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The Digital Transformation of Information in the Application Economy: Part Four of Five


New apps support business strategy and provide valuable mechanisms for interacting with users. The knowledge management challenge they present is that IT has to track, process and manage the data—yet another way the app economy has changed the info lifecycle.

Management needs this data at their disposal, since they have to be more nimble in responding to users. But management doesn’t need data, per se; it’s knowledge. With that in mind, let’s agree on these definitions:

  • Information=Structured data
  • Knowledge=Information in context

You Need Plan A—and Plan B

IT has to ensure that management gets the knowledge they need to make nimble business decisions. In formulating a knowledge management plan, answer these questions:

  1. Does IT understand each manager/department’s knowledge needs and enterprise-wide knowledge needs?
  2. Is the knowledge being delivered current? Is that evident to the knowledge users?
  3. Can management readily get the knowledge when needed?
  4. Is knowledge delivered in a format that best supports management?
  5. Is mission-critical knowledge securely stored and accessed, well defined and backed up frequently?
  6. If the IT infrastructure fails, do you have a Plan B for accessing critical knowledge?

Perhaps Even Plan C

We also need to remember that individual departments retain department-unique knowledge that may not be mission-critical enterprise-wide. Such repositories are usually met with almost immediate adoption, but unless a skilled knowledge manager is identified, and that role is in their job description, most departmental repositories become large files of artifacts that accumulate with no logical plan.

Things don’t need to unspool like that. When IT provides guidance and support for department repositories, they will likely provide value: information in context that is accessible when needed, so departments can be nimble enough to contribute to the bottom line.

The World is Your Audience

In the app economy, we also support external end users who conduct business via smart phone: banking transactions, purchasing goods and services, arranging travel—the list goes on.

Users expect the right data, delivered in protected mode, to be readily visible and understandable on a small screen. They also expect their responses to be accurate and secure.

When IT gives users information in context, users can readily make informed decisions, and the company will be an industry leader.

Next, we’ll look at the underlying technical details of managing data. Until then, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve encountered knowledge management challenges other than those discussed here.

In case you missed them, here are the links to posts one, two and three

The Digital Transformation of Information in the Application Economy

The end goal isn’t deploying apps—it’s successfully executing a business strategy. Traditionally, after an enterprise defines its strategy, the IT organization delivers an information lifecycle that meets business needs: an effective infrastructure (especially apps) and information and services that will meet strategic milestones.

The information lifecycle design needs to cover all aspects of the service, notably:

  • An app that supports business requirements and the app’s design lifecycle, which is its complete lifetime, from conception to decommissioning.
  • Information to feed the app, which generates additional information. The information lifecycle is the process of planning, harvesting, organizing, retrieving, using, securing, distributing, changing and disposing of information.
  • A data management lifecycle, which organizes data into tiers based on data criticality, cost and speed. Policies help automate data migration between tiers.


You may be thinking, “We have a well-thought-out IT service management (ITSM) strategy supported by ITIL 2011. Doesn’t that cover the business strategy and information lifecycle strategy?”

As mentioned in our previous post , the lessons of the past don’t always apply in the application economy.

The ITSM strategy differs from business and information lifecycle strategies in that most infrastructure services support the business of IT, not the larger enterprise, which demands effective processing of information captured by applications. Companies that leverage this difference are industry leaders.  

A key way that the app economy has changed ITIL and the information lifecycle is that managing information is key to delivering successful apps. As a result, ITSM strategy owners need to actively identify and develop new business services.

Because enterprises rely on IT operations, failure to involve IT from the get-go yields inadequate support of the services/apps in use or—worse—major roadblocks when testing reveals that the service/app doesn’t support business strategy.

ITSM strategy owners who want to lead their companies to app economy success need to ensure that their business unit counterparts are aware of IT infrastructure capabilities and the impact of changes to the information lifecycle.

Next steps

Next time we’ll talk about data capture and its challenges: privacy, optimization, cost, compliance, and big data. Until then, let us know how you have adapted the information lifecycle to meet your app economy needs.