With the rapid development of science and technology, Information management plays a more and more significant role in organizations. Since the good and quality information can improve decision making and enhance efficiency, which makes company have more competitiveness in the market, exploring effective means of managing information become a necessary assignment to any organization. This article aims to provide an overall understanding of information management in organizations from both positive and negative aspects. Therefore, the structure follows: the definition and development process of information management(IM), the importance of IM to an organization, negative effects of inefficient IM system and the future prospect of IM.
1.1 Definition of Information management
Although information management is regarded as a relatively young discipline of the modern science, there are various meanings and interpretations among different constituencies. According to Choo (2002), Information management is a process that acquire, create, organize, distribute and use information. Likewise, Wilson (2002) defines that “Information management refers to planning, organizing, directing and controlling information within an open system, and the use of technology and techniques for effective management of information and knowledge resources and assets within the organizational internal and external environment to gain competitive advantage and to improve performance.” Also, the US Government
Accountability Office pointed out that information management means planning, budgeting, manipulating, and controlling information throughout its lifecycle. The goal of the information management is to satisfying information needs of managers as well as transport useful data to relevant persons at the right time.
1.2 The development process of Information Management
Although the term “Information Management” does not appear for a long time, it has been used for various research as well as practical information managers in different organizations. According to the Davenport (1993), “the conceptualization of information management is coming from a process perspective.” The development of the terminology can broadly divide into three main phases along with some other minor exploration and investigation.
The first period represents the establishing process of the term. It was R.S. Taylor and his colleagues who firstly use “Information Management” in the 1960s which applied to indicate effective use of technical hard systems where hard means those systems can be described by known algorithms. There is an approach called “engineering effectiveness”, a system approach in engineering information operation and teaching. In the 1970s, this approach was connected to data processing that using information systems and information and communication technology. The second period starting from the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s. The term “Information management” gradually attracted more and more public attention and awareness especially experts in the information technology field. Those experts focused on improvement and operation by transforming the methods and processes. Literal understanding, the term not only includes information but also concerns management indicating “the effective consumption of labor in informatics and its management in this context”. In the third period, there are more and more experts and specialists emphasize and recognize the importance of management. Although professional people in various fields focus on different aspects, they reach an agreement that information management plays a significant role no matter in what types of organizations and companies (Kern, 2001). Supported by information process, managers are able to obtain and manage useful information effectively.
Choo (2002) pointed out six discrete information related processes or activities that need to be managed: “identification of information needs; acquisition of information to address those needs; organization and storage of information; design and development of information products; distribution of information; information use.” The timescale is also vital in order to meet the information need, represented by data logistics. Data logistic means that right and relevant data should be delivered to the right person at the right time. As a result, effective information management is bound up with data logistics quality.
2. The importance of Information Management in organizations
Information management has a great impact on the organization performance. For an enterprise, there are tens of thousands of horizontal and vertical information flows within it. Information management is able to control those flows to improve efficiency and allow the organization obtaining greater advantages in the market competition. An effective information management system can not only function as strategic resources but also provide a strong support for information sharing and decision makings.
Information management process consists six parts as mentioned above: creation, acquisition, organization, storage, distribution and use. Creation happens from the internal environment when the organization generates information while acquisition means obtain information from the external environment. Organization and storage classified information and store them in a database like relational database or non-relational database. Disseminating, transporting and sharing information is the process of distribution and then information can be exploited for various purposes. Based on the process, in this article, three mainly positive aspects of the information management in organizations will be discussed.
2.1 The foundation role of Information management
Firstly, effective information management is the fundamental of organization management since it controls the full life cycle of information processes. From creation, storage and finally use for the betterment of the organization itself, IM build a foundation for organization management. Without this foundation, the organization could not manage people, equipment, and capital effectively.
Information management is not just managing data such as raw facts stored in transactional databases, but manage the whole processes from raw data to information. Raw data in an organization can be order quantity, product price and transaction numbers those data that can reflect raw facts while information organizes and convert raw data into a meaningful and useful context. A common example would be from the transaction databases, information that has been summarized is extracted and stored in a data warehouse in order to support decision making, provide patterns and trends for the operational process (Baltzan et al., 2008). However, if information cannot be managed effectively, unstructured data is just the superposition of numbers, figures or tables, cannot be regarded as information resources and therefore cannot be applied into various business objectives. Therefore, structured information regarded as strategic resources can be managed effectively and become a solid foundation for organizations.
2.2 The important role of IM in information sharing
Secondly, one of the most significant goals for information management is information sharing. Paying more attention to information management can promote the implementation of sharing culture, which will also improve the comprehensive competition of an organization.
The Organization can easily obtain information from various departments. For instance, a firm could obtain information about planning, sourcing, making and delivering through the whole supply chain so that they can share information together for their own goals. Ketzenberg et al. (2013) pointed out that “the value of information sharing can range from 0 to 30% profit increase.” Information sharing cannot only help different departments make better decisions, but also create values for the whole organization. On one hand, with this platform, members could communicate with each other effectively. Take supply chain as an example, members in supply chain aim to collaborated in order to achieve efficiency, cost saving and profits creation. According to a survey by Chen (2003), there are more than 61% firms believe that information sharing is essential for business success. Similarly, Huo et al. (2013) found out that the performance of supply chain is positively correlated with information sharing facing international SC competition.
On the other hand, information sharing allows members to form smaller groups around shared interests (Boon, et.al, 2015). For some companies, they build a combined database to share business information so that the members of the association could take advantage that information and promote their development together. Because of an efficient information management system, a platform can be built to promote development.
2.3 The important role of IM in decision making
Thirdly, effective information management can help managers make decisions. Managers in the business organizations regularly seek information to perform various managerial tasks (Lueg, 2001). Also, they need quality information to help them make decisions so that they can achieve goals, improve services and productivity.
Although some decisions in business are not quite difficult, sometimes it is not easy for managers to make the right decision, especially when facing an accelerating change or in a complex business environment, which has a high-level uncertainty (Lucey, 2005). Regularly, managers can use various information resources from the external environment such as journals, newspaper, report, research article, online database and other internet sources. Also, they obtain information form internal environment such as information from customers, market fluctuations and previous reports (Karim, 2004).
Based on that information with various formats, managers could achieve business goals and objectives. For instance, collected Information is valuable for several sections in supply chain management such as production, cost control, and inventory management. Based on different time scales, long-term or short-term, there are various information resources available. In terms of long-term scale, previous information can be efficiently used to predict the change and development of market demand according to causal relationships, finding varying patterns through analyzing direct or indirect contributory factors, and then determining the predicted values based on the pattern. For medium or short terms, efficient information along with other analyzing techniques can become resources for demand forecasting. (Rey, T., & Wells, C.,2012).
3. Negative Effects of Inefficient Information management
Admittedly, efficient information management is not only the foundation of business management but create a platform for information sharing and support managers make decisions. Nonetheless, there are some negative effects in the process.
On one hand, due to the convenience of information sharing, Information Security become another issue that needs to be considered. For instance, in a service-oriented enterprise, the database includes personal information of customers that may have been disclosed to others for a specific purpose. The usage of personal information and some ethical questions like who has access to personal information or under what kind of condition can the information be accessed sometimes is difficult to delimit. Safa and Ismail (2013) pointed out that information security issue can cause financial costs for a organization and even affect the reputation of organizations. With public pay more and more attention to the reputation of an organization, if personal information is disclosed without the permission, the prestige and trustworthiness may decline greatly. For an enterprise, it will lose a large number of Loyal customers and potential customers. Thus, information security issues closely related to corporate reputation, public trust, economic interests and thus have a great effect on the external competitiveness in the market.
Even, whether specific information can be collected or whether information obtained for on specific purpose can be applied to another purpose are some issues relating to the information security. Besides, for business association who share information together, the security issue becomes more serious. Normally, when a business decides whether to cooperate with another business, if there is some issue related to information security, it may become hard to survive in the environment today, which will cause enterprises at a disadvantage stage in the market. Therefore,
Without an efficient information management, it is difficult for business to survive in the competitive climate.
On another hand, with so many information obtained from the internal and external environment every day, there may have information overload problem since there is too many information. Due to the numerous information, it becomes more difficult to obtain effective information quickly, which make managers on decision making to some extent. Recent research shows that every industry can be affected to some extent by information overload, especially for some industry being increasingly affected by this issue. There is survey conducting in Australia, Hong Kong, the United States that 124 managers believe too much information is one of the most difficulties reasons during the decision-making process except difficulty information mange issue, irrelevance or poor quality information and information understanding (Farhoomand and Drury, 2002).
Also, another study about healthcare services pointed similar issues that planners and managers have difficulty to make decision when there are too little or too much information. Four major factors include information insufficiency, information overload, capacity deficiency and inefficient information management (Bowen et al. ,2009). Besides, the reason why information overload may become a barrier in decision making is that various information may lead to a different result. For instance, supply chain manager may need various information from each department such as planning and sourcing. However, information may not lead to a same conclusion. Since it is difficult to have a one hundred percent guarantee, managers should consider more to obtain a better decision.
4. Future Trends
For the future development of information management, more efficient management technology should be applied so that the whole processes of information management from obtaining information to use information become more efficient and convenience. At the same time, improve information security is also a significant task in the future. Firstly, establishing information security management system so that regularizing and standardizing the process. Secondly, incorporating secure practices into key business and IT processes, implementing sound information, leak management and information access management strategies for the enterprise. Thirdly, being sensitive to any threaten that may attack internal or external environment.
Traditional, there is no doubt that technology is a decisive factor in the information management. Nonetheless, information management is not just a technology problem, but related more on people. To achieve a safe information sharing environment, the focuses should not only the information techniques that manage business activities, but more attention should be paid on human behavior that add content, meaning and value information as well as behavior of customers, people and organizations. Obviously, it is a tremendous challenge for the development of information management in the future.