Data Data Everywhere…

Remember the famous line by the sailor in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner? “Water water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink”. I often hear this about data from business people. There is so much data being collected by IT and the information management (IM) systems and yet no one seems to have a clue of exactly what data they have or what to do with it. And when they do search for a specific data element, the difficulty becomes one of find. They search, but do not easily find what they are looking for, leaving the impression that all of this data collection seems to be useless. Could it be that data is being collected because it can be, rather than for specific reasons, purpose, and target audiences?

Over the years we have been fed terms like “Big Data” and “Big Content” – mostly information overloadby the marketing departments of suppliers looking to differentiate themselves and get you to buy their products and services. Is there a need to collect this much data? In many cases, the benefit should outweigh the costs and justify it all but if it is data collection for the sake being able to, why bother. Without purpose, the data will sit dormant and untouched costing your business to maintain it and continue to expand the storage and maintenance for future data that also will not be used.

In My View

There are good reasons to collect data, and like anything in business, it should be addressed strategically before tossing in the technology by asking some simple questions upfront. What data do you need in your business? What purpose does it serve, not just for a singular department but potential use across departments? For example, data collected from the help desk when analyzed, may reveal the customer is trying to do something the product set they have purchased is not designed to handle, training is needed, or perhaps professional services to help them achieve their goals. This is a sales opportunity based on technical support data; data that often goes underutilized by many businesses.

Additionally, your information governance (IG) program should standardize the way data is managed and be flexible enough to enhance the metadata and increase findability by other departments where this data can be reused. The premise b=ing one of intelligent information management (IIM) as outlined by AIIM in that we must become better at how information/data is gathered, managed, and made accessible. Don’t be reactive and collect data because you can, be proactive and design your infrastructure to collect data that is useful and can be shared across departments. Plan.

Bob Larrivee is President and Founder of Bob Larrivee Consultancy, a recognized expert in the application of advanced technologies and process improvement, and Journalist on Information Technology for Document Strategy. In his career, Bob has led many projects and authored hundreds of eBooks, Industry Reports, Blogs, Articles, and Infographics. In addition, he has served as host and guest Subject Matter Expert on a wide variety of Webinars, Podcasts, Virtual Events, and lectured at in-person seminars and conferences around the globe.

Bob can be reached at and his website is

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