What Is Information Management?

The constant availability of information via the internet means we live in a digital world overflowing with information. With so much data at our fingertips, we have to consider how to manage it effectively.

Information management is the process of collecting information, retaining it and then properly managing its ultimate use. An MBA with a business analytics focus is well-suited to tackle the complex tasks involved in information management.

Where Do Ideas Come From?

To function effectively, every organization relies on both internal and external information. Internal information includes personnel information, materials inventories, supply rosters, customer orders, production pipeline schedules, and a multitude of other forms of data.

External data can consist of customer information, delivery schedules, market analysis, weather data, historical selling trends, and a wealth of other information that could affect an organization’s success.

An organization’s definition of information management must start with understanding the relevance of data to the organization’s purpose. A manager who holds an MBA with a business analytics focus is likely to ask “What data do we need for the company’s vision?” The answer will drive the first part of the overall information management definition, which in turn will shape the organization’s strategy for success.

Where Has All the Data Gone?

Once an organization has defined its data inflow, the next phase is to determine where the organization will house the data. Will it reside in silos with restricted access? Who will control, maintain or otherwise track access? Will the company use distinct systems for documents, web content, digital assets and physical records?

Many organizations fail to consider the long-term implications of data management when they craft their information management definition. The structure of their organization isn’t scalable, or their model doesn’t allow for the explosive growth of incoming business. The accounting department doesn’t share data with HR or the warehouse, for instance, which can result in the same data being recorded in multiple locations.

A lack of integration between parts of the organization creates inefficiencies and inconsistencies within data sets. Business intelligence can be difficult or near impossible if the organization’s disparate data sources cannot readily create useful data models.

Filing for Later, or Not

It’s not enough to know where the data is coming from — or where and how it will be stored and accessed within the organization. The information management definition must also include a plan for how and when data will exit the organization. For example, a policy that no data — virtual or physical — gets thrown away is insufficient in and of itself. Such a policy lacks provisions for managing legacy access to the data. How will the organization read all its data in five, 10, 20, or a hundred years?

Many government and industry oversight agencies require organizations to comply with data retention policies. Your information management definition must take these policies into account, and your information management systems must abide by these policies. An organization can’t indefinitely add drive space, or cloud or warehouse storage for its records. That’s almost as untenable as storing everything on one computer in the corner of the warehouse. An organization should have a diversified plan for the ultimate use and storage of every bit of data.

Learn more about the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga online MBA with Business Analytics Concentration program.


Step Two: 10 Principles of Effective Information Management

Bloomberg: Developing a Modern Data Management Strategy

Information Age: Information Lifecycle Management — Key Considerations in 2016

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