Technology Adoption vs. Information Management

One of the things I’ve realized over the years, popular technology adoption does not equate to business productivity. It may actually be the reverse; when a technology becomes all the rage and takes on fad-like status, it rapidly gets out of control resulting in all manner of side effects.

SharePoint is one such example. Being touted as the application backlog silver bullet: “End-Users can build their own collaboration applications themselves leaving I.T to work infrastructure an enterprise applications. I think I heard this story before with MS Access and Excel. Now CIOs and Business Executives are left with thousands of unmanaged applications with critical corporate information distributed on workstations and laptops across the enterprise.

This is not a critique of MSOffice or SharePoint far from it, it’s more of a condemnation of how adoption is managed or rather mismanaged in organizations.  Despite all the talk of governance and adoption maturity levels most of these are applied to the installation of the technology not its productive use.   I watch as technologist, I.T consultants, and sales representatives promote technology virtues with all sorts of hyperbole in amazement knowing that an organization is lucky to get one fifth of those benefits.  Not because the technology can’t deliver, but rather the organization can’t incorporate usage best practices as well as installation best practices. 

A simple proof point how many MS Access and Excel spreadsheets are used in your organization to manage core work?  How many are managed as a critical asset?  How much of the information is duplicated in some form or version of the truth?  And now you’re going to enable end users to do the same in SharePoint by creating their own sites?  

This is not a call to ban end-user site generation, more so a suggestion that education and training on information management for information workers (i.e., most of us now) is becoming a critical need more so than simple computer literacy.  Either we learn how to manage our information better or we’ll drown in a information glut of our own making.  Consider joining organizations such as AIIM and DAMA are providing some thought leadership in this area.

Satory Global LLC
Twitter: @bseitz

About briankseitz
I live in PacNW in a small town and work for Microsoft as a Enterprise strategy and architecture SME. I enjoy solving big complex problems, cooking and eating, woodworking and reading. I typically read between 4-8 business and technology books a month.

8 Responses to Technology Adoption vs. Information Management

  1. Phil Jones says:

    Good observations Brian. I agree with you. With SharePoint in particular, it’s easy to see how technology offering more options can create even more confusion if there is no guiding intentionality. If they are implemented based on the ideals rather than direct and focused business need (and governance… and training…) the tools will never hit the mark.

  2. Pingback: Technology and the missing role for Information Management | NeoEpistemic

  3. Julie Colgan says:

    I enjoyed this post immensely, but likely because it is a reflection of my own feelings. Having been in the information management world for many years, the place we find ourselves in doesn’t really surprise me. The misinterpretation of technology being a panacea for proactive and thoughtful management of information, and IT folks being mistook (or misrepresented) as information managers are two of the primary reasons.

    I’m happy to see the tide turn and a focus now on governance of information to not only meet compliance obligations but to also, and to me more importantly, help our organizations better meet their mission (be that curing cancer or just making boat-loads of money).

    In your list of organizations at the end, I’d also add ARMA International, and in particular a look at GARP(r), the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles ( Don’t let the name fool you – it is far more about enabling organizations to harness the power of information through appropriate governance than it is about sending boxes of paper documents to an offsite storage facility. [Full disclosure, I am on the Board of Directors for ARMA, however my comments here are made strictly by me as an information management professional and may or may not reflect the views of any organization with which I am affiliated. Disclosure complete. :)].

    Thanks again for a great post!

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