By getting a better handle on information explosion, enterprises can gain clarity in understanding what is really going on within the businesses, and, especially these days, across dynamic market environments.
The immediate solution approach requires capturing, storing, managing, finding, and using information better. We’ve all seen a precipitous drop in the cost of storage and a dramatic rise in the incidents of data from all kinds of devices and across more kinds of business processes, from sensors to social media.
To help better understand how to best manage and leverage information, even as it’s exploding around us, I recently spoke with Suzanne Prince, worldwide director of information solutions marketing at Hewlett-Packard (HP).
Here are some excerpts:
Prince: We’re noticing major shifts going on in the business environment, which are partially driven by the economy, but they were already happening anyway.
We’re moving more into the collaboration age, with flatter organizations. And the way is information is consumed is changing rapidly. We live in the always-on age, and we all expect and want instant access, instant gratification for whatever we want. It’s just compounding the problems.
We did a survey in February of this year in several countries around the world. It was both for IT and line-of-business decision makers. The top business priority for those people that we talked to, way and above everything else, was having the right information at the right time, when needed. It was above reducing operating costs, and even above reducing IT costs. So what it’s telling us is how business managers see this need for information as business critical.
[Yet] you often hear people saying that information is life -- it’s the lifeblood of an organization. But, in reality, that analogy breaks down pretty quickly, because it does not run smoothly through veins. It’s sitting in little pockets everywhere, whether it’s the paper files ... that get lost, on your or my memory sticks, on our laptops, or in the data center.
The growth in unstructured content is double the growth that’s going on in the structured world. ... For the longest time now, IT has really focused on the structure side of data, stuff that’s in databases. But, with the growth of content that was just mentioned -- whether it's videos, Twitter tweets, or whatever -- we’re seeing a massive uptick in the problems around content storage.
The whole category of information governance really comes into play when you start talking about cloud computing, because we’ve already talked about the fact that we’ve got disparate sources, pockets of information throughout an organization. That’s already there now. Now, you open it up with cloud and you’ve got even more.
There are quality issues, security issues, and data integration issues, because you most likely want to pull information from your cloud applications or services and integrate that within something like a customer relationship management (CRM) system to be able to pull business intelligence (BI) out.
You also need to have a governance plan that brings together business and IT. This is not just an IT problem, it’s a business problem and all parties need to be at the table. Another area to look at is content repository consolidation, or data mart consolidation. I’m talking about consolidating the content and data stores.
You really need to look at deleting what I would call "nuisance information," so that you’re not storing things you don’t need to. In other words, if I’m emailing you to see if you’d like to come have a cup of coffee, that doesn’t need to be stored. So, optimizing storage and optimizing your data center infrastructure.
People are now looking at information as the issue. Before they would look at the applications as the issue. Now, there's the realization that, when we talk about IT, there is an "I" there that says "Information." In reality, the work product of IT is information. It’s not applications. Applications are what move it around, but, at the end of the day, information is what is produced for the business by IT.
In HP Labs, we have eight major focus areas, and I would categorize six of them as being focused on information -- the next set of technology challenges. It ranges all the way from content transformation, which is the complete convergence of the physical and digital information, to having intelligent information infrastructure. So, it’s the whole gamut. But, six out of eight of our key projects are all based on information, information processing, and information management.