At Technicity West last week, Jed Cawthorne, principle evangelist at Shinydocs, an information management software company, and chief information officer (CIO) of IT World Canada, Jim Love, sat down to talk about how organizations can understand their data and the opportunities it can create.
As an evangelist, Cawthorne extolls the benefits of the company, as well as the information management, data management, and information governance industry.
“It’s about listening to everyone who’s part of that industry, both our vendors and, more importantly, customers and users of information management technology,” he said.
Through his work, Cawthorne noted that he has seen several common themes in regards to government level issues. These include dealing with freedom of information requests, understanding the depth and breadth of the information they’re dealing with, and also providing timely access to that information to both their employees and to their citizens.
While there are many problems that can stem from these themes, Cawthorne emphasized one main issue. He said it’s all about trying to figure out where to start when it comes to beginning a project. Organizations need to know how much information they already have, where it’s located, and who has access to it.
Love noted that resource challenges can be pretty common and difficult to solve. “There’s a lot of people who have tons of information out there, that’s the problem,” he observed. “It’s all over the place. We don’t know where it is. How do we get to that state where we know what we have and where it is?”
Cawthorne suggested that the use of modern technologies can help organizations understand what they have and how to utilize it best.
“Graphs and a nice dashboard can help you visually gain a quick understanding of where everything is. Technology keeps moving on.”
He noted that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations came up with helpful and innovative solutions to let employees work from home. But he added that it’s important to ensure that these solutions have long-term benefits.
“Now they need to turn that from a quick response to a business need to understand the long-term impact, how much of it is needed, and should some of it perhaps not be there for various reasons. So people are starting to look at long-term sustainability. That’s where technology can help them with their understanding.”
Love summarized the process for organizing and creating opportunities from data in four steps: Bringing information together, searching through it, identifying the key parts of this information, and then breaking down the silos.
Cawthorne agreed, and said while each situation can be different, this structure and technologies should apply to multiple problems organizations could face.
“Whether you are setting up that single information number for your citizens to call to find the services that they require from the city, or whether you’re an information governance head in a provincial level agency dealing with Freedom of Information requests, the same technologies can help you.”