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Encouraging good Information Management behaviours


Is there potential to influence information management users through the effective application of recharge models?

Prolific blogger Chuck Hollis has a very interesting and thought provoking post on the subject. He suggests that rather than just thinking about recharging as a way to pay for the cost of IT or IM, we should be thinking in terms of using pricing models that influence and encourage users and the business to behave "nicely".

He suggests that there are three types of recharge models that he comes across when talking to organisations.

  • Let the business choose what they want and send them the bill
  • Service catalogue model with established price lists for various classes of services based on the cost of service provision
  • Service catalogues and associated pricing that is more oriented to changing business behaviour.

The second model is good but extending this further to the third model is a very nice idea and can be potentially applied to the world of information management just as well as traditional IT. The business are encouraged perhaps to use standard applications and data stores through lower recharges than for non-standard systems, or charged high rates when data set versions go over a certain threshold.

For me it is a interesting concept and having just recently helped put together a presentation on how to get information users to behave nicely it is very timely! It also highlights to me the importance of a business (recharge) model and the service catalogue when building an effective information management organisation!  They are the elements that will give you the second model above and allow an effective discussion with the business on services and associated costs, but also open up the potential to use this understanding to influence behaviour.

We do need to be careful that we don’t turn the relationship with the business even more confrontational than it often already is. To manage this, as Chuck points out, will mean having people capable of holding such business oriented discussions with the relevant business managers.

So can we influence information management users through the effective application of recharge models? Let me know what you think.


Information Quality Trainwrecks.com 

I have a focus on data quality at the moment and during some Internet research to support the business case for Data Quality Management (DQM), more on which coming soon, I came across this interesting blog IQTrainwrecks.com which in its own words;

"will provide a forum where Information Quality issues that make it into the media world wide can be logged, collated and discussed by members of the IAIDQ and the general public."

There are some very nice/horrible (depending on the way you look at it) examples of the business, and all too often the human, impact of Information Quality IQ issues. Always there is a significant cost for fixing the issue, which increases significantly the longer the issue is not addressed and an associated impact on the resources that need to reassigned. The second issue is the reason why data quality is such a killer for productivity.

The Oil and Gas upstream industry suffers from all the same effects in exactly the same way as all other industries, and it is clear that the majority of the industry is suffering from a significant IQ tax on productivity. How I plan to discuss in my next post.


Oil & Gas Industry Collaboration Survey 2009

The article in E&P magazine describing the benefits of creating a Facebook for the Oil and Gas Industry that I discussed in my previous post actually was prompted by the Oil & Gas Industry Collaboration Survey 2009 which was conducted by Microsoft and Accenture - available here. This is an interesting survey from a collaboration and more general IM point of view.

The survey had responses from more than 270 oil and gas industry professionals of all backgrounds and experience from all over the world working in both upstream and downstream. The survey asked some pretty specific questions about the use and potential of collaboration tools, including tools such as instant messaging, wikis and blogs. The survey came out with some interesting facts. Here are the quoted key findings;

  • Forty percent of oil and gas professionals view new social media tools as useful to boost collaboration and productivity at work, but only one in four report using these newer tools to capture and share information internally.
  • The majority view collaboration and knowledge-sharing as important for critical initiatives, such as capital projects, well management and the health and safety of workers. Conversely, most respondents stated that their organizations are still using older means of collaboration, such as face-to-face meetings, e-mails and phone calls.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents reported spending over one hour a day searching for information and knowledge sources relevant to the jobs.
  • Industry professionals are concerned about the need to capture knowledge from experienced workers before they retire or leave the company.
  • Only one-third of the respondents believe that their companies are fully prepared to exploit the enhanced sharing and capturing of the company’s intellectual capital.

From a general information management point of view point three that states over 60% of respondents spend over an hour a day looking for information sources relevant to their job, is interesting. The survey equates this to a loss to the industry of $485 Million a not insignificant sum. If you then think about stated statistics from Chevron that a "significant amount of time (30-70%) is spent looking for and assessing the quality of the data found " then between them there is a serious business case for IM, collaboration technologies and data quality!

What do you think?


Social Networking for the Oil and Gas Industry

I came across this article in E&P magazine describing the benefits of creating a Facebook for the Oil and Gas Industry. The article actually starts off talking about fairly standard information portals using the example of a portal developed at ConocoPhillips. The article talks about the importance and need for preserving and giving access to institutional knowledge and cites the well recognised industry problem of an aging workforce as one of the main drivers for having such a portal.

There is a description of the portal that gives role based access to varied information such as current production and various key performance indicators etc. and is similar to what is provided by many portal products. The ConocoPhillips portal supports the need to work in virtual teams with team members based in different locations and this where the social aspect begins to become important, with the use of discussion boards cited as an example of where company wide collaboration helped solved a major operational issue.

The article then moves on to look at the next generation of information portals which are defined as being more dynamic and fluid with social media tools like blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, and social networking integrating in with the traditional functionality to enhance business productivity.

"The portal of tomorrow also acts as a hub for a user’s daily work activities. A petroleum engineer, for example, may start his or her day by opening a personal site on the portal. This page is similar in look and feel to a Facebook profile, allowing the engineer to post relevant information such as personal details, documents, contacts and knowledge areas. The user can also subscribe to news feeds containing events and alerts associated with entities they manage such as wells, fields or equipment."

The article finishes by going through a scenario of an engineer reacting to an alert in her newsfeed and the implication is that this is the reality of the ConocoPhillips portal today, though this is not clear.

I like the idea of the personal information portal and I do think that it is one place in the work environment where we need to tie all the information feeds together, and acts as an aid to collaboration. Not so sure about the knowledge capture aspect that is cited as a major business driver.

Any thoughts?


Information challenge 3 - Information complexity and shadow applications

In this series of posts we are looking at the challenges facing any organisation who wants to effectively manage their information. I am using the Oil industry as an example but I am sure that most of these challenges will exist in any organisation.

Information challenge 3 - Information complexity and shadow applications

Even in not particularly technology driven companies organic growth and industry consolidation can result in information system environments that encompass a number of merged technologies, processes and attached culture which will quite probably be spread across many diverse locations. You can easily imagine how quickly the data flows and the supporting systems can become very complex and a challenge to manage.

Systems complexity

For technical companies with work flows driven by a large range of different technical information this underlying complexity can be increased significantly. A typical oil company for instance will often be making use of hundreds of different technical applications in addition to the standard business systems and desktop productivity applications.

Data complexity

Most of these systems are all potentially driven, certainly within the oil industry and I am sure others, by many different data types and needs, often requiring additional different views of the same or similar data. Providing support for and managing all this is challenge enough. Often however these applications are geographically dispersed, do not talk to one another and can in many cases may have multiple roles, acting as sources of data as well as being users of data for instance. Add to this similar roles being played by different applications for the same data type and the result is significantly increased complexity!

Shadow Applications

If you are a knowledge worker and a user of these complex systems, you often will to have to integrate results and consolidate data from different applications and data stores. Often the spreadsheet is the chosen method to do this. Additionally results from both technical applications and spreadsheets are often presented to management in a presentation format usually PowerPoint. But the problem with this even if your information is well managed is structured and unstructured data repositories, some of the key business decisions are being made in shadow applications like error-prone spreadsheets, where it is often difficult to manage or validate data quality, duplication and version control. If not addressed this can lead to a significant gap in the management of a company's information and the retention and knowledge of key business decisions.

To begin to address these issues requires that an Information Manager takes the time to gain an overview of the systems they have in place. Of course spare time is not something that most managers have, so finding the time away from operational issues will be an issue in itself!

Read the other posts in this series.

The Challenges of Information Management
Information challenge 1 - A Data Explosion
Information challenge 2 - Data Quality