There is no clear definition of the term “Information Management” primarily because there are different interpretations of the term management and the term information. The term “Information” in general refers to data that is of relevance and is knowledge-based which can be utilized for some purpose. “Management” refers to managerial functions like planning, organizing, implementing, staffing, controlling and leading an organization.
Information Management can be defined as the area of business that helps to provide the relevant data or information to the users to meet the organizational needs. Information Management not only entails the function of providing information to the end users, but it, in fact, involves the entire cycle of acquiring the information after validation from one or more sources, the custodianship, the distribution of the information to the right parties and the archiving or deletion of the information once it turns redundant.
Every stage of the cycle of information in an organization involves various stakeholders who are responsible for the accuracy, quality, accessibility and utility of the information. There are others who utilize the information for decision-making purposes and those who are responsible for archiving or deleting the information as per its relevance to the organization.
Evolution of Information Management
Information Management has seen a lot of changes since its inception. Information Management was considered to be the right choice of data and methods to solve technical and technological tasks by ensuring engineering efficiency. The term Information Management was first used by R.S. Taylor and his colleagues in 1966 an engineering conference. During the 1970s and 80s, the term Information Management was frequently used for works on informatics. It projected a managerial approach to the proper handling of information resources and its implementation. As per Michael J Earl (Earl, 1989, p.24), “Information management comprises planning, organization and control of information resources. Effective information management requires planning methods, control procedures and organizational arrangements to be congruent with each other. In the main, they also must fit the management practices of the firm at large.”
According to Earl, every organization can use information effectively only by proper and meticulous planning, organization and control. All of these key factors are managerial functions which help in dealing with information. This concept helped to emphasize the integration of information processes with managerial approaches for effective utilization.
With the unparalleled growth of information technology and information systems in the late 80s and 90s Information management not only grew in its relevance but took on a new form with new terms and broader roles emerging in the information technology sector. The importance of management became more prominent for the use of IS/IT with growing attention being paid to the effectiveness of information processing or “doing the right things.” William J. Martin defines Information Management as: “Management of information resources of an organization in pursuit of its aims and objectives. As such it requires the application of standard management processes of planning and control, while seeking to ensure the day-to-day flows of information for decision-making and the concurrence of information and business strategies within the organization” (Martin, p. 171).
The senior management in progressive Businesses like British petroleum showed increased interest in information management with the aim of creating higher value through improved business processes based on the effective management of information that allowed the implementation of the apt information systems that were applied on the IT infrastructure. This substantially enhanced the importance of Information management which no longer remained simple but became a strategic job requiring highly skilled managerial ability and understanding.
Information systems have seeped into every facet of our lives which has been accompanied by the need for a technology that is better than the last. The information systems saw a rapid growth and change and the need for further development to stand up to the high competition in every sector. Information management now requires the accurate use of all the available modern information technology and systems to cope with the information need of an organization’s managerial activities. There is a growing stress on the dual need of effectiveness or “doing the right things” in coalition with efficiency or “doing the thing right” setting up newer and higher standards of productivity. According to the Department of System Analysis of the Prague Economic University, “Information management represents the transdisciplinary intersection of three principal components. They are: management, informatics and system approaches (system analysis and synthesis).” The significance of a single component cannot be considered only from the point of its individual contribution but as a synergetic quality of a unified information management as determined by the goal-oriented integration.
With its growing importance, Information Management became a field of study opening the possibilities of a more systematic approach to the subject and its applications in various business aspects.
Competency models have been suggested that Integrate Information technology and business strategy with Information Management:
Venkataraman suggested a simple arrangement of ideas that brought together the management of data, information and knowledge which when interpreted and converted leads to meaningful results. It is also referred to as the DIKAR model which states Data, Information, Knowledge, Actions and Results.
- Data maintained in the information technology has to be interpreted in order to get information
- The information from the Information systems has to be understood to convert them to knowledge
- Knowledge helps in managerial functions to take effective decisions
- Well informed decisions lead to appropriate actions
- Appropriate actions deliver meaningful results.
The DIKAR model very clearly emphasizes how important information management is in the proper functioning and productivity of an organization.
Related: Methods of Data Processing
The Portfolio Model
Andy Bytheway in his book, “Investing in Information”, has suggested organizing external source of information in order to make it useful. He has suggested the Portfolio Model which shows how information can be gathered and sorted into four stages:
Stage1. Taking advantage of Public information like GPS, postcodes, times tables and weathers forecasts.
Stage2. Tagging the noise on the World Wide Web which contains a vast amount of information that is outside the organization. Tagging can help in harvesting and organizing this vast amount of information
Stage3. Sifting and analyzing the huge amount of data that is available in order to get more relevant information.
Stage4. Structuring and archiving the large volume of data available from different sources and exploring new ways to archive and trawl data for meaningful information.
Competencies for information management
Information technology and information systems are an integral part of Information Management. IT/IS is undeniably one of the most dynamic fields which have seen a rampant growth and development in the past few decades and continues to grow still at a tremendous rate. For a successful and effective utilization of the modern IT/IS, an organization should be open for frequent change and updates in their methods of information management so that they can keep up with the new classes of information. Implementation of new forms of information management should definitely lead to beneficial results for the organization.
According to Information Management Body of Knowledge (IMBOK), there are 6 knowledge areas and 4 processes areas which comprise the competencies required to manage information well in an organization.
The knowledge areas include: Information technology, information systems, business processes and business information, business benefit and business strategy. The Information Management process areas include: projects, business change, Business operations and performance management.
A keen interest has to be had on all of these factors in order to ascertain a constant growth and sustenance of the business. Information is available from numerous sources, but its proper extraction and utilization need a systematic and strategic approach which will ensure a beneficial outcome.