14 April 2014

Show Me the Money

The first Executive Conference on Information Governance convened today at Amelia Island, Florida.  Produced by ARMA International and The Sedona Conference, over 100 attorneys, RIM authorities, and technologists (along with assorted specialists in security, compliance, and other disciplines) gathered to explore the potential of and obstacles to Information Governance.  In five plenary sessions, panels of experienced and knowledgeable thought leaders shared their perceptions and understandings of this relatively new field.  There were significant contributions from attendees with supportive or complementary perspectives and experiences.

While subjects ranged from Change Management to the efficacy of new technology, the theme that emerged repeatedly, throughout the day, was ROI – Return on Investment.  At one point while taking notes, I simply wrote an entire line of repeated “ROI”s.  

It would be an overstatement to say the sessions were “All ROI, all the time,” but the frequency of the term underscores this very serious reality:  Unless Information Governance makes good business sense, its chances of adoption are small.

There are many good reasons for installing Information Governance that have nothing directly to do with money.  And there are easy examples of how instituting an Information Governance program can pay for itself in three to seven years.  The message today was these are not compelling for most organizations’ leaders.

Information Governance, for all its good logic, needs to improve a business’ or institution’s financial situation.  Without that, it is merely a good idea of low priority.  Further, the financial improvement must be measurable and it must occur in a short time frame.

Risk reduction, by itself, is not enough.  Telling an organization that its legal position will be stronger is inadequate.  Telling an organization that its five-year average of legal fees and/or fines will be reduced by 40 percent in the first year is compelling.

The ROI can come from anywhere: the legal arena, savings in storage costs, operational efficiencies, or any of several other areas.  However, the bottom line is that Information Governance lacking a solid business case is DOA – Dead on Arrival.

Again, to say that this was the sole point of the day would be misleading.  Many varied and helpful points emerged, such as the relationship between IG and current technology.  Still ROI was a recurring theme.

In Friday’s Blog, I hoped for the emergence of common definitions to align the efforts of varied Information Governors.  Alas, this was not to be.  I fear that we still have attorneys who think that IG is a synonym for eDiscovery, techies who think IG means reduced storage, and records people who equate IG with ARMA’s Principles.  Hopefully, this will be addressed tomorrow before adjournment

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