Information-Driven Business
How to Manage Data and Information for Maximum Advantage

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Facebook as a way of sharing information with your customers
by Robert Hillard

It’s been a lucrative decade for consultants in information management with new work being as easy to win as saying the word “compliance”.  Executives are more than willing to sign-up new consulting engagements based the need to meet their compliance and regulatory requirements.  The trouble is, this type of information management engagement breeds a defensive rather than a confident enterprise.

A defensive organization believes that data needs to be locked-down, that risks need to be taken out and the analysis resulting from any dataset should be predictable.  Of course, any regular reader of this blog would know that we view data contained in large enterprises as complex and displaying all of the attributes of chaos mathematics which means any attempt to remove surprises from data is a fruitless endeavour.

A confident organization, on the other hand, recognizes that data is complex and chaotic but seeks to gain benefit from that complexity.  Rather than be afraid of randomness, they use the techniques of MIKE2.0 to identify the risks and then focus on monitoring and measuring.  In general, I observe a strong correlation between the confident enterprise and the adoption of Web 2.0 techniques and principles.  The confident organization believes that there is more value in collaboration and is willing to sponsor individual innovation.

A good example of why this is so important can be seen in social networking sites such as Facebook.  With the rapid growth in their use by a new generation of consumers, service providers ranging from telecommunication and financial services right through to government, need to come to grips with both the technology and the cultural drivers behind them.  Consumers are becoming more confident in sharing quite detailed information about themselves in a way that they expect others to pick-up.  Increasingly it will make no sense for providers to ask individuals to provide data about their relationships, locale or other details when those are already available in the public web.

In fact, one of the reasons why Facebook is so powerful is its ability to interface into custom applications.  Imagine the impact if you wanted to sell these consumers a new financial or telecommunications product and you made it possible to apply online from within Facebook!  More importantly, you can give the individual a sense of control by allowing them to privately share critical information with you and then maintain it in a form with which they are comfortable – perhaps for a multitude of providers.

Obviously there are challenges in this type of initiative, but good use of data measurement, reconciliation and parsing approaches allow it to be done.  The question is whether your enterprise has even considered whether it’s worth doing?  You can bet it won’t be long before your competitors do!

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