Monday, December 10, 2007

Information Governance 2.0 - a new SEO role

SEO/SEM/SMO/SMM professionals have the obligation to their customers to help them manage not only their online "presence", from an awareness and popularity perspective, but also to manage their actual online inventory of content and information. The discipline of "Content Management" and broader "Information Management", of which SEO is a subset, is the discipline that more large and small customers should be focused on, with our help. Many in fact are, but with the increasing distribution of online content in and out of social media domains, the need for application of "Information Governance" techniques (i.e. the control and decision-making processes around management of information and data) is ever more pressing. Information Governance should always be an upsell of SEO professionals, and it's even more important with the broad Web 2.0 adoption of our clients.

Among Information Technology practitioners and those managing IT systems and budgets, the phrase “Data Governance” isn’t new – though return on investment from its application may not yet be realized. Data Governance includes the myriad processes, organization structures, reference models and standards the help mitigate risk and maximize return from use of data assets. Data assets include actual, physical data and the technology used to manage it, along with the models, representations, metadata and documentation that describe how to manage and use it. The term “information” assigns some level of trust, contextual relevance and packaging definitions to data – therefore, since current social networking philosophies are grounded in information-sharing practices among persons and systems, “Information Governance” is a phrase most appropriate to use in Web 2.0 (or “Enterprise 2.0”) context. Quite obviously, the practice of information-sharing in collaborative settings leads to knowledge; management and governance of “knowledge” is a separate discussion.

By far the most important element of Information Governance is the “Information Steward”. That is, the person (or people) who are most directly assigned or invested in maintaining the value of a company or government’s information assets. The information steward, focused typically on a particular topic, process or line-of-business domain, has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the right decisions are made regarding management of the information. Stewards don’t necessarily create or use the information, they protect its value and integrity. In many organizations, this responsibility is typically (a) unassigned, as a matter of corporate policy and (b) adopted primarily by the IT community, meaning roles such as DBAs, System Administrators or Report Analysts.

A broad definition of “Web 2.0” as an information management domain is one that focuses on the creation and use of web-enabled information that spans the public/private institutional boundaries and includes voluntary, unmanaged submissions by virtual interest groups. So, in this definition, “information management” becomes a bit of an oxymoron – the information isn’t really managed across the entire stakeholder community, and can’t be. It can be governed, however, if an acceptable definition of “governance” is the consensual framework and set of standard resources leveraged for decision-making with respect to explicit risks, value, use and manipulation of specific information types.

Note how quickly in discussing Web 2.0 information that the need arises to categorize, in several dimensions, specific information that can or should be governed. Typical Web Content Management systems manage all web content – information management systems or policies can attempt to cover all information only within very restrictive information management and sharing boundaries. Web 2.0 philosophies don’t include restrictive information boundaries; in fact the opposite is true, that unrestrictive information boundaries are the catalyst for Web 2.0 value. Unrestrictive boundaries don’t mean un-governed boundaries, however, and governance of information-sharing boundaries for particular categories of information useful to a defined, though virtual, stakeholder community is absolutely required for enterprises who have accepted the Web 2.0 opportunity.

Ultimate success in leveraging Web 2.0-enabled tools and participants in the information management processes can not be guaranteed. Success can and must be facilitated by Information Governance 2.0 procedures, policies and defined roles. This kind of socially-aware and information-without-borders approach will result in mitigation of risks around sharing of sensitive information and management of spending priorities.

An SEO/SEM professional is a great candidate to be an Information Steward, and promote or help guide Information Governance objectives for the benefit of our client's IT investment strategy and ultimate business outcomes.

...Let us know if you'd like more information about this topic; we're happy to help.



Blogger Elise's Avonym said...

Thanks to Upclick Marketing for their recent comment....

"You're making some very important and timely points here. I read last night how a prominent and successful west coast credit union had "mishandled" a member's account information and CU member representatives denied any wrongdoing to the member. The ex CU member purchased a domain name with the credit union’s name included in the domain, and proceeded to write endless blogs about how bad the credit union was in handling the ex member’s account and contact information. Meanwhile, the ex member’s new domain got higher results on search engine results than the credit union. All the while, the credit union was oblivious because they had no “steward” of their online presence.

I suspect like many financial institutions, they treat their website as an operational cost and nothing more. Web 2.0 is going to fundamentally change what an “online presence” means for companies no matter their size. Actually…it already is."

December 12, 2007 at 4:22 PM  

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