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IGI Definition of Information Governance

What is information governance?

We are asked this question all the time. After all, we are the “Information Governance” Initiative. We thought it was important to have a clear answer. Today, with the help of our community, we are providing that answer.

But first, a word about definitions. Definitions certainly are important – we have to speak the same language to have a conversation. But the words used to define IG are less important than the concepts. And the definition you use is less important than having a common understanding among your IG team. We hope to provide a starting point for that common understanding in the form of a definition that has broad support from the information governance community. Also, keep in mind that you are really asking at least three separate questions when you ask, “What is information governance?”

1. The Concept: What is IG? Impressions regarding the central ideas and organizing principles of IG. To date, most public discussion of IG has happened at this level, which is to be expected given the relative immaturity of IG as a distinguishable pursuit or discipline. The definition we are providing today hits this level.

2. The Market: What do I buy? The conceptualization of IG as a market for products and services. We did not attempt a market sizing as we believe that is a domain well-covered by analyst firms, but we were curious about whether IG is perceived as a market, and if so, what are the dimensions of that market. Our upcoming 2014 Annual Report also hits this level.

3. The Work: What do I do? The dimensions of IG as an activity that is undertaken by organizations. IG as an operational model. What are people doing, and how are they doing it? What are their plans? Our upcoming 2014 Annual Report also hits this level.

In any case, we proposed a definition to our community as part of our upcoming 2014 Annual Report, and they overwhelmingly supported it. 93% said they agreed with the definition.

Information governance is:

The activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing associated risks and costs.

Remarkably, as the graphic shows, there was also incredibly strong agreement among those who provide IG products and services, those who consume them, and those who cover the space. This agreement shows that the IG market is starting to mature and bodes well for IG practitioners. We have already been testing out our definition in some of our advocacy work, which you can see here.

If you find value in our definition, then use it. If not, find a way to define IG in your organization that will maximize the chance of IG being taken up as a central concept in the way you manage information. In either case, join us in mapping the way forward.

We are excited to be able to release this infographic under a Creative Commons license that enables you to freely use it as you build support for information governance at your organization. In fact, since this graphic will likely end up in your PowerPoint presentations, we have done some of the homework for you and provided a PPT deck that includes the graphic and speaker notes. Download it here.

Stay tuned for more infographics and PPT decks in the coming weeks as we leak key data from our 2014 Annual Report ahead of its official publication in August 2014.