All About Design at the 2016 Information Governance Conference

Laurence Hart of Dominion Consulting participating in the closing keynote panel of the 2016 Information Governance ConferenceThis year’s Information Governance Conference (InfoGovCon) in Providence, RI last week was a great experience and I was excited to represent TeraThink at it. During what is quickly becoming the premier event in the industry, a milestone was marked in the evolution of the information governance industry. Loaded with some amazing speakers, the conference had a feeling of an industry who is trying new ideas and advocating for a complete change to how we approach the management, and subsequent governance, of information.

The key focal point was on the people working with information in our organizations. How can we remove the friction between people and the content management systems (CMS) that we implement? Specifically, how can we use design thinking to improve the user experience? This new focus on design and people was present in keynotes, individual talks, and in the hallway conversations. While there were still a lot of war stories shared, there was an underpinning of hope that we can make real progress.

The Keynotes

All of the keynotes were excellent. The talks by John Newton, Cheryl McKinnon, Whitney Bouck, and my own keynote on Information Governance in the Age of Digital Transformation were what you would expect from the speakers if you had seen them before. They were informative, insightful, and all took a different perspective on the challenges in the information governance space.

One keynote that stood out was given by the Provost of the Rhode Island School of Design, Pradeep Sharma. He talked about how design impacts everything in our lives. He emphasized that too many people abandon design thinking after the first set back.

Pradeep made the point that design matters. More importantly, he stressed that design is not what we do, it is how we do things. When making new things we need innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs. This applies to both physical items and systems. Creating a new way to do something, finding a way to apply that idea to a perceived problem, and taking the risks to make it a reality are different skills. Design brings those skillsets together because it is the incredibly rare person that excels at all three.

When we look at deploying information solutions, we need to think of new ways to solve the problem. They have to fit into how people work now without simply replicating a manual process in a web browser. We have to start from scratch and design systems that innovate around how they interact with people. Design should come first and stay in the lead throughout everything we do.

The Closing Keynote Panel

I was honored to be on stage with Cheryl McKinnon and Whitney Bouck for the closing panel recapping our observations from the conference. We were united on agreeing that the forward looking nature of this year’s InfoGovCon was a welcome change of pace. human centered design was a real consideration at the holistic level and not simply focused on creating a better user interface.

My key observation was that we have digitized the paper but we haven’t changed anything else in most of our systems. As a result, we have not transformed how we do business in the digital age. As a result, we are never sure what information we have. When we ask a system for a piece of information, if it doesn’t come up, we ask again in a different way. We don’t assume that the information is missing; we assume that we can’t find it. In the future we need to know what information is, and is not, in our systems.

Whitney stressed the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in moving forward, inspiring a fun discussion. AI should be able to group, categorize, and help us take measurement of our information. People have to identify and categorize the results but AI can help us get a handle on what information is similar. We all agreed that there is some great potential to make information systems frictionless for people.

Cheryl stressed that we need to tie information governance initiatives to corporate priorities. As per her keynote, cost-cutting is only the 5th most important focus for CEOs this year. Increasing revenue was the top priority. Identifying and linking information governance to one of the top 2 or 3 priorities for your organization can make the difference. To be successful, we have to contribute value.

Cannot Wait Until Next Year

It will be a long year of anticipation as I wait to attend next year’s conference in Providence. It is a great city and we expect the Information Coalition team will pull together another slate of great speakers. In the meantime, we will eagerly await the release of the videos from the event.

If you would like to learn more about what happened and cannot wait for the videos, reach out to me on Twitter. I’d be happy to chat, share perspectives, and dive into more details about what the implications of this evolving direction are for the industry and for you.

[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the blog of Dominion Consulting. On November 1, 2017, Dominion Consulting merged with TeraThink and are now operating jointly as TeraThink. All blog posts migrated from the Dominion Consulting website have been updated to refer to ourselves as TeraThink.]

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