Information Management and/or ‘Big Data’ – progress at last?

by | Aug 16, 2011 | Information Management, Intranets

I have spent just over four decades in the information business, and as people who know me are very aware I will take every possible opportunity to promote the importance of effective information management. Despite the pioneering work of Don Marchand organisations still fail to understand the impact of not being able to find information that they have accumulated at considerable cost. The economic impact of this failure was demonstrated well in a brilliant piece of work by CapGemini back in 2008, entitled the Information Opportunity Report. Over the last couple of years there have been an increasing number of studies on the problems around managing information but not much action inside organisations.

There is now increasing interest in Big Data, which is focusing perhaps too much on the ‘data’ word than the ‘information’ word but at least companies are now starting to realise the problems they face managing data/information with database tools that were developed over a decade ago.  Even Google’s BigTable technology dates back to 2005. Among the companies pushing the Big Data concept are the business intelligence community, and again CapGemini sets the scene well with the report on Search-Based BI

This year has seen the arrival of conferences on Big Data issues, and these are very much to be welcomed and to attend. Among these have been the Strata events from O’Reilly in February and now September this year, and the Economist conference on Information – Making Sense of the Deluge that took place in June.  The next Economist event is in June 2012.  When companies like the Economist Group start saying that information management (and I really don’t mind what title is used) is important then companies do start to take notice.

Inside most companies the people who have the best understanding of information management challenges and opportunities are intranet managers, and the potential for these managers to shape the way that their company approached the issues of information management and Big Data management is vast.  Perhaps in the near future we will see intranet managers at Big Data events, and intranet conferences offering sessions about Big Data technologies, but I’m not holding my breath.  I would certainly encourage you to track what is going on in the Big Data arena, and a recent post by Dion Hinchcliffe  and a blog on O’Reilly Radar are good places to start, as is a new 156pp report from McKinsey entitled Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition and Productivity.

I have over 100 reports on various aspects of information management in my e-library – perhaps it is time to add a Big Data folder.  If nothing else Big Data seems so much more interesting than Information Management, and even if I am concerned that Big Data and Information Management are not synonyms for now I’ll go with the flow.

Martin White