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A Simplified Look at Business Value vs Business Risk


AIIM is the Association of Intelligent Information Management, and their primary mission is to help organizations improve performance by transforming the way information is managed. AIIM provides independent research, training, and certification to more than 155,000 members.

The team at NetDocuments has sponsored and underwritten AIIM’s annual research report for the past two years. Recently, as a follow up to the 2022 industry watch report, NetDocuments and AIIM produced a joint webinar addressing the topic of business risk versus business value in the context of information management.

In the webinar, I was joined by Peggy Winton, President and CEO of AIIM. We focused on evaluating the value derived from information in comparison to the business risk inherent to it being poorly managed, or not managed at all. There is great value in information, but only if it is relevant and being used in a productive manner to benefit your business. For example, with information commonly referred to as ROT (Redundant, Outdated, Trivial) there is a low value and high risk associated. Without understanding exactly what information is comprised of or the intended business purpose, it could present legal and regulatory threats, as well as consume unnecessary space.

For many years, AIIM took a highly theoretical approach – espousing the marvelous benefits of good information management to a business’s bottom line at the very highest strategic levels. This approach certainly generated good conversations in the businesses where I was attempting to apply it as an AIIM member. For example, AIIM put a lot of effort into explaining the benefits of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) strategy. My last job in the UK was as a program manager for an ECM initiative that was seen as digital transformation, even though the popular term was not yet coined. Upon moving to Canada, I was employed as an internal ECM strategy consultant at a very large bank – so the theory was certainly being applied by some organizations.

Beyond the benefits of ECM, a theme that would be constantly recurring when looking for budget to fund information management initiatives would be that of compliance, along with the role of managing information in order to meet compliance goals. That could include the specific regulatory compliance applied to a regulated industry such as banking, or it could be compliance with privacy laws, internal records management policy, or some other national, industry, or sector specific rules and regulations.  Without good information management practices, policies, and systems, organizations are vulnerable to risk, and this should not be used as a fear tactic by ECM providers to slack on delivering good solutions based off pricing.

Using the big changes to all kinds of industries provoked by the global pandemic, along with the 2021 annual research report, Peggy focused on whether information management efforts were seen by the business as adding value, and if information management strategies were fully aligned with business strategies.

In the industry report, research respondents gave their organizations sadly low scores, averaging out at a C minus. The 2022 research followed the same path. Those surveyed responded again that the information management industry as a whole was lacking in its drive to meet business goals. So, Peggy took us all to task at the 2022 AIIM conference in Denver, focusing her keynote on moving away from selling through fear by addressing risk and compliance, and pushing the advantages we could bring to the business by helping business units to generate revenue and margin.

My personal response to this was the infographic you can find linked here. While not all industries are heavily regulated and selling the advantages of good information based on compliance is not always a great concept, all businesses have to deal with business risk. It is my contention that actually doing a good job of managing information reduces business risk as a minimal advantage, and when focused on the right problems can add considerable potential to generate revenue.

I developed the simple matrix you can find in the infographic as a starting point for discussing business risk, versus business value in the context of information management. It is not a complex or overly sophisticated tool, but hopefully it will be useful to readers as a starting point for internal conversations with appropriate stakeholders. During the recent webinar with AIIM, we polled attendees and the majority found the simple matrix very beneficial, as I hope you will as well.

NetDocuments customers have taken steps to implement information and document management with our secure cloud platform. Business risk is managed by ensuring documents are not scattered or unmanaged across file shares, desktops, inboxes, and other disparate source systems and repositories.

NetDocuments provides additional features and functionality through our solution that both enhance the management of information and enable your business processes so that you can be efficient and productive, adding business value and generating revenue, while also reducing risk.

Watch the webinar now, on-demand, for a walk through of the tool.

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Want to see more? Explore these other resources from our partnership with AIIM:

About the Author: Jed Cawthorne is a Principal Product Manager at NetDocuments. He is actively involved in product innovation and management and works closely with customers to ensure quality service, products, and an above and beyond user experience. Jed has been a member of the AIIM community for over 20 years. He is a long-standing Certified Information Professional (CIP) and this year, he had the distinct honor of being inducted into the AIIM Company of Fellows. AIIM defines the Fellows as a group of members who have made contributions through new fields of education, applications, publications, or volunteerism which have materially benefitted the growth of the intelligent information management (IIM) industry.

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