The complex question of ‘Infonomics’ – what’s your take?

By Roger Beharry Lall | August 9, 2016

2 minute read

The idea of “infonomics”, the art & science of valuing the most intangible of intangibles – ‘information’ has become an interesting topic of discussion over the past few months. It’s a topic  and I were fortunate enough to explore while we participated in the AIIM Conference and specifically ELC.

This member-only session is a semi-annual discussion of trends in the industry exploring the future of information management… what’s happening next, helping the industry to figure out future direction and what organizations should be focusing on… as well as how the vendor community should respond.

This session was focused on the topic of Infonomics.  Now being AIIM, it’s nothing but the best, so the keynote speaker was Doug Laney the Gartner analyst who pretty much invented the term.  So he’s been figuring out these issues for, well, since before they were issues.

And it’s a complex question.  What is the value of information?  Is it how much it costs to produce it?  To replace it? Or the value of using it?  Is that ‘blueprint’ infinitely valuable, or is it just the $10 worth of paper it’s printed on… or maybe it’s a defunct design and worth nothing... or maybe it’s actually a negative value.. it’s a flawed design that conflicts with architectural realities…

The model Gartner puts out suggests organizations look at a variety of factors, including:

  • Intrinsic value
  • Business value
  • Performance value
  • Cost value
  • Market value
  • Economic value

The hardest to measure of course is the economic value which is based on the potential, often unrealized, value of information.  Unfortunately, that’s also the most important, executive appealing, kind of number.  So while the intrinsic value of this blog (for example), might be the $10 Adlib pays me to write it, if it gets read 1000 times, and results in a customer changing their behavior, implementing new solutions, and increasing sales by 10%, then maybe this same blog is worth $10M! 

The big challenge, especially for those in the ECM, IG and RIM spaces, is that there’s a lot of content processing that needs to be done ‘pre-emptively’ if you ever hope to unlock future potential value down the road.  De-duplicating, classifying, archiving, ECM migration, etc… these all have distinct benefits in their own rights (cost savings, risk reduction, eDiscovery preparedness, etc.) … but they don’t necessarily offer a ‘wow’ moment. 

However… unless you take care of these administrative tasks, you’ll never, ever get to that moment.  You can’t apply big data analytics, find the missing contract, improve that customer’s experience, etc. etc. if your content isn’t ready in the first place.

Ultimately, though, maybe the bigger question is whether you should even bother valuing information?   It may seem just an academic exercise?  Well, perhaps, but I would argue that if we – the collective information management community – had a more clear understanding of the value of information…. we might see true advancement.  Improved career prospects, organizational power, project dominance, increased budgeting, elevation of the RIM/KM scope, and more. By placing values on information management activities, the result can only be elevated knowledge, faster and better business decision-making and fewer impediments to innovation.

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