Becoming Information Conscious

Introduction

In the past 10-15 years, the way we do business has been revolutionised by easy access to information, enabling us to work and collaborate much more flexibly. As long as I can get internet access, I have access to everything I need to run my business. What amazing freedom! Remember the days when you had to go to the office to get work done, to raise an invoice, to look at the proposal your colleague’s just drafted?

Computing has become commoditised, and the line between a computer and a mobile device has become blurred. More than that, we expect to be able to access everything we need instantly and on any device. It’s always been the case that we and our businesses exist within a sea of information, from our dealings with customers, suppliers and associates, to knowledge about others in our industry and even competitors. Technology now allows us to manage our data and interactions, connect with our customers and give our staff the freedom to excel in ways previous generations could only dream of. This is about people and relationships. Improving information flow improves communication, and so makes our businesses better and more useful.

But we need to be information conscious, aware of the information we use and how it is flowing.

An information-conscious business will:

  • have highly motivated staff who can use their skills fully and work in a way that suits them
  • have happier customers who get excellent service as you deliver what they expect
  • scale your business because better information leads to better processes
  • understand what is going on in your business because you have the tools to tell you.

This is the sea of information that your business exists in:

The inner field is your business. The middle one contains people and organisations that your business interacts with directly, and the outer one represents the wider community who may or may not be aware of your business.

In this series of posts we’ll look at how information about your organisation flows through all of these areas, and how you can make those flows work to your advantage. A series of exercises helps you methodically analyse your business, and you’ll find some case studies that illustrate the pros and cons.  By analysing what information your business contains, you’ll go from a general feeling that you need better systems to specific plans for what kinds of systems will solve what problems and how to go about putting them in place.

This series of articles will cover these key points:

  • It’s natural for a business to develop information islands as it grows and finds solutions to day-to-day problems.
  • Information islands hinder your productivity and your ability to service your customers.
  • Information-conscious businesses are aware of where their islands are and work to remove and connect them.

Look out for the second post in the series next week.