Friday, December 11, 2009

Islands of Information

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There's a problem I see in every small business -- islands of information. Every computer has info that should be available to the entire company. Instead it isn't shared.

These pieces of missing information cause problems. In the best case scenario, you have multiple redundant copies of reports wasting storage space.  In the worst case, you don't have vital information you need to make good decisions.

For example, an employee works to create a report. This report is used only by the immediate supervisor, team or department to make decisions and solve problems. However, the information in the report would also be enormously useful to others too.

Because there is little communication between business units (other than casting blame or issuing demands), the need for information is rarely discussed. Departments typically fend for themselves. Valuable business intelligence is lost because of data hoarding, intentional or otherwise.

Some consultants believe that this discrepancy is caused by willful withholding of information by jealous workers. While that may sometimes be the case, I think it's based more on simple ignorance. People don't usually go to work thinking about how they can help the other workers. They go to work to get their jobs done.

One of the major tasks for any IT department is bridging those islands of information. This enables you to see the big picture. Seeing the big picture lets you make much better decisions.