Monthly Archives: November 2011

Transition – Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

I looked at the relationship between the concepts of Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom in one of my previous posts. At the time however, I was looking from slightly different perspective. In this post I focus more on the factors that influence transition of the collected raw data into totally abstract entity as wisdom.

Concept Definition Factors contributing to transition Abstraction Level
Data Simplest representation of facts such as numbers, characters, graphics, images, sound and video. Initially in ‘raw’ format, needs to be further processed to gain meaning. Associated metadata is required to add context, describing business understanding, format, date/time, importance and others Low
Information Processed collection of data, with associated metadata describing the context. There might be various metadata dimensions allowing creating new information and its meaning based on different aggregations of facts. It is Data in a context. Identification of trends, patterns, relationships and assumption. Medium
Knowledge Awareness, understanding, familiarity, recognition of situational patterns and trends, based on synthesis of collected information that could be used achieve a business purpose. It is Information in a perspective. Acquiring of skills through experience or education. It includes perception, learning, communication, association and reasoning. Medium High
Wisdom Making the best use of knowledge, acting with appropriate judgement in complex and dynamic environments, that actually achieves business purpose. Directly related to maturity but not related to how long the organization is in business. It is applied knowledge. High


Graphically this could be presented in form of a pyramid, with increasing maturity and abstraction level.


As the abstraction level increases, the concepts become much more difficult to define and describe. For example Wisdom, in contrast to Data, becomes more philosophical idea. The higher the level of abstraction, the fewer organizations could be found utilizing the concept. This is not surprising, due to direct relationship with maturity levels. However, this is the critical factor that differentiates winners from the rest. Most of organizations focus their resources on achieving immediate tactical goals. This works well in short term, but as we can usually see, such organizations survive only in friendly business environment. As soon as the market trends change, such organizations are endangered by takeovers, or breakups. Only few, are able to make such transition, although I don’t think that there are any that fully achieved the Wisdom level. Information management does not contribute directly to products or services that the organizations sell, but like a nervous system in an organism, it is critical to utilization of the available resources to their full potential. The better distribution, sharing and collaboration, the better odds of winning with innovative products, and survival.

Information Management Context – Project Manager’s View

Implementation of information management projects is quite complex in ever changing business environments. The success or failure of such initiatives is often determined by ability of the project manager to see the big picture. Quite often such projects fail because the team concentrates on technology, neglecting other aspects of the environment. Technology is obviously important, but is merely part of the whole picture. Information management projects do not exist in isolation. There are many factors that need to be taken into account during planning, but also later closely monitored during the execution. The project manager needs to be alert to any changes in the environment and be ready to adopt. Rushing ahead with a project that do not addresses business need anymore, is going to lead to disaster.

What are the key elements of the environment that need to be addressed? The answer depends on the organization itself, but usually it could be grouped into following classes:

  • Business goals, principles and trade specific practices

Direction of the business, where it is going to be in 3 to 5 years, has direct impact on definition of business needs. The information management projects need to anticipate the change that is going to occur, and make sure that delivered business systems will support these needs, and there will be flexibility to adopt these systems easily when new requirements appear. For example, when implementing taxonomy, the project manager needs to make sure that it is scalable, so the organization will not have to spend fortune to redesign the system.  Buying trade specific classification from a third party, might save time, but each organization is different so this will require customization. Ability to satisfy business needs will also impact current and future end user satisfaction.

  • Organizational structure, roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders

Since every organization is different, it is not possible to use a single cookie-cutter approach. Identification of key players early in the project, and keeping them engaged during delivery is critical to success of the project. Making sure that stakeholders understand their accountabilities and responsibilities not only while the project is active, but also in the future when the delivered systems are operational, will help with establishing proper governance and change management.

  • Technology

Technology quite often introduces constraints to the project due to existing legacy systems, or decisions that were made already to standardize on specific products. However the project manager needs to anticipate change in the future in other systems generating data or consuming information. It is important that the project works closely with enterprise architects and monitor closely any other projects that are on the roadmap already. Quite often such projects introduce unexpected surprises, heavily impacting the project success. Even upgrades to existing systems might introduce need for change.

  • Corporate structure

Corporate structure changes quite frequently. Although information management systems should be independent from such structure by building taxonomy based primarily on business processes, often the corporate divisions have some independence in selection of tools and implementation of systems. Information management projects have often enterprise-wide effect, so making sure that all the involved groups are brought to the table, is extremely important. This is going to save lot of time and money in the future, when organization will try to leverage ability to mine information and knowledge.

  • Information Management practices

Depending on maturity of the organization, there might or might not be processes and practices in place already. The project manager must be aware of them before and during implementation. Also, delivery of new system has a rippling effect on overall ability to grow in such maturity, impacting governance and change management.


In summary, project managers implementing information management projects need to be acutely aware of the complexities of the whole environment, not only focusing narrowly on deliverables. Ultimately success of the project is not only measured by being on time, within budget and scope, but primarily by acceptance and usage after the project is delivered.

Is SharePoint records management capability sufficient?

TAB recently published results of a survey related to adoption of SharePoint.

What is not surprising, the adoption is constantly increasing. Of 730 organizations surveyed, 64% used SharePoint to some degree, from that however only 35% for records management. 55% of those who didn’t use SharePoint for RM, were considering using it in the future.

Of all of the organizations using SharePoint, 87% used it for file sharing, and 80% for document management. Only 26% however used it for integration of the metadata. I think one of the reasons might be that most of these installations were still done on SharePoint 2007, without improvements to metadata management that were introduced in 2010 version.

The surprising part however is that 55% of respondents were using, or considering using add-ons for records management rather than native features in SharePoint (Records Center or in-place records management in SharePoint 2010). Does it mean that users do not trust or find the out- of-the- box functionality insufficient? It would be interesting to find answer to this question.