Data administration (IM) concerns a cycle of authoritative movement: the procurement of data from one or more sources, the custodianship and the circulation of that data to the individuals who need it, and its definitive manner through filing or erasure.
This cycle of authoritative inclusion with data includes an assortment of partners: for instance the individuals who are in charge of guaranteeing the quality, openness and utility of gained data, the individuals who are in charge of its protected stockpiling and transfer, and the individuals who need it for basic leadership. Partners may have rights to begin, change, disperse or erase data as indicated by hierarchical data administration arrangements.
Data administration grasps all the bland ideas of administration, including: arranging, sorting out, organizing, preparing, controlling, assessment and reporting of data exercises, all of which is required keeping in mind the end goal to address the issues of those with hierarchical parts or capacities that rely on upon data.
Data administration is firmly identified with, and covers with, the administration of information, frameworks, innovation, forms and – where the accessibility of data is basic to hierarchical achievement – methodology. This expansive perspective of the domain of data administration appears differently in relation to the prior, more conventional perspective, that the life cycle of overseeing data is an operational matter that requires particular strategies, hierarchical capacities and guidelines that arrangement with data as an item or an administration.
Emergent ideas out of data management
In the 1970s the management of information largely concerned matters closer to what would now be called data management: punched cards, magnetic tapes and other record-keeping media, involving a life cycle of such formats requiring origination, distribution, backup, maintenance and disposal. At this time the huge potential of information technology began to be recognised: for example a single chip storing a whole book, or electronic mail moving messages instantly around the world, remarkable ideas at the time. With the proliferation of information technology and the extending reach of information systems in the 1980s and 1990s, information management took on a new form.
Progressive businesses such as British Petroleum transformed the vocabulary of what was then “IT management”, so that “systems analysts” became “business analysts”, “monopoly supply” became a mixture of “insourcing” and “outsourcing”, and the large IT function was transformed into “lean teams” that began to allow some agility in the processes that harness information for business benefit. The scope of senior management interest in information at British Petroleum extended from the creation of value through improved business processes, based upon the effective management of information, permitting the implementation of appropriate information systems (or “applications”) that were operated on IT infrastructure that was outsourced. In this way, information management was no longer a simple job that could be performed by anyone who had nothing else to do, it became highly strategic and a matter for senior management attention. An understanding of the technologies involved, an ability to manage information systems projects and business change well, and a willingness to align technology and business strategies all became necessary.
Positioning information management in the bigger picture
In the transitional period leading up to the strategic view of information management, Venkatraman (a strong advocate of this process of transition and transformation, proffered a simple arrangement of ideas that succinctly brought data management, information management and knowledge management together (see the figure)) argued that:
- Data that is maintained in IT infrastructure has to be interpreted in order to render information.
- The information in our information systems has to be understood in order to emerge as knowledge.
- Knowledge allows managers to take effective decisions.
- Effective decisions have to lead to appropriate actions.
- Appropriate actions are expected to deliver meaningful results.
This is often referred to as the DIKAR model: Data, Information, Knowledge, Action and Result, it gives a strong clue as to the layers involved in aligning technology and organisational strategies, and it can be seen as a pivotal moment in changing attitudes to information management. The recognition that information management is an investment that must deliver meaningful results is important to all modern organisations that depend on information and good decision making for their success.
Some theoretical background
Behavioural and organisational theories
Clearly, good information management is crucial to the smooth working of organisations, and although there is no commonly accepted theory of information management per se, behavioural and organisational theories help. Following the behavioural science theory of management, mainly developed at Carnegie Mellon University and prominently supported by March and Simon, most of what goes on in modern organizations is actually information handling and decision making. One crucial factor in information handling and decision making is an individuals’ ability to process information and to make decisions under limitations that might derive from the context: a person’s age, the situational complexity, or a lack of requisite quality in the information that is at hand – all of which is exacerbated by the rapid advance of technology and the new kinds of system that it enables, especially as the social web emerges as a phenomenon that business cannot ignore. And yet, well before there was any general recognition of the importance of information management in organisations, March and Simon argued that organizations have to be considered as cooperative systems, with a high level of information processing and a vast need for decision making at various levels. Instead of using the model of the “economic man”, as advocated in classical theory they proposed “administrative man” as an alternative, based on their argumentation about the cognitive limits of rationality. Additionally they proposed the notion of satisficing, which entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met – another idea that still has currency.
In addition to the organisational factors mentioned by March and Simon, there are other issues that stem from economic and environmental dynamics. There is the cost of collecting and evaluating the information needed to take a decision, including the time and effort required. The transaction cost associated with information processes can be high. In particular, established organizational rules and procedures can prevent the taking of the most appropriate decision, leading to sub-optimum outcomes. This is an issue that has been presented as a major problem with bureaucratic organizations that lose the economies of strategic change because of entrenched attitudes.
Operationalising Information Management
Managing requisite change
Organizations are often confronted with many information management challenges and issues at the operational level, especially when organisational change is engendered. The novelty of new systems architectures and a lack of experience with new styles of information management requires a level of organisational change management that is notoriously difficult to deliver. As a result of a general organisational reluctance to change, to enable new forms of information management, there might be (for example): a shortfall in the requisite resources, a failure to acknowledge new classes of information and the new procedures that use them, a lack of support from senior management leading to a loss of strategic vision, and even political manoeuvring that undermines the operation of the whole organisation. However, the implementation of new forms of information management should normally lead to operational benefits.
The early work of Galbraith
In early work, taking an information processing view of organisation design, Jay Galbraith has identified five tactical areas to increase information processing capacity and reduce the need for information processing.
Developing, implementing, and monitoring all aspects of the “environment” of an organization.
Creation of slack resources so as to decrease the load on the overall hierarchy of resources and to reduce information processing relating to overload.
Creation of self-contained tasks with defined boundaries and that can achieve proper closure, and with all the resources at hand required to perform the task.
Recognition of lateral relations that cut across functional units, so as to move decision power to the process instead of fragmenting it within the hierarchy.
Investment in vertical information systems that route information flows for a specific task (or set of tasks) in accordance to the applied business logic.
The matrix organisation
The lateral relations concept leads to an organizational form that is different from the simple hierarchy, the “matrix organization”. This brings together the vertical (hierarchical) view of an organisation and the horizontal (product or project) view of the work that it does visible to the outside world. The creation of a matrix organization is one management response to a persistent fluidity of external demand, avoiding multifarious and spurious responses to episodic demands that tend to be dealt with individually.