In an information economy: Information management must take center stage

In an information economy: Information management must take center stage

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

People and information are the most valuable assets to any organization. However, recent studies show that enterprises are struggling to organize, manage, protect, retain and effectively use information.

In their efforts to cost effectively manage information, businesses and governments are faced with five big challenges:

1. Exponential information growth -- Content is generated at an alarming rate as businesses grow and communicate faster and more frequently with increased connectivity and escalating use of mobile devices.

Enterprises should improve information management practices

2. Complicated hybrid infrastructures -- Most IT infrastructures are a complex mix of virtual, physical, hybrid and cloud components -- making it difficult to manage.

3. Escalating legal commitments and penalties -- Legal and discovery requirements continue to evolve, distracting executive management with potential fines, penalties, and even adverse publicity.

4. Information in silos -- Information that is isolated across multiple IT environments can create accessibility issues, high e-discovery costs and regulatory compliance hurdles. The result is business and operational inefficiency, diminished competitiveness and increased risk.

5. Disparate stakeholder needs -- Various business segments within an organization require different information to serve customers and outmaneuver the competition. It is up to IT to deliver that information and decide how to pay for it all. For example, the chief information security officer (CISO) needs stringent security measures to protect sensitive corporate information. The legal department, concerned with information governance, needs to ensure that legal and e-discovery costs remain low while demonstrating that the enterprise is compliant with all applicable regulations.

Making a fundamental shift in information management

With the majority of IT budgets allocated to infrastructure maintenance and storage costs, how can an organization avoid spending new money managing old information? They need the ability to locate and access the right information on demand to drive business insight, agility and gain competitive advantage. However, to do this successfully requires a fundamental shift in how organizations manage information, moving from author- or infrastructure-based information management to a holistic approach.

The holistic, top-down approach manages information throughout its life cycle based on its business value, which includes these crucial steps:

• Capture -- Secure, manage and access all types of business content from across the enterprise.

• Monitor -- Keep a watchful eye on information, allowing for automatic discovery of assets to report on topology, configuration and compliance.

• Protect -- Backup and recovery across dynamic hybrid environments, including on-premise and cloud-based infrastructure.

• Retain -- Archive, retain and retire information across all content, and purge information once expired.

• Find and use -- Locate information across all environments, enable search and e-discovery capabilities to locate the desired information.

The first step to taking a holistic management approach to information is to create a framework that offers the flexibility to set appropriate retention, protection and retirement policies with ease.

To simplify policies, develop a process that helps translate the business, legal and HR requirements into technology practices. In addition, treat all documents, content and data as "information" and eliminate classifications such as "structured" or "unstructured." The more control a company has over its intellectual assets, the better it can leverage that information to achieve business objectives.

The second, and equally crucial, step is to involve all key stakeholders, including lines of business, legal, IT and the CISO. In addition to strategic alignment, this enables organizations to eliminate redundant data storage and management costs, delivering an immediate cost savings, while adhering to corporate and regulatory governance requirements. In addition to avoiding costly penalties, streamlining information management improves the process of finding and accessing information, allowing employees to focus on driving innovation, revenue and profit.

Capitalizing on the holistic approach

To achieve these benefits requires the adoption of two strategic initiatives. One, appoint a VP of information management. The VP of information management has oversight across functions and monitors information assets from the top to take a proactive approach to protecting information and policies.

Two, align with an experienced partner that can deliver the solutions and results needed. Vendors that offer "point products" address only isolated phases of the information management life cycle. A holistic approach to information management ensures that information is managed end-to-end. This includes an integrated blend of solutions that capture, monitor, protect, retain and deliver information that is easily accessible at all times.

These solutions can be deployed over time, addressing specific and immediate needs first. In parallel, businesses and governments can build out a comprehensive system that manages information across the enterprise.

In conclusion, managing growing volumes of information doesn't have to be a daunting or expensive task. Implementing a holistic approach to information management enables organizations and governments to gain valuable business insight that improves customer and partner relationships and delivers a competitive advantage. By putting the right information in the right hands at the right time, companies can achieve greater efficiency, better respond to changing market conditions, and drive innovation.

HP creates new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society. The world's largest technology company, HP brings together a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure at the convergence of the cloud and connectivity, creating seamless, secure, context-aware experiences for a connected world. More information about HP is available at

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

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