Time for an Information Management Strategy?

October 5, 2011
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I recently had the opportunity to visit four small businesses in a consulting capacity. Along with two other experts, I met some pretty dynamic little companies across the United States. These other experts provided consulting around different types of marketing, customer communications, and product positioning. When it was my turn to engage these small business’ owners, I talked about website design, technology, and data.

I recently had the opportunity to visit four small businesses in a consulting capacity. Along with two other experts, I met some pretty dynamic little companies across the United States. These other experts provided consulting around different types of marketing, customer communications, and product positioning. When it was my turn to engage these small business’ owners, I talked about website design, technology, and data.

No surprise here. That’s my bread and butter.

Here’s another non-surprise: Many small businesses owners–and, by extension, employees at small businesses–do not think in terms of information management. That is, things like managing customer data are typically very informal processes done in a mostly disorganized manner.

Of course, there are some pretty big problems with this. Perhaps the biggest is scale. As these small businesses and their client bases begin to grow, their current manual tools prove far less useful than they had been. For instance, while it may be easy to remember which of your 50 prospective customers responded to an offer in your monthly newsletter, it’s much harder to do the same with 500 or 5,000 prospects. Over the course of these consulting sessions, I suggested that these businesses strongly consider adopting–and utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) applications.

Parallels for Large Enterprises

Remember that small business owners are the antitheses of larger enterprises: the former don’t have nearly as many departments, resources, employees, and the like. As a result, they may be loathe to institutionalize CRM or another data-driven application or process because of the perceived IT resources required.

This is a misperception because, as Brenda Somich points out, hosted CRM is growing. The explosion of the cloud and legitimate alternatives to traditionally on-premise applications mean that small businesses can do a great deal more with fewer resources. They need not break the bank to run a true CRM application–and reap the rewards of doing so.

But there’s a larger point in this post. You may think that small businesses and many proper enterprises have little in common.

And you would often be wrong.

Lamentably, many big companies either intentionally ignore or never get around to developing a future state vision for information management. As for those that have a strategy in place, their daily actions often belie this vision.

Simon Says

As your organization grows, stop and ask yourself:

  • Are projects, applications, data, and information being managed in completely random ways?
  • Are individual actions are coordinated?
  • Is everyone on the same page? If not, why not?
  • And how can the different parts of the organization work in concert to maximize compliance, governance, efficiency, and performance?

In other words, ask yourself if it’s time to implement an information management strategy.

With respect to information management, the goal of any organization of any size is not to develop a strategy. Rather, it should be to realize the benefits of that strategy. Alternatively stated, a strategy in and of itself means nothing. Enforcement and diagnoses of that strategy are critical if that strategy is going to actually work.

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What say you?