In case you haven’t noticed, Information Governance can be difficult to navigate.
Those of us in this line of business are trailblazers simply because we are on the cutting edge of enterprise technology. If working in Silicon Valley has taught me one thing, it is that there are infinite ways to get from Point A to Point B. We’re conditioned to believe that options are always a good thing; however, when it comes to IG, taking a wrong turn can lead your organization right back to the starting line. So, Robert Frost, you have come to a fork in the road. Will you take the road less travelled? Or will you take the path worn down by those before you? Don’t forget about the lightly travelled path, the staircase to your left, the ladder to your right, the boat down by the river, or the one of the other countless options at your disposal.
Confused? Me too.
When addressing Information Governance, those tasked with finding the correct path are overloaded with options. At first, ECM’s were the worn path. But it is remarkable how quickly language changed from “our ECM is our governance solution” to “our ECM needs a governance solution.” Too many businesses found that this path simply looped back to the trailhead, leaving them in the same fork they had been in before. Only the second time around, they found themselves shouldering the heavy rucksack of an ECM deployment requiring long-term management and maintenance.
Where can one go from here? This much is certain: no two information governance projects are the same, and no two trail maps are alike. Fortune 500 companies have much different problems than their small business counterparts. Global companies have different issues than domestic ones, just as the private sector differs from the public. And IBM Notes users will find themselves lost if they follow the Microsoft Exchange guidebook. God help you if you have a combination of the two: you might as well be navigating a metric topo map based on miles traveled.
The fact that no two initiatives are alike leads us to confront a scary reality; that there is no “silver bullet” to accomplish the seemingly endless task if information governance. This means that the worn path can sometimes lead to a cliff, as the ECM path seemingly has.
In fact, there may not be a finish line for your organization. THAT is a scary thought. Now, you are forced to walk the forked path of governance with the purpose of avoiding the cliff. One would think this assumption means that the cliff is inevitable and your only relief is to pack a parachute. But this is also a somewhat of a fallacy.
Others have been in hopeless situations before. How did Frodo find Mt. Doom? How did Luke Skywalker escape the grasp of the Empire? How did the Jews free themselves from slavery in Egypt? Respectively, the answers are Smeagle, Han Solo, and Moses; all of them were guides. When you are wandering through the information governance forest, courageously leading your organization around obstacles, regulations, crevices, and corporate policies, do not do so blindly. Find a guide who was born in the labyrinthine woods and whose sole purpose is to survive it. I am not talking about a consultancy who will bill you thousands of hours just to point you in whichever direction best suits them. Nor am I talking about a vendor who will lob you a one-size-fits-all governance platform and expect it to solve your problems.
A guide has both the expertise and the tools to not only enable your survival, but to help you thrive. Data is not supposed to be feared. It is supposed to give the enterprise a collective cognizance for better decisions and greater awareness. The right guide can build cities out of your endless forest of data, and increase your independent ability to navigate the wilderness. There are remarkably few companies that currently specialize in the core governance line of work. Many of the top vendors in the information governance space are behemoth multifunctional conglomerates whose main focus lies outside the realm of data management, and they accordingly have trouble controlling their own internal systems. To survive, you must be wary. The true right partner will have the knowledge and technology to consistently deliver solutions and services that will enable your enterprise to achieve your own unique style of information governance.
So when two roads diverge in a digital wood, first find your guide. It will make all the difference.