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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets: An Executive Management Perspective

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In the knowledge-based economy the wealth-creating capacity of organisations is no longer based on tangible assets such as buildings, equipment, and vehicles alone. Intangible assets are key contributors to securing sustainable competitive advantage. It is therefore critically important that intangible Information Assets (IA) such as data, documents, content on web sites, and knowledge are understood and well managed. The sound management of these assets allows an organisation to run faster and better, resulting in products and services that are of a higher quality at a lower cost with the benefits of reduced risk, improved competitive position, and higher return on in-vestment. The initial stage of this research found that executive level managers acknowledge the existence and importance of Information Assets in their organisations, but that hardly any mecha-nisms are in place for the management and governance of these valuable assets. This paper dis-cusses the reasons for this situation by referring to barriers such as lack of awareness and justifi-cation, ineffective management, leadership, and governance, as well as inadequate systems and practices. Without understanding these barriers, it is impossible to improve the management of these crucial assets and thus reduce risk, improve competitive position, and increase return on investment.
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Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management Volume 7, 2012
Barriers to the Effective Deployment of
Information Assets:
An Executive Management Perspective
Nina Evans
University of South
Australia,
Adelaide, Australia
nina.evans@unisa.edu.au
James Price
Experience Matters,
Adelaide, Australia
james.price@experiencematters.com.au
Abstract
In the knowledge-based economy the wealth-creating capacity of organisations is no longer based
on tangible assets such as buildings, equipment, and vehicles alone. Intangible assets are key
contributors to securing sustainable competitive advantage. It is therefore critically important that
intangible Information Assets (IA) such as data, documents, content on web sites, and knowledge
are understood and well managed. The sound management of these assets allows an organisation
to run faster and better, resulting in products and services that are of a higher quality at a lower
cost with the benefits of reduced risk, improved competitive position, and higher return on in-
vestment. The initial stage of this research found that executive level managers acknowledge the
existence and importance of Information Assets in their organisations, but that hardly any mecha-
nisms are in place for the management and governance of these valuable assets. This paper dis-
cusses the reasons for this situation by referring to barriers such as lack of awareness and justifi-
cation, ineffective management, leadership, and governance, as well as inadequate systems and
practices. Without understanding these barriers, it is impossible to improve the management of
these crucial assets and thus reduce risk, improve competitive position, and increase return on
investment.
Keywords: information assets, information asset management, leadership, management, govern-
ance, barriers.
Introduction
The Resource Based View (RBV) of the firm (Barney, 1991, 2001) argues that organisations pos-
sess resources such as land, labour, capital, and Information Assets that enable them to achieve
competitive advantage and superior
long-term performance. The Industrial
Age was characterised by large manu-
facturing facilities and during this time
management attention was focused on
managing, measuring, and reporting on
tangible resources and assets like build-
ings, plant, equipment, and machinery.
In the modern knowledge-based econ-
omy the wealth-creating capacity of or-
ganisations is no longer based on tangi-
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
ble assets alone. Intangible assets such as data, documents, content, and knowledge are critical to
the operation of every organisation (Freeze & Khulkani, 2007; Jhunjhunwala, 2009; Salamuddin,
Bakar, Ibrahim, & Hassan, 2010; Wilson & Stenson, 2008). These intangible assets are referred
to as Information Assets in this paper. Information Assets drive, record, and enforce organisa-
tional strategy and growth and enhance efficiency of resource allocation. They also help leaders
to make informed decisions to improve customer acquisition/retention, employee recruit-
ment/retention, and enhance employee motivation and loyalty (Steenkamp & Kashyap, 2010).
Organisational knowledge is regarded as a key factor in management practices (Garcia-Parra,
Simo, Sallan, & Mundet, 2009) and the capacity to create, transfer, and employ knowledge con-
tributes to organisational success and sustainable competitive advantage (Davenport & Prusak,
1998; Drucker, 1994; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Spender, 1994; Teece, 1998).
Practitioner experience and anecdotal evidence in the form of numerous failed Information Tech-
nology (IT) initiatives, ineffective business practices, and a lack of understanding of the value and
deployment of information on all levels of organisations generated a lack of confidence that In-
formation Assets are being effectively managed (Experience Matters, 2012). Furthermore, whilst
there is copious academic and industry material on various aspects of Information Management
including Data Quality, Knowledge Management (KM), and the Semantic Web, very little re-
search has been done on why Information Assets are not better managed in real-world organisa-
tions. In response to the observed gap in research and practices the authors embarked upon a re-
search project to investigate the causes of this observation. The first phase of the research was
conducted in Australia and South Africa and explored the deployment of data, documents, con-
tent, and knowledge from a practice perspective (Evans, Hunter, & Price, 2011; Hunter, Evans, &
Price, 2011), to determine whether organisations recognise Information Assets that are of value to
their operations and how these assets are managed. Preliminary findings indicate that every or-
ganisation has Information Assets that are of value to its operations. Participant 2 (P2) com-
mented that all they have in their business is knowledge and that “the business would grind to a
halt without these assets” (P6). Despite this, few organisations manage these assets with the same
rigour as they manage their other scarce and valuable resources, and not one of these organisa-
tions could claim exemplary practice in the management and deployment of those assets. Where
Information Asset Management (IAM) programmes do exist they seem to be compliance driven.
There is a lack of a value driven response to the types of Information Assets investigated in this
project.
The findings of the first phase of the research were sufficiently compelling to justify further in-
vestigation. The next phase focused on the reasons why Information Assets are not effectively
deployed in organisations (i.e., the ‘barriers’). This phase of the research is reported in this paper.
The format for the remainder of this manuscript is as follows. In the next section literature which
relates to the deployment of Information Assets is discussed. Then the presentation of the re-
search approach and methods provides a context for the project. The identified barriers are then
discussed, followed by conclusions and suggestions what future investigation might entail.
Terms and Definitions
Information Assets
Various terms and definitions can be employed to describe Information Assets. These assets are
intangible and for the purpose of this project the following are included in the definition of In-
formation Assets: all explicit, codified data, documents and published content, irrespective of
medium (e.g., hard copy, soft copy, microfiche, and head-space) and format (e.g., Word docu-
ment, spreadsheet, email, drawing, and HTML), as well as tacit knowledge. These intangible
assets are inputs to the business. Intangible assets such as relationship capital, brand awareness,
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Evans & Price
and goodwill that are typically outputs of the business are excluded. Tangible assets such as Fi-
nancial Assets (money), Physical Assets (buildings, plant and equipment, computer hardware and
software) and Human Assets (people) are also excluded from this definition.
Governance and Management
There is a clear distinction between governance and management. Governance refers to what de-
cisions must be made to ensure effective management (decision domains) and who makes the
decisions (locus of accountability for decision-making). Management involves making and im-
plementing the decisions (Khatri & Brown, 2010). A critical role of governance is to monitor and
control the behaviour of management, who preside over the day-to-day activities of running the
organisation (Fama & Jensen, 1983). Key assets such as human assets, financial assets, physical
assets, Information Technology assets, relationship assets, and intangible assets such as data, in-
formation, and knowledge need to be governed (Khatri & Brown, 2010). Companies have dem-
onstrated governance and management proficiency in human assets, financial assets, physical as-
sets, Information Technology assets, and relationship assets. However, many organisations lack
an all-encompassing information management and information governance policy (Kooper,
Maes, & Lindgren, 2011). A common and scientific approach is required.
Cost, Value and Benefit
Managing Information Assets generates costs, value, and benefits. For the purpose of this re-
search the following working definitions apply:
The cost of managing Information Assets is incurred through the creation and deployment of an
organisation’s data, documents, content, and knowledge. Information Assets are managed by
every person in the organisation, and this is done through, amongst many things, reporting, writ-
ing and reviewing, researching, and having meetings. Most organisations consider only IT costs
which are comprised of hardware + software + maintenance + support + upgrades + telecommu-
nications + IT staff salaries. This calculation grossly underestimates the true cost because it only
considers the cost of managing the organisation’s infrastructure, not the cost of managing its data,
information, and knowledge.
The value of an organisation’s Information Assets is described as its worth to stakeholders (cus-
tomers, employees, trading partners, and community) and their organisation. This value is
ephemeral. Information that has value to an individual one day may not be of value to them the
next day; the information ages and may become obsolete. The value is also contextual and user-
specific. Consolidated information that is valuable to a Chief Executive may not be of the same
value to other employees.
The benefit of managing Information Assets is the advantage that accrues from their deployment.
It is measured in many ways including value-creation, reduced costs, mitigated risks, improved
productivity, competitive advantage, and increased staff morale. Whether those benefits are real-
ised and, more importantly, recognised is dependent on the culture and practices of each organisa-
tion.
Literature Review: Information Asset Management (IAM)
Information Assets
Various literature sources refer to non-tangible assets as intangibles, information assets, knowl-
edge assets, intangible capital (Fincham & Roslender, 2003b; Lev, 2001; Tomer, 2008), intellec-
tual capital, intellectual assets (Bismuth & Tojo, 2008; Litschka, Markom, & Schunder, 2006; D.
A. Robertson & Lanfranconi, 2001), intangible resources (Bontis, Dragonetty, Jacobsen, & Roos,
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
1999), and knowledge resources (Grover & Davenport, 2001). Steenkamp and Kashyap (2010)
describe Intangible Assets as assets that contribute to the organisational strategy, but are not rec-
ognised and disclosed in the balance sheet. Knowledge Assets are described as “the only mean-
ingful resource” (Drucker, 1993), the “indisputable value drivers to success” (Jhunjhunwala,
2009), the “most important production factor” (Steenkamp & Kashyap, 2010) and according to
Bontis et al. (1999) they are “today’s driver of company life”. Chen and Lin (2004) emphasise
that the value created by intangible assets (such as human capital) prevails over that created by
tangible assets (such as machines). Savage (1990) agrees that the wealth-creating capacity of the
company is based on the knowledge and capabilities of its people. Rodgers and Housel (2009)
suggest that modern day organisations need to more actively identify and measure these key re-
sources and drivers of value in the organisation. The ability to create value from Information As-
sets depends on the management capabilities of individual firms and the implementation of ap-
propriate business strategies. It is, therefore, critically important that these assets are well under-
stood and properly managed and that they play a major role in the strategic management process
(Swartz, 2007).
The Management of Data, Information and Knowledge
As long ago as 1989, Chambers said that “command of information decides who survives and
who wins in the corporate jungle”. He added that the management of information gives an enter-
prise a competitive edge and “information mismanagement always leads to decline” (Chambers,
1989). As with other core assets, namely financial, human, and physical, organisations should
develop a formal function to manage and govern data, information, and knowledge as corporate
assets. Information Management is defined as “a process of establishing the organisational prin-
ciples for various data life cycles across both structured and unstructured data sources, instituting
a committee to govern the principles, and setting up the processes and procedures to harness the
data such that meaningful business insights are derived and delivered to the consumers at the
right time in the right format” (Bhatt & Thirunavukkarasu, 2010).
Improving Information Asset Management practices should be a key focus for many organisa-
tions today, across both the public and private sectors. Everyone in an organisation, especially
executives, should therefore understand the importance of effective Information Asset Manage-
ment to their organisation. Without that understanding, there is little chance of the strategies be-
ing implemented successfully (Swartz, 2007). This is being driven by a range of factors, includ-
ing a need to improve the efficiency of business processes, the demands of compliance regula-
tions, and the desire to deliver new services (J. Robertson, 2005). However, Swartz (2007) refers
to a Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) study that was published in 2007 – the first com-
prehensive look at how Information Asset Management is practiced worldwide. The study re-
vealed that most organisations still do not manage data and information well. Despite the recogni-
tion that data, information, and knowledge are the lifeblood of a business, organisations face sig-
nificant data management challenges. The study showed that fewer than 10 percent of the organi-
sations studied were using documented processes to manage these assets. Organisations don’t
seem to fully appreciate the value of their Information Assets. This was supported by the findings
in this research project. Organisations often treat data, information, and knowledge as mainte-
nance cost, whereas Swartz (2007) suggests that organisations should regard them as their great-
est assets and invest in their management accordingly.
Barriers to IAM
The revolution in Information Technology over the last 25 to 30 years has been unprecedented
and it has completely changed the way people live and work. Debra Logan (2010), Research VP
at Gartner Inc., states that organisations have had some spectacular failures in managing informa-
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Evans & Price
tion. According to her, information management failures are social, rather than technological in
nature, which makes the governance of Information Assets difficult. Evgeniou and Cartwright
(2005) identified three categories of barriers to the effective deployment of Information Assets,
namely, behavioural, process, and organisational barriers. Hong, Suh, & Koo (2011) also refer to
the key challenge of encouraging knowledge sharing, as knowledge is becoming increasingly im-
portant for gaining competitive advantage. These authors identified two types of knowledge shar-
ing issues, namely, individual and organisational bottlenecks. Individual barriers include internal
resistance, trust, motivation, and a gap in awareness and knowledge. Organisational barriers in-
clude language issues, conflict avoidance, bureaucracy, and distance. Other barriers to knowledge
transfer and sharing were identified as scarcity of time, lack of awareness about Knowledge Man-
agement (KM) and its benefits, lack of top management support, lack of funding, an unclear strat-
egy, weak IT support, unclear information demand culture, unbalanced effort versus reward,
technology and knowledge complexity, lack of trust, ineffective communication, and inadequate
information systems (Hase, Sankaran, & Davies, 2006; Khakpour, Ghahremani, & Pardakhtchi,
2012; Zyngier, 2002).
Research Methodology
The practical relevance of contemporary research is a recurring theme in the fields of information
systems and management (the “rigor versus relevance” debate). The practical value of much of
the published research is questioned and it is argued that research often draws on methods that are
inappropriate to the applied nature of these disciplines (Benbasat & Zmud, 1999; Klein & Rowe,
2008; Mohrman, Gibson, & Mohrman, 2001; Moisander & Stenfors, 2009; Nicolai & Seidl,
2010; Straub & Ang, 2011). Information Assets such as knowledge exist within the fields of prac-
tice and Schatzki, Knorr-Cetina, & Savigny (2001), Putnam (1995) and Rorty (1998) suggest that
the practitioner should be at the centre of theory development. The starting point of research
could, therefore, be the opinions and experiences of professionals, managers, executives, and
consultants (Lee, 2010, p. 346). With this in mind the guiding principle of the research project
described in this paper is a judicious combination of academic rigour, uniqueness, and practical
relevance. Academic rigour gives credibility to the study. Uniqueness ensures innovative, crea-
tive, and groundbreaking work. Relevance means that real life business problems are being
solved in a pragmatic fashion, which demands practical application of ideas or concepts with
identifiable consequences (Goldkuhl, 2006). The research question was, “What are the barriers to
effective Information Asset Management in organisations?”
The research method was based upon the qualitative Narrative Inquiry technique, in which re-
search participants’ recollections and interpretations of personal experiences were documented by
means of one hour interviews (Bruner, 1990; Czarniawska-Joerges, 1995; Scholes, 1981, p. 205;
Swap, Leonard, Schields, & Abrams, 2001; Tulving, 1972). The narratives or stories proffered by
interviewees invariably reflected experiences gained from addressing real business problems,
ranging from demonstrable success to manifest failure. Particular attention was paid to the con-
sideration of confidentiality of sensitive corporate information. Consent was sought, confidential-
ity agreements were signed, security provisions were undertaken, and names of individuals and
organisations remain unidentified. The participants included Board members and C-level execu-
tives, such as Chief Executive Officers (CEO), Chief Financial Officers (CFO), Chief Informa-
tion Officers (CIO) and Chief Knowledge Officers (CKO) of predominantly large Australian and
South African organisations in both private and public sectors (refer to Table 1).
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
Table 1: Research Participants
PARTICIPANT NUMBER TITLE INDUSTRY
P1 CKO Utilities (Pipelines)
P2 Managing Partner Services (Legal)
P3 CKO Government (State)
P4 CFO Utilities (Rail)
P5 Data Management Banking, Finance and Insurance
P6 CEO Services (HR)
P7 CFO Banking, Finance and Insurance
P8 CFO Services (Automotive)
P9 CEO Manufacturing (Process)
P10 Board member Various, mostly banking
P11 CIO Banking, Finance and Insurance
P12 CIO Government (Local)
P13 CEO Services (Information)
P14 CIO Banking, Finance and Insurance
P15 CFO Banking, Finance and Insurance
P16 CFO Resources (Oil and Gas)
P17 CFO Banking, Finance and Insurance
The framework for conducting the one hour qualitative interviews was provided by the Long In-
terview Technique (McCracken, 1988). An interview protocol was used to facilitate gathering the
narratives of research participants by focusing the discussion on the specific research question
and the research participant’s experience and by promoting a consistent approach across a num-
ber of interviews (Swap et al., 2001). At the start of the interview, general questions about the
organisation were asked to develop trust between the researcher and participant and to provide a
context for the more detailed discussion to follow. Planned prompts (predetermined) and floating
prompts (an impromptu decision to explore a comment in more detail) enabled the researchers to
delve into detail as required. The interviews were audio recorded for future analysis to identify
emerging themes and barriers.
Analysing qualitative data involves significant effort and before the interviews it is incumbent
upon the qualitative researcher to understand how the data will be analysed (Luna-Reyes & An-
dersen, 2003). In qualitative research it is common practice to identify emerging themes. In this
project the interview transcripts were thoroughly reviewed to identify categories of data which
support the identification of emerging themes and in future may be employed to construct a re-
search framework that precisely describes all aspects of the research project, from issue to resolu-
tion. As data gathered from qualitative interviews were compared they either supported the crea-
tion of new categories or provided support for existing categories. As the process was carried out
it was incumbent upon the researcher to “… be open to possibilities afforded by the text rather
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than projecting a predetermined system of meanings onto the textual data” (Thompson, 1997, p.
441). Data gathering and analysis was regarded as complete when “theoretical saturation” was
reached, i.e., when no new categories of data could be identified. A large number of barriers –
that support the findings from the literature review – were identified in a thorough data analysis.
These barriers were subsequently clustered into five different categories. These categories are
discussed in the next section.
Findings and Discussion: Barriers to Effective IAM
This section describes the barriers to the effective management of Information Assets, as identi-
fied by a detailed literature review and this empirical research. A diagrammatic representation of
the barriers is included at the end of this section (Figure 1).
Lack of Awareness and Understanding
The problem is not recognised
Oulton (1993) quoted Lewis and Martin who did a study of information management in govern-
ment organisations, manufacturing, and services and found that, while 47 per cent of respondents
said that information management was meaningful as a concept in their situation and 23 per cent
saw it as a key factor in decision-making, 25 per cent did not know the state of information man-
agement in their organisation and only 38 per cent of organisations had a post designated for such
a role. Many years later, Debra Logan (2010) said that organisations still fail to perceive the in-
formation problem at all. This research supports the literature and also found that organisations
to this day do not realise the risk of not managing their Information Assets effectively. The man-
aging partner of a legal firm (P2) said that he is not sure, even in his own mind, that there is a
problem to solve, as a problem implies that there's downside based on the way that the organisa-
tion is working now. The failure of executive management to perceive the problem prevents high
level support and funding to solve the problem. Participant (P14) commented that today’s execu-
tives do not understand information management and added that it is imperative that tomorrow’s
leaders should.
Lack of formal education
Vickers stated back in 1993 that, while it is essential that some people should be trained specifi-
cally for the information manager role, it is also important to include at least the basic principles
of information management in the training of all managers, just as they would study the principles
of accountancy without becoming specialists in that subject. Martin, Davies, & Titterington
(1991) also argue strongly for the explicit provision of information management courses on un-
dergraduate and post-graduate level. Despite this, managers commented during the interviews
that they never had the opportunity to do a course in information management as part of their
formal education/degree programs. Even today, Information Management is not yet a recognised
discipline and people often confuse it with Information Technology.
Lack of on-the-job training and induction
An effective induction process – including training in the way Information Assets are managed –
is critical to an organisation. However, the researchers found that induction processes at organisa-
tions “are not done very well” and do not succeed in creating a culture of effective management
of data, information and knowledge. One manager (P9) commented that “people seem to be
shown to a seat with a computer and that’s it”.
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
Organisations do not understand their Information Assets
One participant (P12) mentioned the importance of organisational ‘maturity’ in the way they un-
derstand master data and its importance. He mentioned that data stewardship (who is responsible
for the data) is becoming a topic of significance and that mature organisations truly understand
and realise return on investment in information. De Long and Fahey (2000) identified the impact
of culture on the management of knowledge assets. According to them cultures, and particularly
subcultures, heavily influence what is perceived as useful, important, or valid information and
knowledge in an organisation. Culture shapes what a group defines as relevant knowledge, and
this will directly affect which knowledge a unit focuses on. Martin et al. (1991) indicate that more
than simple awareness creation is required as the majority of managers have no difficulty in per-
ceiving the advantages of Information Asset Management, but this is not sufficient to persuade
them to make the necessary effort and investment to adopt the concept. They add that manage-
ment need to be convinced of the benefits of effective IAM.
Justification
There is no catalyst or incentive to act
Apart from the lack of awareness, an important barrier to the management of Information Assets
is a lack of justification to invest the time and effort into managing Information Assets. Ineffec-
tive and inefficient Information Asset Management does not necessarily stop a business from
running, which decreases its priority and encourages complacency. One participant (P6) com-
mented that their Information Assets are not managed well, but it is not stopping them from mak-
ing money. While they're making money, “it gets pushed out there into the future – one day, one
day, we'll do these things”. The bad management of Information Assets rarely causes an overt
problem and P2 commented that “we didn’t go broke, we didn’t lose much value, the crisis never
occurred.” A Knowledge Manager (P1) and a Board Member (P10) both commented that senior
managers do not pay attention to data, information, and knowledge because everything is working
fine and people can find what they need to do their jobs. The CKO added that businesses have
insurance cover in case something happens, “so why worry?” Some of the participants com-
mented that the types of businesses they run do not warrant action. For example, P2 said, “We're
not running an oil rig where someone's going to get killed if we don't follow the manual”. P3
agreed that effective Information Asset Management is not a priority as “it is not going to save
someone's life”.
In organisations where the value of Information Assets is not recognised, it often takes a crisis or
severe financial loss to change the attitude. P7 confirmed that it sometimes takes a disaster “for
example when you lose that key person and there are no procedures, there are no documents.”
The Managing Partner of a legal firm (P3) agrees that “if people don’t suffer pain they will not be
likely to want to do something differently”. The Chief Executive Officer of a large manufacturing
company (P9) mentioned that they made a large expansion of one of their plants about two years
ago and that was the catalyst to try and pull together plant operating knowledge and customer
knowledge. They built a business case for a $15 million investment which was approved, because
“at that moment we realised how much we didn’t know”. This finding is supported by Logan
(2010) who says that a failed audit, a lawsuit or an economic crisis often forces organisations to
address the problem.
Compliance requirements are often the only driver
According to Luthy and Forcht (2006) there is a need for organisations to comply with various
reporting authorities, to understand the laws and regulations as well as their impact on informa-
tion management and internal control systems. The US Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is an exam-
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ple of such legislation. Bhatt and Thirunavukkarasu (2010) are concerned that organisations often
only pay attention to the management and governance of data, information, and knowledge if they
are forced to comply with regulations and legislation. The interviewees in this research agreed: “I
think it's easier to sell the information benefits on the back of compliance” (P12). People see sec-
ondary benefit in managing the information: “like it’s going to keep me out of jail if I comply
with the legislation”. The CIO of a finance company (P11) agreed that “the day they say to the
finance guys that there are new Internal Financial Revenue Services (IFRS) rules, things will
change overnight as far as managing the intangible assets are concerned.” The added focus on
compliance has resulted in even more reluctance to manage information, and many employees
save and keep all e-mails, files, data, and information to ensure that they do not get into any kind
of trouble. The “wasteful expense”, the “potential legal repercussions”, or the time and energy
someone else might have to spend making sense of it one day is often not considered (Bhatt &
Thirunavukkarasu, 2010).
IAM gets lost in the day-to-day activities
The priority of managing Information Assets “tends to get pushed away” (P8) as “there are other
priorities, a thousand priorities” (P3). Managers are too busy with the day to day activities such
as “putting out fires, making money, making the customer happy and putting aside five minutes a
week to think about what we're going to do with our systems”. This is especially true for organi-
sations that are growing rapidly as they have more important issues, such as space issues and
staffing issues that “ occupy more of my thinking than anything else” (P6). Employees also feel
that there are burning issues they need to tend to in the first instance: “I have real work to do; I
haven't got time to waste on this” (P12). External pressure such as a volatile economic climate
also impacts on the Information Asset Management of businesses, as described by the CEO of a
large manufacturing company: “We’ve just been through the GFC and sales are tough and busi-
ness is tough. We’ve got a lot of immediate priorities to generate better cash flows and better re-
turns to shareholder. You get locked up a bit in the here and now” (P9).
The cost of IAM is unknown
The cost of data, information, and knowledge are often not recorded. Accounting standards do not
allow organisations to determine these costs, or the costs are too difficult to determine. Identified
costs usually relate to amounts associated with the acquisition, operation, and maintenance of an
information system. None of the research participants indicated that cost associated with the time
to interact with an Information Asset system to enter required data was determined. The CFO of
an automotive services company (P8) agreed that they do not cost and value their Information
Assets as they should, but added that he thinks they are slowly waking up to that. “But is it get-
ting the attention that it deserves? Yes, slowly. Is it top priority? No.”
The value of IAM is unknown
Organisations don't spend enough time thinking about the value and importance of Information
Assets. A CFO acknowledged that “like all organisations, we certainly struggle with it, and we
don't bring it to the surface and give it the level of resources that it would need to get that value
out. I think if we did understand the value then we'd change our thinking” (P8). This indicates a
gap in people's understanding of what drives value. P13 agreed that managers work on the basis
that these assets “will still be there tomorrow”. Organisations also do not have a way to measure
the value of data, information, and knowledge as it is so wide spread in email, Internet content,
policies and procedures, et cetera. P7 said “it's just wholesale across the business” and also added
that he does not know how people would go about capturing and valuing these assets and whether
there is a reliable method to do this.
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
The value of data, information, and knowledge is contextual
The value of data, information, and knowledge is temporally, managerially, and professionally
contextual. In terms of time, Participant 6 said that “there's something ephemeral about the assets
we have, if you can call them assets. Yesterday I had an asset. Today I have none. So it's very,
it's a very ephemeral asset to have” (P6). The value of data, information, and knowledge is also
contextual in terms of level in the organisation (level of seniority). Participant 11 is of the opinion
that information has to be interpreted at all the layers of the organisation, so it actually makes
sense to some of the people at the junior levels. Finally, the value of data, information, and
knowledge is contextual in terms of functional area in the business. Different groups and indi-
viduals have different views of information management. Participant 11 agreed that “the infor-
mation challenges that you meet really depend on the area where you operate from”.
The value of IA cannot be determined until a business is sold
A reason for the ineffective management of Information Assets is that the value of a business is
only determined when the business is sold (P6). The accounting system doesn’t allow a business
to value information on the balance sheet. Wilson and Stenson (2008) are of the opinion that
“one can argue with some conviction that what is not shown on an enterprise’s balance sheet (for
example morale of employees, purchase pre-disposition in the market place, managerial capabil-
ity, Information Assets) is of greater importance than that which is shown”. Participants indi-
cated that goodwill is an intangible asset and “you can’t put goodwill onto your balance sheet.
You only put it on there when you buy somebody else’s business” (P9).
The benefits of effective IAM are unknown
In his paper on Information Management, Oulton (1993) indicated that a stumbling block to the
introduction of Information Management into organisations is the poor recognition of its potential
benefits. According to him, as senior managers rely on tangible experience and common sense, it
is difficult to persuade them of any links between formal information management skills and or-
ganisational success. It is clear that businesses focus on the tangibles. The manager of a financial
institution focuses on “hard things that make the business work, such as sales, getting the prod-
ucts to market, collecting and investing the money and making sure it gets onto the books, as well
as managing expenses” (P17). The focus of a young organisation would be on growing more rap-
idly and initiatives that bring more business “rather than looking for benefits of intangibles”
(P14). Investors are mostly concerned with the bottom line and are, therefore, focused on reve-
nue and costs. Managers believe that they would be able to make better decisions and, therefore,
show a return on investment if they had certain pieces of information (P12). One manager (P8)
commented that “everybody in business understands they don't manage their Information Assets
well, but they don't know what the benefit is by actually managing them a lot better.” As an ex-
ample, an organisation had trouble justifying the investment in a data warehouse, as the business
people could not see the benefit of using the data warehouse and commented, “We're going to
spend all this money, pushing the data to the one position and one access point, but am I going to
be able to run the business any better? No one could see they could run the business any better,
so the data warehouse sort of fell apart.” (P8)
The benefits of IAM are intangible
The difficulty with Information Assets is the finite quantification of the benefits. Measuring the
benefits of Information Assets is not easy. The CKO of a utilities company said that she couldn't
find any hard benefits and “for the project to get off its legs at the time, I had to show hard bene-
fits” (P1). It is extremely hard to work at such a conceptual level because it requires “abstract or
conceptual thinking” (P11). An interesting comment from the CFO of a financial institution (P7)
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was that Myers Briggs research shows that a good three quarters of people are inherently sensing
(S) and judgemental (J) people, who care about hard facts and concrete data and who lack flexi-
bility. He added that “most people don't like what is nebulous, which is why they struggle with
these intangibles”. The CKO of a Government department (P3) has the view that organisations
are not good at measuring the benefit in dollar terms, but they can understand it “in reduction of
pain”. Measuring the benefits of tangible assets is easier, and shareholders look at the dollar val-
ues of physical assets, physical liabilities, and the generation of wealth. A board member articu-
lated it as follows, “You misappropriate $1 million and it comes out. You lose a truck, everyone
asks ‘where's the truck’? But this is nebulous” (P10).
On the other hand two organisations reported that they derived benefits from managing their In-
formation Assets. It was interesting that the manager of a financial services company (P7) indi-
cated that he wasn’t actually interested in doing benefits analysis, as the benefits were obvious
and that he does not want to “waste valuable resource time on justifying what is completely obvi-
ous anyway. Just by walking around the organisation I can see how people use the system and
how they can collaborate and work more effectively. I know the benefits have been realised be-
cause people are using the system on an every minute of the day basis”. In another organisation
the benefits were also visible and the manager commented that the success has been exponential.
“Success breeds success. As soon as people started gaining value out of the Information Assets,
they are very quick to find other opportunities within their immediate business environment, and
then it starts snowballing” (P12).
Benefits of IAM are inter-twined
Information and knowledge only assume value when they affect decision making and are trans-
lated into action to become a benefit to the organisation (De Long & Fahey, 2000). It is hard to
prove that you are managing information better than everybody else and put a value on that. Po-
tential purchasers would want to do due diligence and expect the firm to show how they manage
information better than anybody else (P9). If a business misses out on a job they can see that
clearly, but they cannot see the opportunity to make more profit on a job they did get. It is very
hard to measure and one would have to get inside the job and look at how people were working.
“Unless you are intimately involved you can't just pick up a piece of paper and tell that it was
clearly done inefficiently” (P2).
Benefits of IAM are difficult to crystallise
Managers often believe that there is significant value in information, but one participant asked,
“How do you wrap your arms around it and how do you give it value?” (P8). The problem goes
back to CFOs who want to know how much it is costing them behind the scenes, but also how
much more value they get out of the business by using Information Assets better. The cost and
return on investment of an information and knowledge management programme therefore have to
be justified to the organisational board. Management teams usually want to know what the return
in hard cash will be on what they will be spending. This is often impossible, as knowledge is an
intangible asset. Du Plessis (2008) indicates that none of the available models and measures of
hard return on investment has yet been accepted as a standard model in the world of information
and knowledge management. The return on investment will thus be defined in qualitative and
quantitative measures, which may be regarded as a barrier. Organisations that were interviewed
also do not determine the cost or benefits of managing Information Assets, although one Chief
Financial Officer (P8) indicated that they are “slowly waking up to that”. Despite this it is still not
getting the attention it deserves and it is certainly not top priority”.
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
Process view
Data, information, and knowledge contribute value to the business to the extent that they are often
the triggers of business processes. It is difficult to value the information itself – maybe it is the
value of the transaction that it triggers. The CIO of a finance firm (P14) commented that he has
difficulty trying to understand how he would value a piece of information coming in, in isolation
of the whole business process. The CIO of a government organisation indicated that they are be-
ginning to understand process and to see the value of process. “Rather than saying we're going to
drive it from an information perspective towards the process, we are driving from the process and
information is popping out” (P12).
In certain service industries it pays to be inefficient
The drive for efficiency in certain industries is profit margin and the pricing model does not force
them to minimise the time they spend doing a job. A participant from a law firm (P2) said that
until lawyers are forced to operate efficiently, they are actually rewarded for being disorganised.
“If I'm a lawyer, if it takes all day, that's all right. In fact, the longer it takes the better. There's
not a huge incentive to get super organised across the firm”. Effective information management
is also not critical in the consulting business, because they charge on a time materials type basis:
“So we're not always looking for the shortest route home” (P6).
IAM is not an interesting area
The management of information is not an interesting topic. Participant 3 said, “It’s a pretty dry
topic. I don't think most people really want to think about it, because it's pretty difficult. It's not
as tangible as hard assets like money.” The CIO of a local government organisation (P12) agreed
that “people do not read the information policy first thing in the morning. You don't see people
thinking that it is a beautiful piece of information. It's a hard sell.”
People have their own agendas
According to Martin et al. (1991) one of the most important barriers to the implementation of in-
formation management is the adoption of a proprietary attitude to information on the part of cer-
tain individuals and departments. People look at information as power and they are therefore re-
luctant to share it with others. Self-interest (what’s in it for me?) was also identified by the inter-
view participants as a barrier. People have their own agendas and most people in organisations
are only focused on survival. As a result they do not drive the business and make the best deci-
sions for the business. “It's all about their own agenda” (P13).
Risk management is seen as a burden
As information is seen as a corporate asset, there are opportunities in managing it well and risks
in managing it poorly. Organisations therefore need to understand where their risks lie and focus
on managing their assets. This requires organisations to understand where their Information As-
sets are held, just as they need to understand where their money is. The important issues will be
governance and clear accountabilities; cultural issues and staff training; capability of supporting
professionals; clarity and appropriateness of processes and procedures and supporting technical
infrastructure (Ceeney, 2009). The effective management of Information Assets therefore requires
appropriate enabling systems and practices. Ceeney (2009, p. 340) comments that organisations
understand financial issues and know how to respond “but our understanding of information is-
sues is weaker, and so are our responses. We seem scarily content with the technical solution, and
risk missing the fundamentals.”
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The CKO of a utilities company (P1) agreed that it is sometimes necessary to “go down the risk
route and start scaring them.” Maybe the crisis hasn’t happened, but here are some examples
where it's happened with other organisations and it has cost them dearly. She added that in their
organisation there are some risks that “if we don't fix them can potentially become costly.” The
only way in which she was able to convince the organisation that they needed to focus on their
records and information was to “go straight to the business risk guy and ask whether he realises
the risks that the organisation faces, based on the fact that we're not managing our records and our
information properly.” That was the turning point, as he understood the risks.
Whilst the management of risk is clearly a business driver, it also requires effort and enterprises
often see it as an administrative burden. Senior managers, who should be leading their organisa-
tions on a strategic level, often find that their days are being consumed with compliance activi-
ties. “You can see how frustrated he is and he has actually become quite aggressive about it”
(P12).
Governance
Lack of accountability
A lack of governance was identified as an important reason why organisations are not successful
in managing their Information Assets. Logan (2010) argues that the root of the problem with the
management of information is this lack of accountability, as the structure of an organisation often
does not include a role of Data-, Information- or Knowledge Manager. Clearly articulating the
accountability at all levels of the organisation will support the appropriate management of Infor-
mation Assets. The participant from a large bank indicated that there are varying opinions about
who is responsible and added “who is responsible hasn’t been nutted out of this organisation”
(P5).
Although some managers realise the need for such a role in the company, it has often not materi-
alised yet. The CEO of a large manufacturing company commented that they haven’t appointed
somebody in a Chief Information- or Chief Knowledge Officer position because of cost. He ac-
knowledged, “It's a pretty rudimentary view given the apparent value I place on information. It's
something we should do. How do I make an excuse for not doing that - it doesn’t seem sensible
does it?” (P9).
Level of the responsible person
The person who is accountable for the management of Information Assets is often not at the cor-
rect level to influence the strategy of the organisation; they are rarely on executive level where
their voice will be heard. According to Oulton (1993) representatives of diverse groups have all
laid claim to the field of information management as their own, e.g., managers, records managers
and archivists, computer science graduates, and data processing personnel, as well as librarians
and information scientists. In one of the organisations that was surveyed in this project, the re-
cords manager was responsible for the management of data, information, and knowledge, but the
CKO (P1) commented that he was not at the right level in the organisation to be heard; “he was
making noise, but he wasn't getting anywhere.” She added, “When I came on board I started regu-
lar meetings and communication. I had a group role as CKO, whereas he did not.”
The role of the CIO
It is often wrongly assumed that information is synonymous with IT. J. Robertson (2005) says
that, in many cases, ‘information management’ has meant deploying new technology solutions,
such as content or document management systems, data warehousing or portal applications.
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
However, IAM is much more than technology. It is about the business processes and practices
that underpin the creation and use of information and therefore people, process, and content must
be addressed if information management projects are to succeed (Ceeney, 2009). Logan (2010)
agrees that the Information Technology function owns the systems that are used to create and
store Information Assets. Their job is to manage information technology: hardware, software,
and networks. The business people who produce and use the information inherently know its
value and understand what contribution it makes to their part of the business. However, it is often
difficult to get business people to articulate their information needs. They do not wish to waste
their valuable time performing Information Asset Management tasks. In Logan’s words, “And so
the circular argument begins: it is not my job, IT should do it, by which they mean buy more
storage and get us that piece of magic software that will fix the problem once and for all” (Logan,
2010). Unfortunately IT has a poor track record of success.
In many of the organisations that were included in the study the responsibility for information and
knowledge management lies with the CIO. Added to this, the majority of the participants com-
mented that the CIO is not the right person as (s)he has a technical focus. Participant 1 com-
mented, “The CIO wasn't interested. His focus was on the technology element. His biggest issue
was speed and access, not managing the information and the content” (P1). Participant 3 agreed
that their CIO thinks about information holistically and that managing information it is not his
priority. One of the participating companies realised the need to bridge the gap between IT and
the rest of the business and they appointed bridging people, or business analysts to play this role.
“We have very technical people and the IT junkies, and we have someone that sat over the top
that has some strategic vision” (P8).
The role of the board
Board members are more focused on strategy and managing risk than on Information Asset Man-
agement. The Director of a number of boards (P6) indicated that – from a Director’s perspective –
data, information, and knowledge are invisible unless something goes wrong: “It's not on the ra-
dar. It's not considered to be a big enough risk. It's just not on the agenda.” He added that it is
difficult to educate boards, and unless the management team elevated the management of infor-
mation to the board level, it will probably not be done. According to Ceeney (2009) information
management is going to be a major issue on Board agendas for years to come, as they have a re-
sponsibility to manage their information as effectively as they do other assets. Boards need to
move away from the notion that IT will solve their problems. The real challenge is for Boards to
add Information Asset Management to their agenda and treat it the same way as they treat HR or
Finance. “We need to demystify Information Management and make it mainstream. And we need
to do it now” (Ceeney, 2009, p. 339).
Leadership and Management
Executive support is absent
The support of senior managers is crucial to create a culture of valuing and sharing Information
Assets. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is often the only one who takes an enterprise view of
the company, who cares about the overall performance, and who is concerned with creating sus-
tainable value. CEOs should think about data, information, and knowledge on a firm-wide basis
and these assets should be very important to them. Change needs a change champion, somebody
that's strong enough to pull an organisation through the low parts of the change cycle. That person
needs to be a visionary. It has to be an executive (P12).
Although executive support is crucial for putting effective governance and management of Infor-
mation Assets in place, it is often absent. The participant from a large bank experiences a lack of
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support from the top. “A challenge we have at the moment is trying to make sure that at the top
they’re actually putting the money where their mouth is. It’s not because they don’t want to or
that they don’t believe it, there are so many competing priorities” (P5). On the question of how
their Executive views the value of information and knowledge and how it should be managed,
participant 14 responded, “Real laissez-faire, I don't think it's something that gets discussed.” The
CKO of a government department (P3) agreed that executives sometimes understand that infor-
mation and knowledge is valued for purposes of improving efficiency and effectiveness of the
organisation but added, “Would they jump on a sword for that? No.”
On the other hand, the CEO of the financial services firm that implemented a strategy to manage
their Information Assets effectively has seen the benefits immediately, especially the ability to
store and retrieve emails (P7). Another participant (P3) also indicated that their CEO is suppor-
tive of the notion that knowledge is shared, as this would mean that customers will benefit.
Mistakes are not tolerated
Organisations should have a culture that learning and mistakes are good, because that's how peo-
ple learn. “If there is a culture of prosecution – if I'm wrong I'm going to be off with my head –
data, information, and knowledge will not be managed” (P12).
Managers create workarounds
According to Best (2010), the corporate information manager has to consider the extent to which
organisational structure matches the mission of the organisation as well as the pattern of informa-
tion processing in the company. An important aspect of Information Management is the extent to
which information is processed and distributed in the location where it will be most used, and the
frequency and complexity where information is shared between functions and/or processing sys-
tems. In reality it was found that managers get by on experience, which is why they don’t focus
on managing the Information Assets. P11 commented, “A blessing and a curse is that many of the
top management came through the ranks, so they know where the curve balls are, they know
where the efficiencies are, and they've learned to make do with those defects. That's how we got
so well through the crisis. As far as they're concerned, expert judgment or gut feel still goes a
long way to make this good.”
There are no rewards and recognition for managing information
assets
Unless there is accountability for the management of information, organisations will get sub op-
timal results. Participant 13 commented that people will manage their budget because they get
incentives according to the budget, so they drive it from that perspective. A Knowledge Manager
(P1) indicated that, instead of quantifying it from a hard benefit, she prefers to show and commu-
nicate back the success stories. “That’s how I try to prove value to the organisation. So every
time I hear that somebody saved some time by accessing a document that they didn’t have to redo
themselves, or finding a specialist really quickly on the intranet, or using one of our external re-
search tools to learn more about a client, I capture and communicate it back to the business.”
The organisation lacks Information Asset Management vision
What is limiting organisations seems to be the lack of vision and clarity about what they actually
need to try and become a better organisation. “The vision and insight does not exist. Organisa-
tions do not understand that if they invest 80 per cent more effort in Information Asset Manage-
ment they will see a return on their investment. “You get to your five year term of office and you
say, so what did we do the last five years? We were extremely busy but what did we actually
do? We did mostly maintenance” (P12).
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
Managers focus on information technology, not information
management
Organisations often spend too much on IT infrastructure and software and very little on data
management and quality. Managers often regard IT infrastructure problems as more critical than
information availability. A Knowledge Manager (P1) supported this by indicating that “the MD
just assumed that the work we wanted to do was a technical solution, so I've been very careful in
all the change communications to show that it's not.” Best (2010) agrees that it is information
which must be managed, rather than the technology. Processes must be in place to ensure the data
is clean and that nothing is entered that may contaminate the data. Processes should exist to
document tacit knowledge and ensure the data obtained will support decision making and con-
tribute to competitive advantage.
Lack of discipline in managing information as an enterprise asset
The data, documents, content, and knowledge of an organisation is an enterprise asset but it is
often not managed as such. Internal information is often managed in silos. In a large manufactur-
ing firm (P9) the manufacturing general manager owns his internal valuable information while
the CFO of an automotive services company (P8) commented that they are a classic siloed or-
ganisation with limited sharing of information between departments. This situation is currently
changing: “We're now recognising that we need to do that now in a better way, and we are creat-
ing our library and bringing the business together and sharing information a lot more than what
we ever did.”
Data, information, and knowledge are stored everywhere on people’s hard drives and in legacy
systems. Some of the information is stored on old servers that have been archived and some is
kept in various places on various servers in the company. It is stored electronically, in hard copy,
in different physical places and accessed by different computers on the site. The information is
not coordinated and collated or centralised at all, both with regard to historical data and current
data. According to the CKO of a government department it is also a massive challenge for their
organisation, “because we've got buckets of information everywhere. We've got Access databases
all over the place; we've got people with 20 years’ worth of work stuck in an email box or on a
disk, with masses of information in their personal drives, just because they've never been told not
to put their information there.” The information is completely isolated from anyone. “It can't be
shared, it can't be found. If they leave all the work they’ve done is sitting on a P drive some-
where”. (P3)
As the organisational culture embodies all the unspoken norms, or rules, also regarding the distri-
bution of knowledge, the culture actually dictates what knowledge belongs to the organisation
and what knowledge remains in control of individuals or sub-units. It is a natural inclination for
people not to collaborate or share, and integrating knowledge into the firm and getting people to
contribute and share knowledge is a real challenge. De Long and Fahey (2000, p. 118) argue that
knowledge sharing is “often compromised, if not completely sacrificed, at the altar of norms and
practices that advocate and reinforce the supremacy of individual knowledge.” Participant 2
agreed during the interview: “They are managing it between themselves, but no one else can get
to it.”
Resistance to change
People resist change. A Knowledge Manager (P3) commented that it is not part of people’s mind-
set to think about how information could be used elsewhere by others. “That's the culture shift ...
which is a massive barrier. I think that's almost a generational change.” The managing partner of
a legal firm (P2) experienced tremendous resistance when he tried to move the company to e-
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files. He added, “It was extraordinary as we're only talking about three years ago, not ten years
ago. There was an incredible amount of glue between the lawyers and their hard copy files.” Par-
ticipant 12 mentioned that, if managers say that they are going to put data, information, and
knowledge management in place, different parts of the organisation react differently: “The opera-
tional staff said we're already so under pressure, demand exceeds our capacity tenfold, now you
just want to create another stick to hit us over the head with. The guys in the middle said that if
you create more work, it will create additional activity that will assume effort and they'd rather
use that effort to do real work. The guys at the more senior management, upper management, sat
there very quietly. They were looking at this with a lot of suspicion and thinking they should
make sure this thing dies quickly. We'll find a way of throttling it.”
Enabling Systems and Practices
Business language is imprecise
An important challenge of managing data, information, and knowledge in organisations is that
there is no standard language and glossary of terms. Outside of the organisation, but even within
the organisation, it is a challenge to get everybody to speak the same language in terms of data
governance and data management technique (P5).
Accounting practices do not account for data, information and
knowledge
Traditional accounting ratios have not been able to measure intangible assets. Participants agreed
that data, information, and knowledge are of value to the company, but indicated that, under the
accounting rules and various other traditional practices, they are not formally accounted for and
reported on the balance sheet unless it is a really substantial activity. No participants indicated
that any of the tools for measuring intellectual capital that are mentioned in literature (Nafukho,
2009), namely knowledge ratio, return on knowledge assets, or training expenses per employee,
are used in their organisations. A possible explanation why organisations do not use knowledge
ratios is that anything that is considered an asset has to be reflected by the organisations’ end-of-
year financial statements. Organisations with more knowledge workers would therefore have to
pay more tax on their knowledge assets (Nafukho, 2009). The problem is that “if the accounting
systems don’t create the ability to value information, then businesses won’t either” (P9).
Technology shortcomings
IT departments are notorious for making promises they cannot keep. One manager commented
that “they're like the car salesman who's basically saying, you'll never have a problem. Well, it's
just nonsense, eventually you will” (P8). A Knowledge Manager commented on the restrictions
of technology in their firm. Their biggest challenge is the size of their documents. “A lot of our
design intelligence is image based. We can have files that could be as large as a hundred mega-
bytes” (P1). The manager of an HR recruitment company (P6) said that they have a database sys-
tem that does not really work, as well as inadequate software: “It's clunky, it's slow, it's exces-
sively manual in its data input and so forth. We can visualise a system that would be better but
we don't know quite where to find it. It's hard to buy stuff that you don't know much about be-
cause you're worried that you're going to make a mistake. Business owners are worried about
spending a lot of money on something that might actually be worse than what they've got because
you hear stories of people doing just that.” Rego, Pinho, Pedrosa, & Pina (2009) comment that
some technologies are not barriers per se, but become so because individuals have unrealistic ex-
pectations about them.
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Barriers to the Effective Deployment of Information Assets
In summary, the barriers to the effective management of Information Assets, as identified by the
literature review and empirical research is shown in Figure 1.
AWARENESS
Problem is not recognised
No formal Secondary and
Tertiary e ducation
Limited informal on-the-job
training and induction
Organisation immaturity
LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT
Lack of executive suppor t
Mistakes not tolerated
Manager workarounds
IM practices neither
rewarded nor punished
No IM V ision
IT seen as a panacea and IM
is ignored
Information not managed
as an enterprise asset
Resistance to change
GOVERANCE
Lack of appropriate
responsibility and
accountability
Level of the responsible
person
Board does not understand
IAM
CIO has a t echnical f ocus
Lack of measurement
JUSTIFICATION
Lack of a catalyst including
crises, business changes
and compliance
Compliance and risk are
burdensome
Other priorities prevail
Cost, value and benefi t of
Information Assets
unknown
The value of information is
contextual
Benefits are intangible,
intertwined and difficult t o
crystallise
Process v iew
Inefficiency is reward ed
IM is not an interesting
topic
ENABLING SYSTEMS & PRACTICES
Language imprecise
Accounting practices
incapable of handling IAs
Technology shortc omings
and poor IT reputation
Figure 1: Barriers to the deployment of Information Assets
Summary and Conclusions
One of the important responsibilities of Managing Directors, Chief Executive Officers, and Man-
aging Partners is to effectively deploy the assets and resources of their organisations. The assets
they deploy are Physical Assets, comprised of plant and equipment, buildings, office furniture,
and computer hardware and software; Human Assets, their people; Financial Assets, their work-
ing capital and annual budget; and Information Assets which constitute the rest of the organisa-
tion and include data, documents, content, and knowledge. Information Assets are becoming cru-
cial for organisations’ competitiveness and growth. Companies need to be able to earn economic
returns from Information Assets (Bismuth & Tojo, 2008) and their effective management should
be a topic of vital interest to the senior leadership of most organisations. Boards and senior man-
agement are well-versed in taking good care of their physical, financial, and human assets, but
evidence is mounting that Information Assets are being neglected.
Physical, Human, and Financial Assets are effectively deployed through application of appropri-
ate governance and management, structure, and tools. Organisations typically have a Chief Fi-
nancial Officer, financial experts, and managers with delegated authority who use the framework
of a Chart of Accounts to allocate expenditure and use tools including a Balance Sheet and In-
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come Statement with which they manage and report on the deployment of their Financial Assets.
Similarly, organisations often have a Director of HR and officers with line management responsi-
bility, the framework of an organisation chart, and tools including roles and responsibilities
statements and Key Performance Indicators by which they manage the deployment of those Hu-
man Resources. People responsible for Physical Assets include Plant Managers, Directors of
Corporate Services or Property and IT Managers who use the frameworks of Asset Registers and
IT Architectures, and tools including depreciation schedules and capital works and maintenance
programmes. The findings of this research supported the literature that hardly any mechanisms
are in place for the management of Information Assets. There are rarely governance structures in
place with a single Chief Information Officer who is not only responsible but accountable for
how that information is managed.
As money and information are both acknowledged as vital corporate assets, it is important to
know why information is managed differently at enterprise level. Many organisations do not
have a precise and accurate description down to the level of discrete and unique activity of ex-
actly what they do. Furthermore, they do not know what data, documents, content, and knowl-
edge are deployed in the conduct of those activities. In many organisations each individual man-
ages his or her own information and few people know where critical information resides, who has
access to it, and how long they keep it. There is usually no Information Chart of Accounts to en-
sure that enterprise information is managed with the same rigour as its money. It is therefore dif-
ficult to develop a framework by which Information Assets can be allocated and managed in the
same manner as other vital assets are managed via a Chart of Accounts or Organisation Chart.
Whilst they recognise that data, information, and knowledge are vital to their operation, organisa-
tions do not know how to identify, cost, value, manage, and realise the benefits of their Informa-
tion Assets. Many organisations regard the cost of managing information and knowledge as
equivalent to the combined cost of hardware, software, maintenance, support, upgrades, tele-
communications, and IT staff salaries, i.e., the cost of procuring and managing the infrastructure,
but they don’t take into account the time that is spent managing information. Organisations don’t
apply either an absolute or relative value to their Information Assets and certainly don’t account
for them on the Balance Sheet unless at time of sale of the organisation. Few organisations im-
plement a formal benefits realisation programme to measure the return on investment of their In-
formation Asset Management initiatives.
The qualitative research reported here represents an investigation into the barriers to the man-
agement of Information Assets. A limitation of this type of investigation is the small number of
research participants. However, interviews were conducted until theoretical saturation was at-
tained and no new themes emerged from the interviews.
Future research should address the shortcoming articulated above and subsequent investigations
could also delve further into reasons for the lack of progress in managing Information Assets and
how this situation may be addressed by deriving quantifiable benefits from IAM. Future research
can also include an international perspective. A framework for effective deployment of data, in-
formation, and knowledge assets in organisations can be developed to address the barriers to the
effective management of Information Assets identified in this paper.
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Biographies
Dr. Nina Evans has extensive experience in Higher Education in vari-
ous positions, such as Senior Lecturer, Head of Department and Vice
Dean. Currently she is the Associate Head of School (Teaching and
Learning) in the School of Computer and Information Science (CIS) at
UniSA. She teaches in the areas of ICT Leadership, Business Informa-
tion Systems, Management, Knowledge Management and E-business.
Nina holds tertiary qualifications in Chemical Engineering, Education
and Computer Science, a Masters in Information Technology, an MBA
and a PhD in Organisational Behaviour. She has been involved in di-
verse research projects in the fields of Knowledge Management, Busi-
ness-IT fusion, Corporate Social Responsibility, ICT Education, Per-
sonal and Professional Skills for ICT professionals, Technology for
Business Enhancement and Women in ICT. She has published extensively in international jour-
nals and delivered presentations at numerous international conferences.
James Price is the Managing Director of Experience Matters, a firm of
business advisers in the management of data, information and knowl-
edge. James has previously held the positions of Chair and Executive
Director of Para//elo, a cross-cultural performance company, Group
Managing Director of AMS Holdings incorporating Australian Medical
Services, C2 and Reach100 and Managing Director of Reach100, a
preventative health services company. James holds a Bachelor of Eco-
nomics from the University of Adelaide.
... Senior managers and boards are accountable and responsible for effectively deploying the assets and resources of their organisations. These assets consist of financial (working capital and annual budget), physical (equipment, buildings, office furniture, computer hardware and software), human and information assets (IAs), which Evans and Price (2012) define as all data, documents, content and knowledge. Research has proven that the wealth-creating capacity of organisations is no longer based on tangible assets alone, but that the IAs are critical to every business activity, every business process and every business decision of every organisation (Freeze & Kulkarni, 2007;Jhunjhunwala, 2009;Salamuddin, Bakar, Ibrahim, & Hassan, 2010;Wilson & Stenson, 2008). ...
... Despite the increased understanding of the value of information and the business benefits of improved IAM, research (Evans & Price, 2012;Logan, 2010) shows that these assets are often not managed effectively, because of a lack of accountability and unenforced responsibility. Limited research has been done on the reasons why IAs are not https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2020.102193 ...
... Higson and Waltho (2009) agree that, although IAs are hard to account for, they have significant potential benefits and "just because intangibles cannot be counted on the balance sheet does not mean that they do not count and should not be counted". A focus on business benefit is especially applicable to enterprise information where the cost of information is often high and there is a growing need to justify such costs by regarding information as a strategic and important business asset (Evans & Price, 2012). ...
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Organisations increasingly realise that they must transform into true digital enterprises to create competitive advantage and ensure corporate survival. However, many organisations do not realise that successful digital transformation (DT) requires much more than technology; it can only succeed if they manage their data, information and knowledge as true business assets. This paper describes collaborative research conducted by academic and industry partners, a mutually beneficial journey spanning the past ten years. The aim was to develop a Holistic Information Asset Management (HIAM) model indicating the important areas of information asset management (IAM) that support the DT journey. Interviews were conducted with C-level executives in organisations from all industries on three continents to investigate their IAM practices, the barriers to good IAM and the benefits of managing information assets (IAs) well. This paper proposes that organisations should focus on ten domains in their quest for effective IAM: i) business benefits, ii) business environment, iii) executive awareness, iv) leadership and management, v) information environment, vi) information systems, vii) information behaviour, viii) information attributes/quality, ix) information performance and x) justification.
... The worker's relaxed state may be affected by high amounts of communication and information management at work [28] where workers' communication skills are influenced by their leader's leadership as well as cultural beliefs [29,30]. During the work, information management is high due to two factors: leadership and environmental resources [31,32]. ...
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Self-awareness emotional intelligence symptoms will be unavoidable in the job. These symptoms are generally regarded as acceptable by certain standards, as they are an important part of keeping people informed (or commonly known as situational awareness). However, the most recent research focuses on external components of situational awareness aspects and lacks adaptable methods to deal with the individual's situational awareness dynamics. This study investigated the use of an agent-based modeling strategy for situational awareness in the workplace. It focuses on environmental and personal factors that influence the level of situational awareness at work in a dynamic way. The outcomes included a range of scenarios that corresponded to various personality traits and environmental conditions. Finally, equilibria analysis and automated logical verification were employed to evaluate this computational model in order to check whether there were any conceptual defects, as indicated in the literature. The suggested computational agent-based model has shown rational behavior patterns that are consistent with existing psychology literature on situational awareness in the workplace.
... Such a 'knowledge focus' relates to culture, values, and organisational structure. The organisational structure must support the organisation to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time [22]. Social norms such as openness and teamwork-where cooperation is fundamental-are key characteristics of knowledge intensive organisations [5]. ...
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... Evans et al. (2018: 57) found that junior doctors believe IKM is almost their entire role and that their job is "99% information gathering and 1% what decisions you make from that information". Information and knowledge are often not accessed, used and managed effectively (Evans & Price, 2012). The adverse impact of ineffective IKM is very evident in health care environments. ...
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... Some of them were associated more with the people and culture of an organization, such as lack of communication, knowledge-sharing initiatives, and proficiency and motivation [7]. While others, [8], debated that the barriers relate mostly to the incompetent organizational management and leadership, organization culture, oblivion towards costs, value, and benefits. However, to overcome all, regardless of their grounds, data, and information needed to be recognized as fundamental assets to day-to-day operations. ...
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The Long Interview provides a systematic guide to the theory and methods of the long qualitative interview or intensive interviewing. It gives a clear explanation of one of the most powerful tools of the qualitative researcher. The volume begins with a general overview of the character and purpose of qualitative inquiry and a review of key issues. The author outlines the four steps of the long qualitative interview and how to judge quality. He then offers practical advice for those who commission and administer this research, including sample questionnaires and budgets to help readers design their own. The author introduces key theoretical and methodological issues, various research strategies, and a simple four-stage model of inquiry, from the design of an open-ended questionnaire to the write up of results.
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'Tomer extends and deepens his original formulation of intangible capital, providing an analytical framework for better understanding macro and microeconomic phenomenon and why and how society and individuals fall below potential. A key strength of Tomer's approach is that he broadens traditional economic analyses, demonstrating how both theory and one's insights into socio-economic reality can be enriched by integrating often difficult to formulize concepts into our modeling framework. Tomer provides us with a challenging and important contribution to economic analysis, enticing us to explore the important types of capital that have for too long been locked out of the economist's toolbox.'
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Understanding sources of sustained competitive advantage has become a major area of research in strategic management. Building on the assumptions that strategic resources are heterogeneously distributed across firms and that these differences are stable over time, this article examines the link between firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Four empirical indicators of the potential of firm resources to generate sustained competitive advantage-value, rareness, imitability, and substitutability are discussed. The model is applied by analyzing the potential of several firm resources for generating sustained competitive advantages. The article concludes by examining implications of this firm resource model of sustained competitive advantage for other business disciplines.
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The increasing liberalization of markets coupled with the creation of new markets for intermediate products is stripping firm-level competitive advantage back to its fundamental core: difficult to create and difficult to imitate intangible assets. This article explores these developments and elucidates implications for the management of intellectual capital inside firms.