In looking through the data from our information governance survey, I sometimes find results that don’t necessarily match the reality of what goes on in practice. That is not necessarily surprising given the challenges of info governance, but it’s certainly interesting. One such data point from this survey is the fact that an overwhelming number of respondents – 83% – believe that the primary focus of information governance is the management of both unstructured content (e.g. Word processing documents) and structured data (e.g. databases). Seems like a “duh” finding, right?
While it is somewhat simplistic to say that information equals content plus data and therefore information governance includes the management of both, the practice of data governance and content management continue to be very divergent. I very rarely talk to organizations that include structured data systems within eDiscovery action plans. From my worldview, the structured data world is more focused on data warehousing, master data management, business intelligence (BI), and some very targeted compliance issues. That’s why it feels anachronistic that we recognize that information governance encompasses both structured data and unstructured content, but don’t really have any synergy between data governance and content governance.
Markets like eDiscovery, though, can help to be a bridge between the data and content worlds. Certainly, for some regulatory investigations it is necessary to conduct discovery across both structured and unstructured systems. As that occurs more often, the divide between the two worlds will get smaller. And, there is another area where the two worlds collide – analytics. Companies have come to rely on BI systems to make faster, better business decisions. Meanwhile, the content analytics market is heating up. And, it’s finding traction in the eDiscovery market where there is a need to quickly review mounds of unstructured documents. I believe that content analytics will soon be an important component of BI – again, bringing the structured and unstructured worlds closer together.
The good news is that the recognition of the need to include both structured data and unstructured content in information governance strategies exists. There is still some movement up the maturity curve needed in practice, though. eDiscovery can be one of the lightning rods for this maturity growth. Safe to say, we are still in the early days. This is an issue that Barclay Blair and I will cover more in-depth in our free webinar on September 15, 2011 at 1pm ET / 10am PT. Hope you can join us.