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The pandemic has changed business practices forever: Good governance is required

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By James Price, Managing Director,  Experience Matters

  • Changing business practices engender risk.
  • Risk is both positive, providing opportunity, and negative, creating danger.
  • Exploiting and / or mitigating risk requires good information. Good information requires governance, management and corporate discipline.

Implement best practice information governance or prepare for greater risk

  1. The only way to mitigate business risk is through the creation and use of good quality information. How can you stop the spread of COVID if you can’t trace contacts? How can you rebuild a production plant after an explosion if you can’t find the drawings? How can you defend litigation if you can’t find the information you need? How can you keep the business going if your best people take their corporate wisdom and go to a competitor?


  1. The only way to drive business outcomes is to make good decisions. The only way to make good decisions is to have access to good quality, reliable information. Who thinks you can make good decisions on bad data?
  2. The only way to have good information is to ensure that the creators and users of information name, file, store, share, dispose of it in a way that is consistent and contributes to a single source of truth. This is about establishing good corporate behaviours. Who thinks they can find the information they need if they don’t know if it is held in Teams or SharePoint or OneDrive or Objective or a business system or email or in their personal files? Most organisations operate like this. Would we treat our Financial Assets this way? “Hey CFO, where’s that million dollars?” “I don’t know. It must be in a draw or a cupboard somewhere.”
  3. The only way to have good corporate behaviours is to have good governance (oversight and control) and good management (ownership and responsibility). Management of information is a personal responsibility – not the responsibility of IT like most organisations think. Does your Chief Legal Counsel (CLC) know more about the practice of law than IT does? You’d hope so. Does (s)he know more about what data, information, knowledge and wisdom is required to practice law than IT does? Does (s)he care more about the quality of that data, information and knowledge than IT does? Who thinks IT can guarantee high quality data? What is IT measured on? Throughput, uptime, cost management and perhaps usability? Not on data quality? Then why on earth would you give the responsibility of managing this critical business asset to IT?

Most organisations don’t think their data, information and knowledge is valuable enough to manage well. According to Ocean Tomo, in 1974 the value of the S&P 500’s Intangible Assets, of which Information Assets comprise the majority, contributed 17% of its market value. As of June 2020, it is 90%. If we don’t think we are living in the information economy, and if we don’t think our data, information and knowledge is a critical business asset and enabler, we had better think again. Still not convinced? How would your organisation operate without it?

Most organisations think they manage their Information Assets well. They don’t. Think about how you manage your Financial Assets. Think about the framework you use, your Chart of Accounts which enables every item of expenditure to be recorded in one place and one place only. Think about the well-understood instruments you use to manage those Financial Assets, your Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Cash Flow Analysis. Think about your carefully delegated financial authority and who can spend what money for what purpose in what time frame. And think about the accountability imposed upon your Chief Financial Officer who will be sacked if (s)he mismanages the money and jailed if (s)he misappropriates it. Now, in the same way, think about how you manage your Information Assets. Now ask yourself, what would your organisation would look like if you managed your money the same way as you manage your information?”

The pandemic has changed work practices forever

The pandemic has created significant implications in:

  1. remote working; and
  2. creating uncertainty and dynamism in the business environment.

With regard to working remotely, the “Great Resignation” is a real thing. PWC’s Hopes and Fears study 2021 of 32,000 respondents in 19 countries found that only 9% of those who can work remotely want to go back to a traditional commute and work environment full time and 19% would be happy to not return to an office at all and work entirely remotely. Remote working has increased business risk in the areas of:

  1. workplace health and safety. The kitchen table is often ergonomically unsatisfactory. Working from home creates a range of mental health concerns from the loneliness of disconnection with one’s work colleagues to the family friction caused by too many people and too much noise in the home-based work environment. And work can be inefficient from too many home distractions;
  2. information security which is compromised as people who are working from home without sophisticated protection are more vulnerable to malicious cyber-attacks. And corporate discipline can be compromised by staff lending their work computers to family members or storing corporate information on home computers;
  3. information technology in which organisations were unprepared for the volumes of network traffic that remote working created and / or the infrastructure simply didn’t work. Moreover, most organisations are running software environments that favour usability at the expense of control; and
  4. Information Asset management. Information Assets include all data, records and document, online content and corporate memory and knowledge. Information is only an asset if it can be easily found and used. If not, it quickly becomes a liability. Most organisations can’t easily find the information they need when they need it and the problem is worsened by remote working. We can start to value our Information Assets by the impact on the business by not having them. Many executives consider losing their best people to be their greatest business risk.

The pandemic has also created uncertainty and dynamism in the business environment, especially:

  1. disruption to global supply chains;
  2. increased difficulty and cost of conducting business;
  3. industries decimated, for instance the airline and hospitality industries; but
  4. opportunities created for those with the industry insights and commercial intelligence to drive competitive advantage.

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James Price can be contacted 0438 429 144 or by email at


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