How to quickly apply the power of Infonomics within your organisation.
In our last post, we talked about the key principles of Infonomics and why it matters to every single organisation.
And whilst it’s now well accepted that Infonomics offers significant strategic value, it’s equally clear that many are still struggling with its practical application; particularly, where to start.
What’s needed is a simple approach that will quickly deliver valuable insights, convert any remaining sceptics into fans and build confidence and momentum into the initiative.
“We have a better accounting of the toilets throughout this building than our information assets. And for the ‘business’ we’re in, that’s a really, really sad state of affairs.”
Head of Information Strategy for a major government institution *
So let’s look at how you can use a software solution like LINQ to quickly tackle some of those ‘getting started’ challenges.
Are you managing, measuring and monetising your information?
Infonomics is ultimately about getting better processes in place to manage, measure and monetise your information.
In fact, it’s helpful to consider these to be the three pillars of Infonomics; pillars which we build on to leverage the principles of Infonomics for competitive advantage.
Put simply, the better we are at the 3M’s of managing, measuring and monetising our information, the more valuable those assets will be to our organisation. And what becomes obvious very quickly, is that the 3M’s are inextricably linked – with each feeding into - and benefiting from - the others.
For example, the better I get at measuring my information, the easier it will be to manage. And as my information management matures, the easier I’ll find it to monetise. And this is how our virtuous circle starts to quickly gather momentum - and why returns exponentially increase as it does.
With information assets think human capital.
Now, before we go any further, let me say that what you’re trying to achieve with your information assets isn’t going to be as precise as managing your tangible assets (like a plant & machinery). That’s because with fixed assets you can call on well-defined accounting and asset management standards.
But with information, there’s nothing as robust to help guide and inform on your efforts. And in that regard, it’s going to feel more like how you manage, measure and monetise your human capital than your fixed assets.
But that’s more than OK because all of the work around information as an asset is maturing at pace – just like we’ve seen with people as an asset over the last few decades. And more importantly, because there are huge differences in capability, those that do it well will be building a competitive advantage – just as companies like Amazon and Netflix have already proven.
And with that small but important point made, we’re now ready to take a look at the 3M’s - one at a time.
Information management with LINQ.
Imagine how hard it would be to manage your human capital if you didn’t know the key attributes of your people, the role they perform, the processes and business outcomes they support – even where they fit in your organisation.
Hard to imagine isn’t it?
The trouble is, when it comes to information management, far too many organisations don’t need much of an imagination – they’re actually living that nightmare every day!
Of course, many individuals don’t necessarily consider it a nightmare because they don’t know any better and can’t see the full picture. But that doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist; it’s just hidden within silos - and only becomes obvious when someone bothers to join the dots.
The starting point for good information management then is to get your information assets in plain sight.
But that doesn’t mean creating a dumb register – it means defining how, when, where and why your information assets are used.
And whereas traditional process mapping tools fail to answer these vital questions, LINQ does it as a matter of course by putting information at the heart of your modelling.
In fact, LINQ works on the premise that a process is incomplete unless information is captured and those questions are answered.
When you model your business and its processes with LINQ, your information becomes highly visible and much better understood. And once you can see how your information gets created, stored and used, you’re already in much better shape to proactively manage it.
For any information asset of interest, LINQ will quickly help you answer the following key questions:
How is the asset created – and what people, systems and processes enable that creation?
How, where and why is the asset used?
When is the asset used – and how often?
What activity and business outcomes does the asset support?
Which system stores and supplies the asset?
And with such visibility now in place, you’re in a much better position to tackle the question of information measurement. Let’s take a look.
Information measurement with LINQ.
With your information assets now in plain sight, you’ll want to start getting some data on your data.
First off, you’ll no doubt want to get a good handle on your costs and LINQ will facilitate that beautifully.
Now in the case of information, we’re usually talking about creating the asset, although other ways - like buying data - are becoming more common. Irrespective, LINQ can capture that cost in a really simple way.
All you have to do is know how long it takes to perform the respective action, how often it’s performed and the standard cost of the person, team or system performing the action. That’s basic information that every organisation should have close to hand - and if they don’t, they really should!
In the example above, we can see how LINQ automatically associates the cost of the activity with the resulting information assets created as a result of performing that action. So even if information asset capture wasn’t the primary driver for you modelling a process in the first place, you get that as a by-product just from using LINQ.
It’s a great example of what I was saying earlier – about needing to make Infonomics more accessible and provide practical ways to get started.
So just from some simple data capture, you’ll now know the following information:
The time and cost incurred creating the asset.
The resources (people or systems) used to create the asset.
How often the asset is created.
How often the asset is used.
And if that’s not enough, LINQ automatically rolls-up the numberspture so you can understand the cost for your entire process - and its constituent sub-processes/workflows.
And for the eagle-eyed amongst you, you no doubt spotted another set of numbers. Those represent asset value!
Now defining the value of information assets is a subject in its own right so I’m going to cover that off in a separate post. Suffice to say, LINQ is the solution for value-capture as well!
How do I monetise my information?
With better visibility and measurement of your data, you’re going to be in a much better position to monetise it.
But to be clear, monetise doesn’t necessarily mean selling or trading your precious data – it means increasing its value to the organisation.
And for ‘value’ you need to think profit – so something that can either improve your top-line (revenue) or bottom-line (costs) – or ideally, both.
First off, however, you want to look at the costs you captured earlier and ask yourself whether you’re happy with those numbers. The point here is that if it’s costing you too much (or too little) to create your information asset, you should tackle that first.
And remember, creating information isn’t like buying a new tangible asset that might only happen once every blue moon. With information, the ‘creation’ process can be happening all the time.
Let’s say it’s something like creating a monthly asset inspection schedule. Here, there could be a lot of potential to make its monthly creation faster and cheaper – if, for example, we can automate parts of the creation process. That’s a cost-saving you’ll definitely want to grab.
Also, it’s quite possible that you’ll find examples of activity where you’re just not spending enough – resulting in the information creation being too slow or error-prone, incomplete or difficult to ‘consume’. In that situation, it may be perfectly viable to decide to spend more - not less - on creating/acquiring the asset.
Next, with that low-hanging fruit picked, you should start looking at the value of the information asset. Sticking with the inspection schedule example, perhaps it contains data that is used elsewhere but that data has to be manually re-entered in another system – or even worst, created from scratch. But what if we could remove that duplication? That would immediately increase the utility and value of the asset.
And what if in creating the inspection schedule, you could capture some additional data without any more effort? That would again increase the asset’s value – assuming of course that supplementary data was useful somewhere in the organisation.
The beauty of information – it’s non-rivalrous.
This simple example helps to explain why information asset reuse is such a hot topic – especially since most information can be used in multiple places - and all at the same time. Compare that to machines or people which have very clear capacity limits – and therefore limited value.
The economic term by the way is 'non-rivalrous' which effectively means you don’t have to pick and choose where you use your information - you’re completely free to use it many times over and generate exponential value from it. The only constraint is your vision and dedication to make it happen!
Here’s the type of questions you should be asking to stimulate the conversation and identify opportunities to monetise your information:
How can we…
Make the creation process more efficient or effective?
Lower the cost of the creation process - or potentially spend more?
Capture supplementary data alongside, or as a by-product, of the creation process.
Asset Utility & Usefulness
How can we…
Lower the cost and effort required to access and use the asset?
Make the asset easier or quicker to access?
Make the asset more widely available?
Achieve greater reuse of the asset?
Use the asset to help achieve a business objective or deliver an outcome; for example:
- Reduce costs?
- Improve productivity?
- Reduce risks?
- Improve customer satisfaction?
- Develop a new line of business or revenue stream?
LINQ to the fore.
By allowing you to visualise, capture and measure your information, LINQ drives the ‘what if’ conversation around how best to monetise those assets.
With LINQ, you can quickly model potential changes to your business and processes and find new and valuable use cases for your information.
That’s exactly how transformational organisations have gone about creating entirely new business units and revenue streams out of their information. But they weren’t able to do that until they knew what they had and how to measure it.
"In the same way that traditional asset management is easier with good software, Infonomics needs a solution like LINQ to make it practical and bring it to life.”
It’s no longer acceptable to think of information as a by-product of doing something within your organisation; it needs to be thought of as a key output that you can use as business fuel to generate value.
Because for most businesses, the majority of their value comes from intangible assets – like information, data, and knowledge. And that means most of their value is pretty much invisible.
And therein lies the problem – organisations have fantastic processes in place to manage their physical assets and most are doing a decent job managing their human capital, but ask them about their data and you’re going to get a lot of blank looks.
That’s where Infonomics comes in because it helps you build similar structures and disciplines around your intangible assets to those you already rely on for your physical assets.
* Quote from book by Douglas B. Laney, 'Infonomics'.