Does a Telco Lay Fibre Optic Cables or Make It Possible for You to Order Pizza? — IM as a Service

My conversations with Andrezza Falk, a consultant with Systemscope, have challenged me to broaden my understanding of information management, and to think of it as a practice that goes beyond compliance and as a service in its own right.
What follows is a dramatized account of Andrezza’s thought-provoking questions and my sometimes less-than-articulate deer-in-the-headlights responses…


Andrezza: “Should IM practitioners think of themselves as ensuring compliance or delivering a service?” 

Me: “…”
Andrezza: “Well, yes, obviously we are delivering a service. How about this example…”

Let’s look at Bell as a service provider. For the most part, Bell does not sell itself to customers by explaining the nitty gritty of how communications cables work, how many kilometers of fibre optic cables they have in the country, what metals conduct electrical signals, etc. Bell knows that the majority of us don’t understand or care. Nor does Bell bore us with the laws that they are required to follow. Bell sells its service to us by explaining the benefits of that service in friendly human language. “Fewer dropped calls” … “Connect with your family with free long distance calling on evenings and weekends” … “Data plans for connecting with your friends on social media” … “100 local anytime minutes so you can always order that pizza” etc.

Telecom companies sell their services by promoting the benefits to the user. They absolutely do not make their service sound like a burden on the user.

Me: “True…”
Andrezza: “So why do we as IM practitioners try to promote our services by focusing on compliance?” 
Me: “…”

We know compliance can be a burden for users. We also know that the outcomes of compliance, besides a few legal obligations, are mostly centred on improving the ability of users to work. The ability to more effectively connect with meaningful information leaves more time for the things that really matter. Like effective service delivery.

To promote IM, we need to:

  1. View ourselves as service providers rather than compliance enforcers;
  2. Promote the business benefits of IM to the user;
  3. Use plain, simple, and non-jargony language that that user can immediately understand;
  4. Ensure that we solve problems rather than identify/create more problems for users; and
  5. Enable business units to do their work assisted by IM as a service provider and not as a compliance taskmaster.

Through adopting this mindset, IM can help business to think of themselves as service providers too. When IM is able to provide value to users and reduce its perceived compliance burden, only then will IM be true partners and enablers of business. We look forward to the day.

Andrezza: “So would you rather work for Bell or in IM?”


Nicole Satchell is an information management professional who has experience in the federal government, municipal government, and non-profit organizations. She has worked on a variety of projects, including GCDOCS Information Architecture development and business process analysis projects. Ms. Satchell has a multifaceted educational background that speaks to interests in Records and Information Management, Archival Science, History and English Literature. She has a Masters of Archival Studies from the University of British Columbia.


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