Where Information Management Fits in Hybrid and Digital Workplaces
The emergence of the digital workplace and remote working has led to significant technological advances for business, both in terms of the technologies available and the way companies use them.
Yet, when it comes to managing information, traditional guiding principles remain.
Information Management Drives the Digital Workplace
Even before the pandemic, the need for better information management was palpable and a vision of the future workplace had begun to form. The Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM) defines information management as the organizational structure within enterprises to enable the management of information throughout the information lifecycle, regardless of source or format (e.g., data, paper documents, electronic documents, audio, social business, video) and for delivery through multiple channels.
The very definition of what constitutes a digital workplace highlights the pivotal role information management plays in digital transformation strategies.
ClearBox Consulting founder Sam Marshall defined the digital workplace in 2014 as the concept that there is a virtual equivalent to the physical workplace, but that it needs to be planned and managed coherently to avoid loss of productivity and engagement.
According to Marshall, the digital workplace provides an organization five underlying capabilities:
- Communication and employee engagement
- Finding and sharing of information and knowledge
- Business applications (process specific tools and employee self-service)
- Agile working, or the ability to be productive any time and place
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The Need for EIM Fast-Tracks Digital Transformation
Since the pandemic, the emergence of new work models has compelled companies to rethink the way they manage information. Many had begun the process before COVID-19, but few had anticipated such urgency as we have today.
Within a remote work environment, whether the remote policies are full time or otherwise, the way employees create, share and access information needs to adapt, said Scott DePeralta, a San Jose-based marketing consultant — or the business will not survive. The need for better information management systems and processes has fast-tracked digital transformation projects to ensure companies can operate effectively in a digital world.
According to DePeralta, this includes optimizing information management platforms for remote teams as well as investing in other technologies such as AI, machine learning and analytics, all of which can help leaders make smarter business decisions and better understand customer behavior.
“By taking a comprehensive approach to digital transformation, you will be able to maximize efficiency and prepare your organization for the future of work,” DeParalta said.
In his opinion, hybrid work models present unique challenges when it comes to managing data and collaborating with remote teams, but they also offer an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of new technologies that can help them thrive in a digital workplace.
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The Role of Information Management
Information management is a term often used broadly, and it can be difficult for companies to zero in on the most important role EIM plays for the business.
Richard Nolan, chief people officer at software company Epsos Now, said that's because on a practical level, information management involves the collection, processing and organization of data so that it can be used effectively internally and externally.
In a digital workplace, this includes a long list of things, from ensuring you have secure tools and technology to facilitate collaboration and establishing procedures to store important company-related documents securely, to adopting software programs to manage customer data and financials efficiently, among others.
More specifically, this can mean using cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox Business, implementing controls for confidential and sensitive information, and investing in sophisticated security software solutions to help protect against internal and external threats — something that has become essential in the digital age and even more so in a remote environment.
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Nolan said an increasing number of organizations are recognizing the importance of investing in efficient and secure systems for managing their organizational data and moving forward into an era where more people will be engaging remotely with colleagues at different locations around the globe. “Having comprehensive policies regarding safety protocols must become top priority for companies operating within this new environment,” Nolan said.
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Information Platforms Evolve With Business Needs
Vendors of information management platforms are responding to the emergence of the digital and remote workplace by providing more flexible and scalable solutions that can support remote and distributed teams.
Amey Dharwadker, a machine learning engineer at Facebook, said many platforms now offer cloud-based solutions that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, thereby allowing every member of the team to collaborate and access important information from anywhere.
Security functions are also being prioritized. “Another way information management platforms are responding to these new ways of working is by providing more robust security and privacy features,” Dharwadker said.
Because of the growing risks of cyber incidents and the increasing quantity of data being collected — particularly sensitive data — companies are required to not only ensure only authorized users access confidential information but also be able to prove they took reasonable measures to do so.
Information management platforms address this need by providing advanced security measures such as encryption, multi-factor authentication and data leakage prevention to ensure the safety of data, Dharwadker said.
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Dual Information Management Models
Information management has always been critical to enabling employees in their daily tasks, even in the conventional workplace from decades ago. But there is a clear difference today, with more and more employees working remotely. To advance and survive, companies must implement efficient solutions that can not only handle the information load of today but also remain agile to adapt to what's to come tomorrow.
Alaa Negeda, senior solution architect and chief technology officer at Alxtel, said companies can either adopt a mixed work approach, where employees in a hybrid work style work primarily in the typical office space but also have remote access to information and technological resources, or a digital workplace paradigm, where employees in a digital workplace model use technology to access and exchange information.
Both models have advantages and disadvantages, Negeda said. Employees may work from home and be productive under the hybrid work style, but the model is less flexible because employees are constrained in their capacity to work from multiple places.
Because it allows employees to work from any location and access information from any device, the digital workplace model is more efficient. However, Negeda said, because employees are limited in their capacity to deal with traditional paper documents, the digital workplace paradigm may be less flexible and demand more of companies from the onset.