Open Data will ask a lot from all organizations. Make no mistake; the requirements to fulfill Open Government will not be met with the issuance of formal accountabilities. This challenge will only see results if the ways and means of handling, managing and leveraging data are ensured. Current responses to Open Government via various Open Data initiatives are being led by the communications branches of organisations, mostly as an exercise to respond to immediate pressures of releasing existing data sets.
But, increasingly, government users of data, citizens, will continue to demand greater access to the information assets they are investing in. They will ask that data sets be further opened. The benefits of doing so have been laid out by many others. As a result, Open Government is not if, but when. For executives, this means respond now. But CIOs today know that what is required is an infrastructure that is ready for now and ready for what has yet to come.
The IM/IT infrastructure is already well poised by virtue of having the pieces already in place. However, the pieces just aren’t lined up. Rather, each unit within IM/IT is focussed on its own results. Each takes a piece of the information pie and owns it: data with business analysis; records with information managers, and published materials with librarians.
The essence of the answers lies in slightly restructuring these existing partnerships.The key then lies in refocussing the work to emphasise that all information can and should be harnessed, regardless of published or unpublished, data or record. The key becomes focussing on the content as value rather than seeing the containers (databases) as the centre piece.
The players in question consist of business analysts, data designers, information managers, and librarians. For most organisations, these groups all currently work within the purview of the CIO.
Yet they have been working in silos for decades. Together, this group should adopt a new approach called the Business Information Model.
The Business Information Model (BIM) has the means to explain a vision, an organizational structure and an outcome. BIM supports the current vision that information is to be managed as an asset by placing the emphasis on working towards the practices of identifying, creating, handling and harnessing information. BIM is a model that is quickly adopted. Re-tooling is not the answer. Realigning the current work structure is. BIM offers a model to follow to do so. More discussion on this model will be forthcoming.
Public-private sector discourse is fast exploring models and ideas associated with this topic through various professional associations. Recently at ARMA NCR’s IM Days event, a key theme was discussion on responding to Open Government via the management of information. A united front is called for. Opportunities come and opportunities go. What will the IM/IT collective make of this one? Future articles will continue to explore this theme.