In the whirlwind of today’s information environment, the term “digital transformation” (DX) gets a lot of play – and with good reason. Smart organizations have come to realize that managing their information assets requires transformative measures to ensure they’re leveraged, protected and compliant with laws and regulations throughout their lifecycle.
Bespoke research conducted by Frost & Sullivan for Iron Mountain defines DX as “the changes associated with the application of digital technology in business operations. Effective digital transformation promises to enable innovation and creativity, affecting both internal business processes and relationships with suppliers, partners and customers.”
The above definition views DX as more than the mere management of information; it leans decisively into the strategic realm, implying measures that affect business matters internally and externally alike. Accordingly, central to the success of DX is the strategic approach of information governance (IG), which ARMA International defines as “the overarching and coordinating strategy for all organizational information. It establishes the authorities, supports, processes, capabilities, structures and infrastructure to enable information to be a useful asset and a reduced liability to an organization, based on that organization’s specific business requirements and risk tolerance.”
Information Lifecycle Management
DX, grounded in IG, will focus on all information – physical and digital – throughout the information lifecycle.
Iron Mountain considers effective information lifecycle management (ILM) to be that which “spans the organization and touches all business processes”; it is “foundational to any successful digital transformation effort.”
In short, a mature ILM organization ensures that all information is:
Captured at the moment of creation and properly classified
Authentic and accurate throughout its lifecycle
Easily accessible to those who need it internally and externally (such as auditors, agencies, legal firms, business partners)
Protected from hostile entities inside and outside the organization
Managed in compliance with all laws and regulations
Retained securely throughout its lifecycle
Properly disposed of or archived at the end of its lifecycle
(ARMA provides an information lifecycle infographic that’s available for free download.)
The Frost & Sullivan / Iron Mountain research showed a clear relationship between ILM and DX. Importantly, 80% of organizations that the research project deemed to be “highly mature” at ILM were early adopters of DX. Further, these highly mature ILM organizations were more advanced in the DX journey, with about one-third of them driving better business outcomes through such measures as data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). And these organizations were much more prepared to overcome such challenges as meeting regulatory requirements, securing information, automating and streamlining business processes and achieving “speed to market.”
Aligning DX and ILM
The alliance of DX and ILM relies upon a successful IG implementation, replete with the right tools and partners.
How can organizations assure they are properly governing their information throughout its lifecycle? ARMA provides a tool that helps bridge the gaps across the stakeholders in an organization’s IG program. The Information Governance Implementation Model (IGIM) offers a functional approach to IG, indicating seven areas that are necessary for the effective implementation of an IG program: steering committee, authorities, supports, processes, capabilities, structures and infrastructure. The model can serve as a roadmap towards implementing IG, plus as a model to improve IG functions, and, with the pending release of the Information Governance Maturity Index Report – 2020, a benchmark upon which to gauge your IG program.
The Right Partners for Success
The right partners are integral as well. IG is a strategic approach that requires the “partnering” of key stakeholders and executives from across the enterprise – such as records management, IT, compliance, risk and legal – to ensure consistency of processes and proper alignment with the business objectives. Indeed, internal expertise and collaboration in the areas of ILM and IG is critical.
Unfortunately, organizations sometimes overlook the need for external partners, such as Iron Mountain, who specialize in systems and technology solutions that can help enable an optimal DX throughout the information lifecycle. Strict reliance on internal expertise often results in a limited perspective that may lead to solutions that are costly and impractical. Good business partners can pinpoint an organization’s unique needs and offer a full range of cost-efficient solutions in such areas as on-premises hardware and software, off-site storage, cloud services, archiving and much more. The best business partners will drive the sort of ILM that controls costs, optimizes alignment and integration across the enterprise, protects data throughout its lifecycle, meets all compliance requirements, and assures the availability of the information so that it can be leveraged as needed – when needed.