Top Secret seal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Top Secret seal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When we talk about Business Information Management we usually think about Business Intelligence. BI tools are software tools oriented to recover business data, to simplify them, and to provide useful information for decision making through a reduced list of indicators usually shown in graphics.

The information used in a business is much huger than a set of figures of sales, incomes, expenses expressed as KPI’s. All managers have much information written in documents that cannot be simplified easily to a number. Business information management requires a way to process, store, preserve and finally eliminate the documents of the business.

Document management is a concept widely used in both engineering and quality management activities. In an engineering project or a quality system, documents are referenced, versioned and the changes are processed and stored in additional documents. The use of IT technologies simplifies this process. Documents are processed electronically, stored in a database, and changes can be processed automatically and visualized from the database when needed.

This process can be seen as simple, but there is a lot of information in every business out of the standardized processes. The introduction of the personal computers in the business activity has produced that a lot of information managed by the employees reside on their desks. Computer Networks were the next advance to solve the problem of sharing information, and backup servers provided the required activity of storing it.

There is a clear difference between the information of the standardized processes and the information stored in a backup. This information is not indexed, versioned and it cannot be so easily accessed and recovered.

Modern concept of cloud storage provides a more proper solution to the concept of information management with accessibility from different places and devices, automatic back-up and recovering, and so on. Cloud storage is not the panacea of business information management because although information is stored and disposable, it cannot be easily processed.

As I said before, business information management should be a concept more related to BI and decision making than document management. The introduction of search engines can be a reasonable way to recover information in a filtered way. This approach to recover information is very different to the classic scheme of indexing and versioning.

As you can see there are many techniques that can be applied to manage business information, and as any important activity of management there must be considered from two perspectives. Any activity of a business has a strategic part and an operational one. Business Information should be managed in these two ways.

When the senior directorate of a company begins to think about business information management, it would be proper to define a strategy that must be aligned with the business strategy. This part can be done with the same scheme that we use to define the business strategy. There must be a mission for the activity and a vision. From these ones we will be able to define strategic objectives, and to prepare a strategic agenda to reach them. Then we will need to select a tactic: an organized set of activities to reach the aims. These activities will be supported by tools of business intelligence, document management, and so on, and they will be implemented on technologies as cloud computing, local servers, wide and local networks and so on.

This process of implementing the strategy is very linked to other activities of the company, and not only to the IT activities. IT Department activities would be more linked to the implementation of the operational part of the process, but other areas can be linked to strategic part of the process. For instance, it is necessary and more important to define things as which kind of information as research related should be confidential, how human resource management must select who can access the confidential information. How information must flow through the company, which kind of information should be flowing through the hierarchical chain of managers, which kind of information should be sent to the staff through internal communication and which kind of information should be for external communication, and if we are working with partners, which kind of information can be shared with them.

As a project of this characteristic is very technology intensive and it is very linked to most horizontal activities and the strategic ones, and it has a strong effect on the complexity of the productive activity of the company it would be very reasonable that the project is driven by the innovation managers.