Information management: 5 big questions answered

Information data eye
Is your eye on the data?

There are many reasons for the dramatic proliferation of data, and this, alongside changing consumer behaviour, is having a a profound effect on the role of the Chief Information Officer.

Canon recently held an 'Information at Work' event that looked at how data was impacting the workplace, so we caught up with the company's Director of Information Security, Quentyn Taylor, to find out what messages are coming out of the information segment at present.

Here are his responses to our five key questions.

TechRadar Pro: What is causing the massive influx of data within organisations and what impact is it having?

Quentyn Taylor: There are many reasons for the data explosion both within organisations and outside of them. The most obvious one is technology. As the capabilities of digital devices continue to rise and prices continue to fall, sensors, mobile phones and other gadgets are digitising lots of information that was previously unavailable. And many more people have access to far more powerful tools.

There are currently nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, nearly 3 billion people use the internet and 70 per cent of them use it every day.

BYOD, which adds layers of complexity, is also a contributing factor. Our Office Insights study of 1,671 employees revealed that one in three businesses are now enabling employees to connect to servers using their personal devices.

This means that there's an incredible scope of information being created and shared, from a rising number of devices - and subsequently, an increase in data that must be controlled and managed adequately. No mean feat, as according to analyst firm Gartner, worldwide data growth is set to reach eight zettabytes by 2015

Security is a key consideration. Business leaders have spoken openly around the pressing issue of data security and governance, two main components that at present are subject to close scrutiny, and which are expected to be a key focus for organisations in the future. It's vital that businesses start to see data as an enabler to the business and begin to effectively manage and safeguard the information they hold.

TRP: How can organisations turn this data into meaningful information?

QT: Turning data into useful information is a process that requires knowledge. This is commonly referred to as 'Business Intelligence' as it provides business insights to every part of the organisation. Generating value from data is a matter of connecting the information to insights in a fast, safe and repeatable way.

Start by deciding what the business goals are or what questions the business needs to answer. Continue by analysing small data sets and always start with the best data available, in order to draw a number of verifiable conclusions straight away. No matter how much data an organisation has, it is important to keep information easily manageable.

Remember that it can always be enriched later, with increasing layers. Finally, when applying analytics, it's important to try to make decisions regarding the data as quickly as possible, to avoid paralysis and getting mired in figures and facts.

At our 'Information at Work' event we delved deeper into the role of information management, and the changing role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) was a sentiment that was echoed throughout the day.

As part of their role, Chief Information Officers will need to act as a beacon of knowledge for everything information based, and work to push the business to embrace data as much as possible. They need to become the individual that takes the lead and innovates, finding new ways to control the modern data influx and identify how it can be used to competitive advantage.

They need to become visionaries; the ones that enable change as and when it is necessary, and think of the doors that IT departments can open if they think outside the box. The CIO will no longer be the head of technology, but the information innovator.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.