Information Governance: The path from now to 2020


Information Governance: The path from now to 2020 Ethical BoardroomBy Gordon E.J. Hoke – Independent Consultant, Information Governance Professional and a Certified Records Manager


The future of Information Governance (IG) is bright because it fills a critical corporate need – to extract maximum value from available information. IG is both an art and a science. We know the science will improve by 2020 and the art will grow as corporate leaders’ recognise IG’s contribution to the bottom line.

The science applies the game-changing benefits of Big Data, risk management, system interoperability and computer-assisted everything. Gains in the art of IG are less predictable than processor speeds or chip capacity – these depend on human traits, such as the recognition of shared goals, compatible policies, cooperative polity, interdependence, common vocabulary and commitment to collaborate.

Today, many enterprises endure information duplication, dysfunction, redundancy and overloads. Some have maverick departments that work for their own preservation, avoiding collaboration. Companies will not be able to afford these maladies in 2020.

Information Governance will increase values (and profits) in each of the next five years. IG’s quest for lean, efficient, effective and collaborative organisations will spur the progress and technical obstacles will shrink. The bigger hurdles for IG are human – language barriers, conflicting priorities, competing personalities, power structures and more. Changing these human factors requires special, focused efforts.  IG coordinates these efforts and integrates the technical and the human – the science and the art.  Seeking profits, a rising tide of corporations will apply IG’s principles.

Information Governance is the integrative effectiveness varied stakeholders create when they cooperatively process information and share resources for the good of their organisation.

As such, corporations benefit when the information stakeholders coordinate their efforts, share their resources and devote themselves to enhancing the bottom line. IG finds and harvests synergies that lower costs and improve productivity, customer satisfaction and competitive standing.


“By 2020 more leaders will recognise their firms cannot succeed with isolated technology, departmental fiefdoms and duplicated efforts”


Leadership may create a forum where stakeholders develop a common language, harmonise policies, pool resources, divide responsibilities and find synergies. This is the collaborative medium that directs the efforts and creates functional programmes that apply the new IG policies.

Common language refers to the communication difficulties among various information stakeholders. All too often, different areas that extract value from information – IT, legal, records, finance, marketing, security and more – do not understand the intent, priorities, pressures, logical orientation and values of the others. Each group has specialised vocabulary, jargon and technical terms the others do not comprehend. Also, different disciplines attract different personality types. No wonder it is so hard for them to work together!

The effective Information Governance Professional (IGP) lowers these obstacles. Between now and 2020, the IGP will become not just a technologist with an eye toward the bottom line, but also a behaviourist, translator, psychologist, sociologist, consensus-builder and motivator.

In the next five years, the importance and standing of the IGP will rise. Earlier this year, MasterCard became the first corporation known to have a Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO). Others have since followed suit. Whether the role is formally called a CIGO or not, the worldwide trend, enhancing the role of IG in corporations, will grow.

In five years, the format for IG in corporations will standardise with variants. There will be the executive sponsor, a high-level policy and budgeting forum, a functional group representing each stakeholder department and operatives in the field.  Despite the consistency of this structure, however, the actual components will vary greatly by organisation. In Corporation A, the constituents in IG may be IT, legal, and records; in Corporation B, the constituents may be IT, finance, and marketing.  Any combination is feasible and the programme subsequently may welcome new members and eliminate others. 

The IGP’s role will identify the most beneficial combination of constituents. This requires understanding of corporate structure and corporate culture. The IGP functions as an ambassador, mediator, negotiator and diplomat. The IGP must be conversant in IT, legalese, business-speak, and more. Sometimes the department that stands to benefit the most from IG is the least willing to participate. The executive champion may intervene there, but the benefits of IG will come from the willing and able.

By 2020, the Information Governance Professional will be an integral part of corporations’ mergers, acquisitions and divestitures teams. This is because a business’ IG maturity has a major impact on a company’s value. For example, today, the records manager is among the last to be active in an acquisition. One of the concluding jobs is to secure the records and information stores of the target.  Unfortunately, the acquiring corporation may find, with dismay, that important archived information is inaccessible, incompatible or obsolete. Records over-retention may carry significant cost and legal exposure.

By the final stages of an acquisition, the people who know the locations, taxonomies, passwords and encryption keys may be long gone. The result is a significant cost to the acquiring company that was not reflected in the target’s valuation and purchase price.

By contrast, in 2020 the CIGO’s office will measure the often-missed costs, values and risks of a target’s information systems, storage and archives – before the purchase. An IGP will ask:

■              What is the cost of integrating, federating or migrating the target’s records?

■              Is the target’s intellectual property preserved, accessible and compatible?

■              If the target has over-retained information, what is the cost of responsibly disposing of the excess?

Those figures will feed evaluations, so the final purchase price is realistically appropriate.

Information Governance is not strictly about technology, laws/regulations, business processes, security or other disciplines. It is about integrating them all. By 2020, more corporate leaders will recognise that their firms cannot succeed with isolated technology, departmental fiefdoms and duplicated resources and efforts. They will insist on information integration, synergy and enterprise-wide support for the corporate mission. The art and science that achieves that holistic approach is Information Governance.

IGPs will apply this holistic view of technology across their enterprise. As Big Data gets bigger, as regulations get tighter, as legal defence becomes more expensive, the CIGO will see that technical advances are applied wherever they are most beneficial. They will not be locked up in whatever department first discovers the progress.

Watch for the rise of Information Governance in the next five years. The corporations that apply this art/science will realise positive results in their bottom lines.


About The Author:

Gordon E.J. Hoke is an independent consultant based in Lake County, Illinois, USA.  He is an Information Governance Professional and a Certified Records Manager.  As a practitioner, he served at Abbott Laboratories; as a consultant he has represented KPMG and Duff & Phelps.  He is the author of over 300 publications and frequently presents at conferences.  His Blog is at www.PositivelyRIM.blogspot.comHe may be reached at