>Information, So What?


It’s the information age and for most of us that means we are living and working with various forms of information technology every day giving us access to information through—voice, data, and video—thatshows up on our computer screens, smart phones, tablets, and more.

We are rich in information.

Many would say that we are overloaded with information, because there is so much and we can’t seem to possibly process it all no matter how hard we try–there is always more email to reply to, more YouTube videos to watch, more news and research to read up on, and more people to communicate and collaborate with via social networks, wikis, blogs,
tweets, and so on.

So what’s the point of all the information and collaboration? Is it just for fun and entertainment—like one big game of Trivial Pursuit? Or is it for getting a professional edge—i.e. the more you know and the more people you know, the better you are to advance and succeed?

Ultimately, information serves many purposes—it is the lifeblood of our humanity…it nourishes our curiosity, it feeds our learning and growth, and it enables us to make intelligent decisions in our lives.

Without information, we are just “flying blind” as they say, and couldn’t expect much in terms of personal or professional results for our organizations or ourselves.

So information is critical to improving our decision-making. Information and information technology is how we overcome poor decision-making based on gut, intuition, politics, and subjective management whim—all sure ways to get in a “why did you do that”

An interesting article in Defense Systems Magazine (May 2010) called “Getting Inside the Enemy’s Decision Cycle” talks about how the military seeks to disrupt the enemy’s information and decision-making to degrade their war-fighting capability.

“Success in battle is increasingly about making decisions more quickly than your adversary can.”

In the military, the decision cycle is frequently referred to as “OODA Loop”—observe, orient, decide, and attack.

If we can disrupt the enemy’s decision cycle or OODA Loop, we can “decide and act faster than they can.” The result is “I’m going to outmaneuver you” and win!

In short, information translates to decision-making and to action.

– Disrupt that cycle and we are sitting ducks.

– Enhance that cycle and we are stronger for it.

Ultimately, there are lots of important lessons about the criticality of IT to decision-making that comes out of the battlefield:

First, we all need information to survive and thrive.

Second, if we improve information quality and speed of delivery, then the better the decision-making and the impact on and off the battlefield.

This is why information and information technology is truly our competitive advantage and at the heart of our national security.

I believe that this necessitates that we treat IT as not just another budget line item, but rather as a strategic investment.

The vision for IT has always been to bring greater effectiveness and efficiency to the rest of the business and to the mission. Unfortunately, IT has not always lived up to that vision.

Despite some disappointments, we cannot afford to be second-rate in IT, because there will be a negative cascading effect throughout all of our industries and government agencies that rely on information and information technology.

The key for us is to continue investing in technology (wisely), investing in our people (profusely—they are the brains behind the machines), and keep focusing on using IT as an enabler to improve the business and mission of everything else we do.