Information Management – introduction

My daily work life, like everyone else’s, consists of Information Management (IM) in some way or other. Most of us are organised, know exactly where to find what or else know someone who does. But when the IM extends further than our own immediate affairs, be that at home or at work, managing information can become complex and so difficult that eventually time is wasted looking for information, rewriting ‘lost’ documents, wading through e-mail inboxes trying to find that one that should have been archived in the proper folder, even forgetting to invoice for work done etc. (Yes this seems improbable to most of us Micros, but it happens.)

Even Micros need IM, but generally manage to cope until they start to expand to the point where an extra hand is really needed, or outsourcing some of the tasks will have to be considered.

IM is generally perceived as something only bigger organisations need and then the association of expensive Information Technology (IT) systems generally arises. IM is not really about IT. Information should be organised in such a way that it is easily accessible and available – and IT is an enabler, an absolutely essential part of life today.

IM is clearly intertwined with in all aspects of life, not just work. So we are all ‘experts’ in at least some aspects of it.

Information itself can be categorised in many different ways, so for the sake of simplicity, High level information is knowledge about the information that exist within the organisation, gained by people and generally stored using information technology, though paper still plays a vital part in information. The paperless office is still just a concept.

Tacit information is the knowledge we gain from experience of practical work and a very important part of the sharing of information. Human interaction, body language, words chosen, tone of voice – these subtle parts of information cannot be stored on IT, nor can they be managed. But other aspects of information can be.

Information Management is defined by Matthew Hinton* as “The conscious process by which information is gathered and used to assist in decision making at all levels of an organization (…) in other words IM does not just happen: it has to be thought about.” With the explosive development of IT – smarter and more sophisticated systems – just think of the new models of mobile telephone – information overload is beginning to cause stress. (All those e-mails, SMS’ to read and answer…)

 It makes good business sense to try to organise information both to cut down on these stress levels and also to save time.

As IM is relevant to all of us, and I am in the process of re-vamping my homepages, I thought it could be useful for myself to focus on just what exactly I offer for sale when Information Management is offered – and also for readers of the blog, to cover various aspects of it in a series of blog postings.

* Matthew Hinton (ed),  Introducing Information Management: the business approach. Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford 2006. ISBN 0 7506 6668 4