Information governance for intranets

Conference speaker Jed CowthorneWhether you still talk about your enterprise intranets in a stand alone context, or if you consider them to be an element of your broader digital workplace, they are still a potentially very important part of the information infrastructure that allows you to do business.

Jed Cawthorne, speaker at the J. Boye Philadelphia 15 conference and director for business technology strategy and knowledge management at global BMO Financial Group, is a seasoned information management expert. Jed has studied the importance of the intranet’s position in the overall information architecture of many organisations throughout his career.

In this blog, he discusses the value of intranets and explains what to do when your organisation moves up the latter from information management to information governance:

Intranet: integral part of information management

It has been a well used maxim for a long time now, that information is the lifeblood of an organization. Whether that is information on your customers, their buying habits and behaviours or if it is information on the design and manufacturing process for your latest widget, or the intellectual property of “ideas” that led to the design of that widget, we live in an information age.

If we can all agree that this is true and the flow of information within organizations is as important as the between them, then why does it seem that we often put so little thought into the management of those information resources, the rules on who owns it, who can access it, and how it should flow?

Information management is a discipline which definitely includes our intranets, and hopefully we understand the nuances of information publishing, web content management, information lifecycle management etc  Depending on your organization and what you publish and share on your intranet, and how interactive it is, you may also need to be thinking about records management, long term digital preservation and archiving and regulatory compliance.

If we start to bring all of these threads together, we can agree that we have stepped up to a higher, more strategic level of thinking about the stewardship of our information assets.

From information management to governance

As the subject gets to this higher, more complicated and abstract level, we have moved from concepts of information management (IM) to information governance (IG). We can of course turn to Wikipedia for a simple definition of Information Governance:

“Information governance, or IG, is the set of multi-disciplinary structures, policies, procedures, processes and controls implemented to manage information at an enterprise level, supporting an organization’s immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk, environmental and operational requirements.”

The important part of this definition for me, is that it is not solely focused on legal or compliance issues, but also on the operational. This is important because even if you’re a small to medium size business in a non-regulated industry, taking a sound approach to IG can bring benefits.

The Wikipedia article goes on to suggest IG encompasses the following domains:

  • Records Management
  • electronic discovery (e-Discovery)
  • Metadata management
  • Privacy
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance

How does it apply to your intranet?

As a system for distributing, sharing and working on information across your enterprise, you may need to take all of these requirements into account.

When you post information on products, policy or procedure on your intranet, is the intranet page or the linked document repository considered “the book of record”? Or is the information always managed in, copied to, or archived in some other system? If its the former rather than later, then you need to be considering the IG aspects of the information lifecycle. Does the page, posting, or document constitute a record? Does it have attached metadata that is specifically included and tuned for e-Discovery?

If you don’t have expertise on the intranet team to deal with these areas, do you have the relationships with the other teams and specialists who do? We can all agree that it is a long time since the enterprise intranet was a place to simply publish the canteen menu, the staff directory and a “bring and buy” list, and then pretty much forget about it.

The enterprise intranet is an immensely important decision support tool, a gateway to many tools, systems and information that help us get our jobs done. As such it’s we started taking Information Governance for our intranets seriously.

Talk information governance and intranets with Jed

If you’re interested in hearing more about Jed’s take on information management and governance and the role of intranets in the overall information architecture, you have the opportunity at the J. Boye Philadelphia 2015 conference this May.

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