Those of us in the IT profession (or Information Management as one colleague recently suggested as an alternative*) don’t do ourselves many favours when it comes to using complex terminology and also expecting business people to understand and embrace IT best practises…
Whilst adopting concepts/practises such as Enterprise Architecture (EA), Data Governance, Information Management (IM), Knowledge Management (KM) are all well and good, the sheer number of buzz phrases and concepts must be bewildering for most non techies. I will admit that sometimes I struggle with the difference for example with Master Data Management vs Master Reference Data without resorting to Google or Wikipedia.
Of course some will argue that is what the Architect or Analyst roles are all about – to match business requirements to IT solutions. But if we ever want colleagues or clients or stakeholders to truly embrace the concepts of Knowledge Management or Data Management / Governance we need to break down these barriers.
Its all too easy to get DM/IM/KM confused if its not the way you think. Generally / at a high level its accepted that Data can be converted into useful Information and that humans (eg employees) walk around with a lot of Knowledge that often needs to be managed (and shared) more effectively. But often we don’t take the time to even explain these concepts – we just jump into enterprise IT lingo and expect others to know what we are on about (or why it makes business sense). Sometimes colleagues can get confused by products such as Sharepoint and what they do – as they can think they are the solution to Knowledge Management – when actually they are just the product or underlying tool that can enable Knowledge Management – its embracing the core concepts of KM that is key.
If we are not careful we will go start to regress back to the bad old days of IT where the IT guy was locked in the cupboard as no one understood him…. Ok maybe that’s going too far but you know what I mean!
Or maybe I am being unfair? After all every different business area I have worked in seems to have its own Acronyms (finance is a nightmare with IPOs, CFA, Swaps, Derivatives etc etc etc) – is it now accepted practise to just Google terms you don’t understand and be proactive about learning these things? Unfortunately in my experience some people aren’t prepared to do that (unless its in their area of expertise) – and you just switch them off or loose them before you can sell them the juicy or beneficial part of the story.
* Information Management was selected as to not confuse people with “plain old Information Technology” – the physical desktop PCs, laptops etc and kit that every business needs. Information Management it was argued is different as it is the leveraging of IT capability (where IM people are part of the core business team) to improve the way Information is managed (or processes are operated) and used as an Asset rather than something just delegated to IT to “sort out”.