Organizations around the world are investing in platforms and processes meant to analyze massive amounts of information gathered and stored in data warehouses. To be sure, big data and analytics is fast endowing enterprises with innumerable benefits. However, far too many businesses are neglecting other types of information, where it comes from, and how it flows throughout organizations. As such, a new holistic view of information management will be essential for organizations that wish to succeed in this new world of work.

Businesses that haven’t already learned to look past the numbers toward the flesh and blood customer will need to pick those skills up pronto, because the customer doesn’t want to be relegated to numbers and statistics. The customer wants to be recognized for the individual that they are, and, at the end of the day to walk away from their interaction with your brand feeling valued as a person.

How vital is information to your organization?

Too many businesses treat their data like the customer, and treat their customers like data.

Simply put, information is the lifeblood of your organization. From customer information that directly affects processes and workflows, to product, service, and scheduling information that guides each unique customer experience, there is wealth of data and information that is essential for business operations. Without proper information management, redundancy and information loss is common and can bring business to a grinding halt, as well as completely shatter the customer experience.

This is because information is your business’s representation of the customer—or at least the most holistic one that you have. Yet, too many businesses treat their data like the customer, and treat their customers like data. It’s important to realize that while your data can give you part of the story about your customer, it’s still critical to maximize the value of every single customer touchpoint with quality and consistent customer service. After all, you can learn a lot from your data, but human beings aren’t just entries in a spreadsheet somewhere.

Information mobility architecture is key

Poor information management in an organization causes both gridlock and intense customer dissatisfaction. A classic example is when a flight is delayed, but no information is available to passengers from customer service, the online app, or the desk attendant at the airport. Knowledge of why that flight is delayed and how long it will be delayed exists, but for whatever reason, it never reaches the proper channels, leaving the customer with a big question mark instead of an answer. Often, information gridlock begins with a single problem, likely small and unidentifiable, unless you know what you’re looking for. But while it may start small, gridlock will begin slowly cascading throughout the enterprise creating department silos, loss of productivity and efficiency, and eventually paralyzing the organization from within.

This is a classic example of how data doesn’t matter if it’s not utilized properly. In the example above, the customer doesn’t care if their information hasn’t reached the proper channels, because they’re not doing business with channels. They’re doing business with you. They’re not doing business with siloed departments, they’re doing business with your brand as a whole. When your customer’s information is misrepresentative or unavailable, you’ve essentially lost your only connection to them—and the only thing worse than being treated like just another number is being treated like you don’t exist.

How your organization can benefit

Despite this, organizations are lacking when it comes to their information. According to a Ricoh-commissioned survey conducted by IDC, less than one in five (17 percent) companies are at the highest level of information mobility.

Less then one in five companies are at the highest level of information mobility.

While it’s not an easy task, properly regulating the flow of information throughout your organization is an achievable, serious goal. The biggest challenge is creating a holistic plan with a deep, yet broad reach across your organization— one that promotes key business goals, involves every department, and doesn’t let the customer down.

And there are big benefits. Organizations with strong information mobility have, on average, an annual revenue increase of $7,210 per employee, reduced costs by more than $16,000 per employee, and had an average net productivity increase of 28 percent. The ROI is real.

While most enterprises are able to deal with minor information management problems internally, sometimes the complications and hang-ups present a problem too tangled for any business to solve without the help of an expert who knows exactly where to look. And as we have seen, small problems can lead to gridlock.

If your organization is looking to harness the power of your big and small data and untangle the knot that causes gridlock, a third party consultation may be your best bet.