The single most important asset your business has is its information. It’s the engine that drives business – all that who, what, where, when and why data. In fact, an entire industry grew around it and the technology used to capture that data.
But if your information is just being collected and not used, what good is it?
CommArc CEO and founder Phil Johnson has coined a new phrase to replace the traditional IT model – Information Trust.
For Johnson, a 30-year veteran of the IT industry, said making predictions about technology is getting harder than ever as new disruptions are always around the corner. The one thing that holds true, however, is the importance and value of information to business.
“If information is important, then accurate information is absolutely critical,” Johnson said.
“We can pretty much take the “technology” bit in IT for granted these days. Most computing platforms, whether they be hosted in-house or via some type of service, are stable and dependable. Technology is anywhere and everywhere.
“But you must be able to trust what your system is telling you. The development of a robust trust strategy is what makes the difference between being reactive and proactive – and reactive businesses don’t tend to survive very long.”
Johnson said in the hunt for improvement, businesses can get distracted by the ‘next big thing’ in technology, without first making sure that the current thing is actually working.
“It’s easy to look at a new system and say “that will solve all of our issues”, and maybe it will,” he said.
“The most common reasons I see organisations changing is to a) lower cost, or b) on the promise of something better.
“I get the cost equation – although most things outside of the corporate machines are negotiable – but it’s the promise of “something better” that concerns me. We have all seen IT projects fail, and often it’s not because of the platform but the lack of commitment to success that trips things up.”
The advent of renting Software as a Service (SaaS) has liberated some businesses, Johnson said, but it can also lead to information silos – where information about core business functions is kept separate from other business functions, and so decision making can occur in a vacuum.
“It’s very easy to rent and implement a SaaS application that appears to solve abusiness problem. However, if this data is then locked into a cloud silo then it is only good for the purpose intended, and it may not contribute to your bigger business picture.
“On the other hand, if it does solve a critical business issue then there are certainly ways to deal with the silo effect.
“You need to trust that the information you are getting is accurate, timely, relevant, and on point for your business. If you don’t feel you can trust it, then you need to do something about it.”
Johnson suggests answering the following when considering your Information Trust strategy:
- Are you getting what you need from your current information platforms?
- Are you seeing the right information?
- Does it pertain to your business as it is today?
- Are you having to spreadsheet your data excessively?
- Is everything timely?
- Does it take you several months to identify an issue with your business?
- Are you always analysing your performance retrospectively?
- Is it strategic?
- Can you use information to support business decisions?
- Do you feel you are a bit tactically blind?
- Do you feel the competition is outflanking you?
- Do you have trust?
- Does it match your gut feelings?
- Can you verify information accuracy?
- Can you rely on this?
“The keys to developing an Information Trust strategy revolve around understanding what you need from your information platform, and then comparing this to what you are currently getting,” Johnson said.
“If you feel there are some large gaps then you need to think about addressing them. This could include:
- Reviewing, using points 1 – 4 above, and identifying where your current systems don’t stand up
- Building a careful strategy to implement change to the way you collect, input, analyse and otherwise use your information to drive your business.
“If, after analysis, you decide to tweak your current system or implement a new one then it’s a great opportunity to reset your business around an Information Trust model.”
Johnson said the promise of ‘something better’ should be secondary to a good long look at what you’ve got, what it’s giving you, and if you can trust the information you’re getting to make the decisions that count.
“New technology won’t fix a broken strategy, and the best business strategy should always be founded in trust.”