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information management[‚in·fər′mā·shən ′man·ij·mənt]
The functions associated with managing the information assets of an enterprise, typically a corporation or government organization. Increasingly, companies are taking the view that information is an asset of the enterprise in much the same way that a company's financial resources, capital equipment, and real estate are assets. Properly employed, assets create additional value with a measurable return on investment. Forward-looking companies carry this view a step further, considering information as a strategic asset that can be leveraged into a competitive advantage in the markets served by the company.
The scope of the information management function may vary between organizations. As a minimum, it will usually include the origination or acquisition of data, its storage in databases, its manipulation or processing to produce new (value-added) data and reports via application programs, and the transmission (communication) of the data or resulting reports. Many companies include the management of voice communications (telephone systems, voice messaging, and, increasingly, computer-telephony integration or CTI), and even intellectual property and other knowledge assets.
There is a significant difference between the terms “data” and “information.” Superficially, information results from the processing of raw data. However, the real issue is getting the right information to the right person at the right time and in a usable form. In this sense, information may be a perishable commodity. Thus, perhaps the most critical issue facing information managers is requirements definition, or aligning the focus of the information systems with the mission of the enterprise. The best technical solution is of little value if the final product fails to meet the needs of users.
One formal approach to determining requirements is information engineering. By using processes identified variously as business systems planning or information systems planning, information engineering focuses initially on how the organization does its business, identifying the lines from where information originates to where it is needed, all within the context of a model of the organization and its functions. While information systems personnel may be the primary agents in the information engineering process, success is critically dependent on the active participation of the end users, from the chief executive officer down through the functional staffs.
A major advantage of the application of information engineering is that it virtually forces the organization to address the entire spectrum of its information systems requirements, resulting in a functionally integrated set of enterprise systems. In contrast, ad hoc requirements may result in a fragmented set of systems (islands of automation), which at their worst may be incompatible, contain duplicate (perhaps inconsistent) information, and omit critical elements of information.
information managementThe discipline that analyzes information as an organizational resource. Information management covers the definitions, uses, value and distribution of all data and information within an organization whether processed by computer or not. It evaluates the kinds of data/information an organization requires in order to function and progress effectively.
Information can be complex because business transactions impact every area within a company. It must be analyzed and understood before effective computer solutions are developed. See ILM, information governance, data administration, IT and computer science.