Defining and managing information quality

by | Apr 5, 2016 | Big Data, Digital workplace, General, Information Management, Search

For the last three years I have been supporting major projects that involve content migration and enterprise search. A primary objective of both migration and search is ‘to improve information quality’ but in the projects I have been involved with little attention has been paid to defining the parameters or information quality and putting in place policies and processes to improve quality. The reason for not doing so is that the staff resources required are significant, and because there is no corporate commitment by the organisation to information quality it is all but impossible to gain the support required to at least start the journey towards information quality improvement. It is indeed a journey; there are no quick fixes.

In general organisations seem unaware of the significant amount of work that has been undertaken in to defining information quality standards and guidelines, dating back to pioneering work at MIT in the early 1990s that recognized information had to be fit for purpose and not just ‘accurate’. A very good resource on the development of information quality management is a book entitled The Philosophy of Information Quality, published by Springer in 2014. This book is a collection of contributions on all aspects of data and information quality edited by Luciano Floridi and Phyllis Illari. The quality of the contributions is very high but for some unaccountable reason there is no index to the book. Springer clearly does not have a commitment to information quality!  A similar book on Data and Information Quality is about to be published by Springer, and it will be interesting to see if an index is provided. There is an earlier book on Managing Information Quality from Springer which was published in 2006.

MIT remains at the heart of information quality management. It organises an annual conference, which in 2016 takes place in Spain from 22-23 June. The papers from previous conferences can be downloaded from the conference archive. The International Association for Information and Data Quality (IAIDQ) also organises an annual conference. It should be noted that in the context of work on information quality there is no differentiation between data and information though there are initiatives, notably around ISO 8000 – 2011 where the emphasis is on master data management. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) publishes the Journal of Data and Information Quality but access is limited to ACM members. A good overview of the challenges of managing information as an enterprise asset (pdf download) is provided by Nina Evans and James Price, based in Australia.

The purpose of this post is to summarise some of the resources that are available in the area of information quality management. As I have mentioned above there are no quick fixes but information professionals should certainly ensure that they are aware of the substantial amount of work that has been published and is currently being undertaken.

Martin White