Last week I introduced the first of a three-part series, focused on helping Directors and Executives feel comfortable that digital transformation does not change the nuts and bolts of running a business. In my previous post, I talked about how business processes remain the lifeblood of business operations. Whether the processes are automated, manual, or a bit of both, you need to be clear about what activities need to be performed, in what sequence, and what decisions need to be made along the way.
This week I want to talk about information management, which is the creation, capture, management, and eventual disposal of information. Digital transformation may change the way you capture, manage, and dispose of information, but you still need to define the rules by which you are going to operate, you still need to ensure appropriate governance is in place. In fact, with the pressures on organisations to adopt services based on artificial intelligence the need for good information management practices and governance is more important than ever.
Let’s take the simple example of data retention. More often than not the focus is on minimum data retention, after all, there are regulator guidelines stipulating the minimal length of time certain types of data need to be stored. But what about maximum data retention? When you look at the Australian Privacy Principles and the direction that is headed, can you demonstrate why your systems are still holding onto data for customers you no longer serve? Or for those you serve, why do you capture certain types of data that are not essential to deliver your product or service?
Digital transformations will often introduce technologies that allow far greater integration with other systems, both internal and external to the organisation. They automate workflows. The data gets pulled out of multiple systems and duplicated onto platforms used to analyse the data and generate new insights. Digital Transformation tends to rapidly grow the amount of data you collect which can cause serious headaches down the line if you don’t have good information management practices in place.
When reviewing your organisation’s Digital Transformation, don’t ask generic questions about information management governance, be specific. Pick information risks relative to your organisation. For example, do we only capture information about our customers that is essential to deliver our products and services? When do we de-identify or dispose of the personal information related to our customers?
As with business processes, information management is not an exciting topic at the executive or boardroom table. But as with business processes, if you don’t have good information management practices in place your digital transformation is unlikely to deliver sustained success.