IG Assets: Value and protect

Filed under: Assets,Governance,Objectives,Outcomes,People,Process,Risk — lenand @ 8:25 am

Information Governance is the setting of Objectives to achieve measurable Outcomes by People using information Assets in a life cycle Process that considers the impact of both Risk and Time.

Information Assets are the end-products of much of Society’s activity.  Like any valuable assets, they should be valued, protected and probably insured.  Even if not insured, money should be spent on reducing the risk of loss. Some might say it is the primary purpose of Information Governance.  One may then ask, ‘Why do so few organisations have an information asset register?’.  Quarkside attempts to explain.

The seven dimensions of Information Governance (7DIG) have secondary dimensions.  But the boundaries between them are nebulous. A common failing is restricting consideration to assets that are exclusively electronic. Huge repositories exist in paper files, archives, libraries and maps. Even though some may be digitised, many are not and most will not have indexes that will allow efficient identification of useful resources. The Data Protection Act does not apply to paper based archives. The candidate secondary dimensions are:

  • Documents: Paper based records may be well protected physically, but least accessible. They do not possess password once they have been retrieved. Military establishments have strict protocols for access. Public libraries do not need high quality identity management. Unless they have been scanned with optical character recognition software, then it is impossible to automatically share the content with electronic systems.
  • Hardware: Computer processors and microfilm readers can both be classified as hardware. Only computers are subject to misuse and cyber attacks and need special protection measures.
  • Software: Computer programs that manage the processing and flow if information
  • Infrastructure: Networks and other facilities that surround information stores.
  • IPR: Rights attached to data, images and documents
  • Data: Raw data, which usually undergoes some form of processing before it is considered useful. It can be held on digital or any other media.
  • Information: It is debatable whether information is fundamentally different from data. Quarkside finds it helpful to define information as sets of data that have been subject to some value added process, such as indexing, mathematical transformation, selection or analysis. Information has been described as useful data.

All assets have a value; therefore they need governance. Only some assets have a tangible value that appears on a company balance sheet; typically books, hardware, some software and infrastructure. Data and information are intangible assets, and even though they may have greater value, they do not have a place on the balance sheet.  However, they should be given equal levels of stewardship.

As Wikileaks has demonstrated, leakage or theft of information can cause huge reputational damage and seriously threaten the viability of an organisation. Most public sector agencies do not have a register of information assets. How can they be controlled with knowledge of what they are or their potential value?  Some standards would be welcome.

Critical data may be held on spreadsheets, or in filing cabinets, that can only be operated by one person. Quarkside says that such behaviour must be identified and governance improved to more professional levels.

Finally, a linguistic point.  The four dimensions already considered, Objectives, Outcomes, People and Assets, are the subjects and objects of Information Governance. Grammatically, they are nouns and they need to be linked by verbs, (dare I say transitive verbs?) to make sentences. Such verbs describe the Process of Information Governance in the next blog in the 7DIG series.


  1. […] to processing data about their clients.  Organisations have a duty to administer information Assets securely and use them for improving […]

    Pingback by IG People: Huge gap in skills « Quarkside — 02/03/2011 @ 9:01 am | Reply

  2. […] have their own Objectives about why they need to select a book. They obtain access to information Assets within the library governance […]

    Pingback by Objectives of IG « Quarkside — 02/03/2011 @ 9:08 am | Reply

  3. […] Assets […]

    Pingback by Information Governance defined? « Quarkside — 02/03/2011 @ 9:42 am | Reply

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