A CIO’s job is never just to manage IT systems. It’s also to look after one of the company’s most important assets, its information. When used correctly, the right data will divulge significant information into a myriad of things an organisation can really benefit from, including what customers think, how well certain products are selling and where services need to be improved. This is the foundation for Fortune 500 companies like Google and Facebook, who instinctively understand the important link between information and profitability.
CIOs are expected to identify and leverage information, turning data from an asset into an income. But that job is made far harder by a communication breakdown that’s endemic in every company. While CIOs are well aware of the value of data, most employees aren’t. According to recent research, 36 per cent of European workers don’t understand the link between information and their company’s profitability, a rate that’s even higher among less senior employees.
This stat can turn into a CIO’s worst headache, as the very people who create, organise and input the data are unaware of its value. These kinds of disconnects are common in the workplace, but prove particularly challenging for CIOs given the slightly abstract value of information (for front-line employees, at least). After all, making the link between a spreadsheet filled with customer information and company revenue can be a bit of a stretch for anyone that is not directly involved in information processing.
The answer to this problem lies in two logical steps: better training and robust information management systems. The value of education is difficult to dispute: research shows that with proper training, the percentage of employees who get the link between information and profitability goes up by nine points (from 64 per cent to 73 per cent). Once again, an emphasis on more junior employees is key, as it’s usually these workers who do not receive formal instruction on the value of data.
What about the type of training? It depends on the nature of your business, but informing workers about the value of data management goes hand-in-hand with teaching them proper procedure for storing information. Employees average 25 minutes a day wasted searching for documents; a figure that can, once again, be drastically improved with the appropriate education.
Training also complements the second step: making sure you’ve got robust, simple data management systems in place. Teaching workers how and why to manage their information is no good if your system is overly complicated, they just aren’t going to bother.
Information is valuable. For CIOs this is obvious, but because data isn’t normally listed on the balance sheet, there’s an uphill battle in persuading employees (and occasionally even fellow C-suite execs) of this fact. However, by designing and implementing a proper data management and training system, you can get employees on-side and safeguard one of your company’s most important assets. As a result of course, the company’s profitability will be at least partly, in your hands.