The Speed At Which Value is Created
At a recent event I attended in Florida for AIIM.org, futurist, author and educator Thornton May, who was facilitating the event, asked a very important question: How do we create value with information?
Over the course of the event, I wrote down several ideas around this question, and have been giving it some thought over the past week as I participated in a couple regional events and spent time in the home office in DC. Having spent more than 20 years in the field of information technology, I have a few different perspectives on this question, having approached it from different roles throughout my career: end user (consumption of data), analyst (organization of data), project and program management (expansion and administration of data), operations (performance and measurement of data), and product (products and services built on data).
Thornton shared many great points on the speed at which organizations adopt and plan around new technologies, which can vary depending on their industry (which can determine the level of risk mitigation applied to all data), the customer served (different approaches for external users or customers versus internal users or employees), and regions served (depending on audience, infrastructure costs, for example, may be lower in developing countries).
I think most people understand the limitations our organizations have with how fast we can adopt and move forward with new technology, and to a lessor extent, we understand the rules and guidelines for the use of information/data within our governance frameworks. But there is another, more fundamental layer to value creation – and it has more to do with our cultural biases (by which I mean corporate culture, which may be influenced by geographic/regional cultural nuances) and our individual work habits. As Thorton stated, “It’s not just about the technology, but fitting the technology to the way people choose to work, and to live their lives.”
One of the thoughts which came to me while sitting and listening to the AIIM discussion was that most innovation breakthroughs are much like redirecting a rogue river. The easy thing to do is to let the river take its natural course, which seasonally floods the valley below. People recognize that it is both inefficient and expensive to manage, and yet will fight against the time and expense of a new reservoir and river path. Generally, these battles to redirect the flow of a river are hard fought, and yet once the hard work is done and the new river path flowing, people will recognize the benefits and wonder how they ever let the problem persist for so long.
The speed at which value is created from the information available to us is largely determined by the blocking factors we devise for ourselves. In many organizations, people hide behind processes and job descriptions because it is far easier than the hard work it takes to innovate, to create a better system.