I’m at the CIO Perspectives Forum here in DC today, and I participated in an interesting lunch discussion.  This discussion focused on how organizations can better manage the content that they generate.  There were several interesting issues brought up – of which a few I’ll mention below.

First, what constitutes information that an organization needs to archive and classify?  While it is clear to save memos, proposals, spreadsheets, database, etc., what about instant message conversations or company-related tweets?  If these are worth managing, how does a company capture such data and place this data into place with more traditional items?

Second, related to capturing and indexing tweets and other social media communications, should companies restrict their employees from using social networks and social media sites?  Further, if an employee is a friend of a client on Facebook, should they defriend the client when they leave the company?  In the past, when you left a company there were policies about what departing employees could do with their Rolodexes, but what about now?  In fact, if employees are friends with clients on Facebook, the Rolodex is now public.  How can an organization use their employees’ connections with clients?  Should the organization take the cue from a client’s profile and take them skiing if the client lists skiing as an interest? 

Third, what is the value of an organization data mining its own data?  Several of our clients use our product ImpactWatch to monitor the media through data mining, but what if a company looked at its own data?  For instance, would data mining archived e-mails help reveal new ideas and solutions that are scattered through different conversations and people?  Could this capture ideas that people who are not connected with product development so that the company can exploit these ideas?  While there is clearly some privacy concerns, it is worth noting that individuals should expect that their company likely has the right to monitor their company-provided e-mail accounts.

These were some of the questions that we discussed.  We clearly did not come up with definite answers, but these are important issues and opportunities that organizations need to consider when dealing with their own data.