What is Information Governance?

Business Intelligence

What is Information Governance?

by Lauren Cahn

As part of our continuing education program for our employees, Exela offers enterprise-wide biweekly seminars on topics of current interest that pertain to our business. Lately, the focus has been on all things related to how we can help businesses tap into the inherent (and often, untapped) value of their enterprise data. Most recently, the focus was on “Information Governance,” which is crucial to any business’s plan to manage their enterprise information. This particular seminar featured a roundtable discussion featuring four of Exela’s leaders in information governance:

  • Saleem Ahmed, Vice President Business Strategy (SME)
  • Peter Caporal, Vice President Portfolio Management
  • Matt Crumrine, Vice President Business Development
  • Michael Marinelli, Client Engagement Director

The discussion, facilitated by Salar Salahshoor, our Director of Product Marketing, was fascinating, and employees have been talking about it ever since. Because the discussion touched on proprietary information and strategy, we can’t share the video or transcript. But because information governance is such an important topic—and seemingly so misunderstood—we felt it would be a disservice not to share what we can. We hope you find it as illuminating as we did:

What is information governance?

The term “information governance” refers to an enterprise’s overarching policy for handling all information in any form that is received from any source or generated by the enterprise, with the end game being the optimization of that information (i.e. maximizing value while mitigating risk associated with the information).

But hasn’t information governance always been part of the business landscape?

Information governance begins with the age-old truism that information is the lifeblood of any business. That’s as true today as it ever was. However, in the past, copying important documents for members of one’s working group and maintaining paper files in cardboard boxes for the length of time required by applicable laws, rules, and regulations could pass as an adequate form of “information governance.” Thanks to the digital revolution, information is now generated and received in mind-boggling volume, at mind-boggling speed, and in disparate forms. Not all information rises to the level of “Big Data,” but the volume and velocity at which information is generated and received in the current landscape, as well as the speed at which business is now conducted, demands a disciplined enterprise-level approach to managing the value, utility, risks, and requirements posed by the data deluge.

What’s at stake?

An estimated 30% of enterprises would be forced to shut down within weeks of a catastrophic event that destroyed their paper records (e.g., fire, flood, earthquake), according to Exela’s Vice President of Global Strategy (SME), Saleem Ahmed. But the loss of any single document creates an estimated 25 hours of additional work in recreating the information contained therein, and even in the most mundane day-to-day operations, a typical employee spends as many as 400 hours per year to search for documents. Again, this isn’t exactly news to most C-Suite executives. In fact, more than half of all enterprises have identified “information governance” as the largest anticipated area of enterprise spending going forward, according Exela's Vice President of Strategy & Business Development, Matt Crumrine.

Seems simple enough; what’s the part that’s misunderstood?

As the digital world invents and reinvents itself on an ongoing basis, new buzzwords emerge, and old buzzwords develop new meanings. Information governance has emerged as a buzzword alongside “information management,” which is used somewhat interchangeably with “enterprise information management” (EIM), Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and Master Data Management” (MDM).

Both information governance and information management are concerned with the entire life cycle of information. However, “information governance” is a concept distinct from “information management.” We’ll be discussing information management in upcoming blogs. For now, our Enterprise Content Management Solutions, our Master Data Management Solutions, and our Big Data Analytics Solutions can provide a preview of what information management can do for your business.

The difference between “information governance” and “information management”

Whereas information governance addresses an enterprise’s overarching policies and strategies with regard to information, information management addresses how those policies and strategies are carried out within the enterprise. If information is the lifeblood of your business, then information management is your business’s circulatory system, while information governance is your business’s backbone. If you need help getting started on designing and implementing an information governance plan for your enterprise, Exela can help. Schedule a consultation today.