Digital Footprints Leading to Necessary Information Governance (and more fiber in our diets)

This week’s readings contained much about information.  I actually started to feel a bit of information overload just thinking about how one would have to govern the amount of information now created living in this technological age.  The column chart on page nine under “Call of Action” from “Systems of Engagement and the Future of Enterprise IT” really caused me to pause for several minutes as I thought about the years of change and how we have stored information.   The chart presented major changes from storage of information on microfilm to social content.  When I think about microfilm as the primary means of information storage some time ago and then compare that time to today and its use of social content as a way to store content and information, I imagine researchers pouring over microfilm in former days in comparison to future researchers years from now pouring over Facebook status updates, Tweets, and emails as a way of garnering information.  The amount of information digitally recorded these days is steadily growing.

This brings me to information governance, which is something I really hadn’t given much thought to until our readings this week.  How do we govern information?  Who has to govern it?  When I think about businesses and their needs to maintain content and information in this digital age, I can’t help wonder how many job positions have been created these days purely to take on this type of job?   I especially thought about these questions when I read from “Systems of Engagement” this idea in relation to businesses, “Meanwhile, over on the business-to-business side, the attraction is more about cutting the time it takes to reach closure on any key issue, be that a product design change, a customer complaint, a late shipment, a pricing dispute, or the like. Here again, even though the communications are often in real time, they are leaving their trail of digital footprints — emails, for sure, but also Tweets, recorded web conferences and other types of tools (or other types of content). What is the right policy for storing or deleting such records? What preparations must one make for the inevitable e-discovery requests that our litigious society will surely generate?” (Moore, 2011).

I thought it interesting that businesses now need to consider that while they often have live conversations to resolve issues, indeed there is usually some trail in the digital world.  I found it even more interesting that the final thought here revolves around the idea that without proper preparations, businesses can open themselves up to legal action and loss of money.  This is a key reason why businesses will likely get serious about information governance as noted in “Eating More Fiber and Getting to the WHY? of Information Governance” (, Oct. 17, 2013).

Businesses will need to find a way to properly govern the amount of information now coming in via many sources, both hard copy and digital.  If businesses must worry about reducing risks and costs but must also reduce the amount of information being saved, I am not sure how they can avoid possible legal action without making sure they save everything.  And how would they save everything if the system to save information went automated in an effort to reduce costs as “Eating More Fiber” suggests?  Without capturing the digital footprints accurately, a piece of the trail may be missing that could prevent the businesses from losing time and money.

Maybe the inaction to really take information governance seriously comes more from people just not knowing how in the world to manage the incredible amount of information we have available to us these days.  As noted by the author of “Eating More Fiber”, “… but I feel the real reason for inaction is that the WHY? of information governance is not fully understood – at a gut level – by executives.”  The gut that may require more fiber is also the gut that may not fully understand the impact of not properly governing the information available in this age.

On a side note, from both readings, I also was led to AIMM and its upcoming conference; just the title alone sounds interesting: Information is the New World Currency.    Businesses and organizations can also learn about information governance by taking a course available through AIMM.

Posted on October 27, 2013, in Social Media, Society, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Improper information governance and control can DEFINITELY cost a company. We had a situation like this happen last year. We had a disgruntled employee quit and go work for a competitor. Our company operates a retail pharmacy, but we get lumped together a lot of times with pharmaceutical companies. Well, with a pharmaceutical company, if an employee resigns or is fired (especially a sales rep), s/he is IMMEDIATELY cut off from all information, emails, files, etc. They are expected to turn in their laptops and all client files right away. This is to prevent them from stealing information to take to a competitor. In fact, if the employee was the one that decided to terminate the relationship and gives a two-week notice, the company tells them they’re done, right then and there. No two weeks.

    Well…we didn’t do that with this disgruntled employee. He put in his notice and management took five days to decide what to do with him. I am about 99.9% sure he made a copy of our entire client database before his login was deactivated; plus, when he turned in his paper files, they were strangely very thin (although he’d worked for the company for over six years). I’m not saying that cutting off his access to the company’s information sooner would have totally prevented him from stealing info, but it may have helped.

  2. evelynmartens13

    Good topic. It reminded me of the Microsoft antitrust suit a few years ago and how Bill Gates’ emails were, ironically, used against him. It seems like there’s always a digital footprint somewhere.

    I like that triad of reasons in “Eating Fiber”; increasing revenue, reducing costs, and reducing risks. I was astonished to see that 90% od the data in the world was created in the last 2 years. Were you surprised by that? That seems ominous…

  3. The questions you ask at the end of paragraph 2 are excellent and I think pointing you to Harvard Law’s Berkman Center of Internet and Society will start to show you people are trying to answer them on a global scale because, after all, no one country “owns” or “governs” the Internet. See but specifically their project on monitoring info:

  4. Hi, all,
    Thanks for sharing the examples from experience and past instances with companies. I am sorry for the delayed response.

    I was indeed surprised by the fact so much of the data was created in the last two years, and I can’t help but think of so many instances where information from the Internet has come up in cases, and then I have to wonder why some people do not stop to think that the digital footprint will be found and inevitably come into play.

    Governing the Internet is a huge task, and the cyber law and Harvard research is very interesting.

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