example, R&D information in an engineering organization, and rules and procedures in a business services organization, could be deemed higher value than tweets and generic email exchanges between co-workers. Thinking in terms of this illustration will help us classify information based on the different values they hold.

If you think about it, in the case of R&D information, its value can be directly tied to the various business objectives the organization may have, and tied to the bigger overarching goal — in this case increasing innovation. The direct link between information management and business objectives has been overlooked by many, yet offers enormous potential to a brand.

Related Article: Information Deserves a Spot on Your Balance Sheets

Which Information Is the Most Important?

Depending on the nature of your organization and how information is used, there are many ways to measure the value of information. A logical starting point should be to choose areas of data based on their relation to the company’s strategic objectives. This will give you an indication of the true value they represent, and the order in which they should be prioritized. Here are some typical areas that most brands should at least consider:

Intrinsic value: How correct, complete and exclusive is the information?

Information is valuable only when it is complete, accurate, timely and exclusive. In regulated industries, there is a great emphasis on using information that possesses this value for conducting day-to-day business. Using information that doesn’t have integrity could result in corporate and regulatory violations and fines. Systems are put in place to monitor the flow of information, its access, and trace changes happening to it over a period of time. In this case technology and analytics can dramatically reduce risk and costs for organizations in their quest for data integrity. Clearly, the bigger business objective here is to maintain and secure high corporate and regulatory compliance, while having the flexibility to enable competitive differentiation.

Related Article: 'Good Enough' Data Will Never Be Good Enough

Business value: How good and relevant is this information for efficient business operations?

This property relates to the use of information for conducting day to day business in an organization. Internal business information needs to offer availability and collaboration, and ultimately drive seamless operations across borders and languages. For teams to work efficiently across silos, systems need to capture information, manage and deliver it in an easy manner. Knowledge is lost when systems are not integrated and knowledge creators work in silos away from knowledge users. In short, to enable one organization’s strategic objectives, intelligent information creation and reviewing systems to create, review and deliver information become stepping stones.

Performance value: How does this information effect key business drivers?

The reason we need to measure the performance value of information is because we are looking to support higher efficiency, better customer focus, better employee engagement and higher visibility into systems and tools to empower everyone better in a distributed work environment. Higher efficiency at work can be enabled by reducing redundant information, ensuring clean information as well as effective and fast information search. Organizations are consolidating systems to have an end-to-end view, but this might not be a one-size-fits all solution. What works best for marketing functions might not fit the requirements of other departments, like finance. Organizations should look into technology that provides holistic solutions to their business problems, and look at how their content strategy and technology can provide the foundations for future growth.

Cost value: What would it cost if we leak, lose or misapply this information?

Security around information is a critical aspect that can be used to assign value to information. The bottom line is: what’s the true cost if this information is leaked to competitors, or there’s a data breach or complete failure of information strategies? What happens if the wrong information gets printed on pharmaceutical labels? Besides several wasted hours of subject matter experts and the rework, litigations and bad reputation can, particularly in a post-GDPR world, bring down a business. In organizations where information is their core product, security becomes even more critical. In these cases the cost value of information is directly linked to the highly regulated nature of business. That’s why organizations that operate in regulated spaces should be looking into the cost value of information as a key criteria when making business decisions around systems and technologies that deal with this information.

Related Article: Why You Need a Unified Information Strategy

Economic value: How does this information contribute to the bottom line?

When customer-facing agents can provide accurate and precise information to a client they can close deals faster, better and ultimately provide a better customer experience. With a growing information overload across organizations in the world, finding accurate, timely information (and highly contextual) is growing in importance. Systems that enable this should be on the radar of C-level executives. Information management technologies and their impact on the bottom line are directly linked, and analytics can be used to monitor and harness this value further.

Market value: what top line gains could we get from selling or trading this information?

Several organizations have successfully built their entire revenue model around monetizing data: Google and Facebook are the famous ones that spring to mind, but there are other ways to connect information to an organization’s bottom line. More often than not organizations are sitting on a wealth of information and content that could be used to further augment revenues. By finding a relation between client data, and various other services used by them, organizations can generate patterns that can be used as templates to offer similar services to the identical customer group. Small changes like these can accelerate sales by opening up new customer opportunities and markets. 

Related Article: How Modern Information Management Can Lead to Happier Customers

Role of Content and Data in an Organization

Content has the power to complement and complete the picture painted by numerical data in an organization, driving various initiatives across the business. Numerical data and content together constitute the core — which needs to be addressed to derive the highest value from information in an organization. Based on the goal of the organization, you can choose to monetize content and data, as well as drive business objectives from knowing where to focus.

In the next article, we’ll discuss the various ways to manage different forms of content and data and what makes content fit for the objectives in an organization.