Debra Logan at the Nuix Information Governance Forum – why Information Governance fails and how to make it succeed

This is a continuation of a series of posts about the Nuix Information Governance Forum, held in June at Palm Beach in Florida.

Debra Logan of Gartner was the keynote speaker. Her speech was all meat, and the only acceptable way of reporting it is to pick what appear to be to me to be her top 10 points. These were, in no particular order, as follows:

We have gone beyond the ability of most companies even to know what they have got. Storage is not cheap and is only the beginning of the expense. We have to compute these costs, the obvious ones and the less obvious ones, before we can begin to apply for budget for new projects.

We want more information and we want it now, but we cannot make decisions with it. How do you get attention when the detail of information governance is yet more information and when no one can explain information governance to decision-makers in a way which matters to them? We need an impasse-breaker.

An exercise by the Institute of Neural Decision-Making presented participants with a range of pension plan options whilst they were having an MRI scan. The conclusion was that people freeze, and that emotion takes over because of the overload of that part of the brain which makes decisions. [You can test this for yourself at a simple level, without an MRI scan, by  trying to make a fully-informed decision about, say, mobile phone contracts, washing machines, computers or cameras – how many of us quickly ditch all the comparative information and either purchase by instinct or decide to do without?]

No major corporation can deny the need for corporate governance as the regulators’ fangs grow daily. You cannot have corporate governance without information governance – how can you know what the position is if you cannot find the data or even know if you possess the data? [The LIBOR scandal presently engulfing UK banks gives us a model example: a CEO is caught either way – either he did know what was going on or his information governance was not good enough to tell him what was going on.]

The CIO’s job is managing the infrastructure – the “lights which blink”. It is not his job to manage the data as information. We are at the birth of a new profession, with hybrid players who have multiple strands of skills and experience. You need people with domain expertise, not just about apps and servers but data and information. The usual approach is to take people who already have jobs and give them something else to do on top or instead. You need to find people who understand the subject and teach them to attach metadata to their material, to understand document retention, perhaps even send them to law school to turn them into a legal/IT/subject matter expert hybrid.

There are no business objectives in mitigation. We need less data, process improvement, value creation and benefits realisation. At a simple level we need to be able to answer the question “Do we have this e-mail?”, but we need to get beyond that relatively simple objective, through the forest of redundant, outdated and trivial data. Just moving it all to the cloud does not address questions like what have we got, how much, who owns it, what legal holds is it subject to? “If they are talking about you on YouTube, you want to know”. You need only one big failure and you will find the money. [But better to avoid the failure entirely].

How do you determine the value of old stuff? At the very least it is costing you money whilst adding no value to the business, and not just because it is all potentially discoverable.

Make people “data stewards” of the stuff which matters to them as part of their job, something they get measured by. At best it prevents wasteful use of resources and leads to the uncovering of business value; at the least, it makes people’s lives more interesting – they can get on with what they are good at without having to hunt for the raw materials of information.

Those who propose change and investment for change should never lead with the technology discussion.

We have to do something – and that something is the best we can manage, not some unattainable level of perfection.

There was a lot more besides. It was an inspiring start.


About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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