The value of information

Information puzzle pieces recordkeepingWhat does the ‘value of information’ mean to you? According to Wikipedia (we know, not the most authoritative source!) it is ‘the amount a decision maker would be willing to pay for information prior to making a decision’. Do you agree or is there more to it?

When this question was recently posed to participants at the recordkeeping training survey focus groups, lively discussion ensued. And yes, whilst the need to emphasise the dollar value and the risk associated with poor information management was raised, discussions focussed more around:

  • changing the language of, and culture around, recordkeeping
  • making information management seamless
  • embedding information management into standard business practice.

So what does this mean?

Participants saw the use of the word ‘recordkeeping’, and its associated terminology, as archaic, administration-focussed and paper-based and as promoting recordkeeping as a separate entity. They believed that through championing such terms as ‘information management’, ‘knowledge management’ and ‘information curation’, information would become anchored in the present and be business focussed.

By changing how the management of records/information is referenced, participants thought a shift could be affected in the culture of agencies away from recordkeeping as an ‘add-on’ activity and towards information management as being a vital link underpinning all business activities. Information management would become an asset as valuable as financial and physical assets and people.

Continued discussion around the language used for recordkeeping also identified the need for recordkeeping to be seamless, an activity that is undertaken by the majority without knowledge of specific recordkeeping mechanisms or systems. Participants stated that the current language and focus of recordkeeping revolves around the implementation of processes and systems and not around the value of the information contained within those emails, reports and interactions that must be captured. As a result, it was proposed that a seamless approach was needed where the value of managing information properly is seen by everyone without the need to think, or act, like a Records Manager.

Do you agree or does the value of information mean something different to you?

2 thoughts on “The value of information

  1. terms ‘value’ and ‘cost/expense’ carry diff connotations 4 me. wikapedia def focuses more on cost/expense rather than value. v interested in comments re changing language. look 4ward 2 cing further discussion in this area.

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  2. Thanks for your comment L. We also think value is more than how much something costs to buy or could be sold for. Putting too much emphasis on the monetary value of information might distract people from the other kinds of value it might have – evidentiary, accountability, historical, intrinsic and so on. Recordkeeping deals a lot in these less tangible kinds of value, which probably makes it harder to sell (pun intended…) its message to people who are thinking in terms of monetary value most of the time. Maybe a change in terminology would help? Information governance is being talked up a lot in the United States at the moment, and there’s an interesting debate going on about whether it’s the same thing as recordkeeping (or records management) or something new again. What do you think?

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