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Information as an Asset

Information as an Asset: Today's Board agenda

Welcome to the online hub for Information as an Asset, the joint CILIP/KPMG initiative to encourage a new generation of senior executives and leaders to engage with the strategic value of the information assets in their organisations.

Download Information as an Asset: Today’s Board agenda

We want to hear about how you are supporting your organisation to manage risks and maximise opportunities in your information assets. Please share your ideas on social media using the hashtag #infoasset.

CILIP is proud to support a growing community of people working in Knowledge and Information Asset. To join our community and get involved in our proactive Knowledge and Information Management Special Interest Group (K&IM SIG), join CILIP today!

Rediscovering Gold

In this blog post, leading IM practitioners Sandra Ward (Beaworthy Consulting) and Alistair Russell (CIO Connect) discuss the context for the Information as an Asset project.

In 1995, a report, Information as an Asset: the Board Agenda was published. Its purpose?  To stimulate Boards and Senior Executives to recognise their organisation’s information as a strategic asset and to manage it as such. 

The Hawley Report was developed by CEOs, Chairman and IT directors through debate and consultation led by Robert Hawley CEO of Nuclear Electric.

The report itself disappeared from view some years after publication, but in today’s information-intensive climate it deserves to be revisited and refreshed for a new generation.

A new partnership

Organisations can thrive or wither and fail depending on how they manage information.  Hence the commitment by four informal partners to republish, promote and then update the Report, following consultation on the needs of today. The partners are:

  • The Chartered Institute of Information Professionals (CILIP)
  • KPMG, the global network of professional services firms providing audit, tax and advisory services
  • CIO Connect, an advisory service for UK CIOs and technology leaders
  • IK SpringBoard supported by NetIKX (the Network for Information and Knowledge Exchange)

We are all concerned with the business of Information and Knowledge Management.  CIO Connect and KPMG have a shared heritage in the work that researched, developed and published the original Hawley Report (the IMPACT programme):  KPMG hosted the Programme; CIO Connect developed from the community of CEOs and CIOs who contributed to the research. 

In 2017, KPMG and CILIP launched a joint programme of work to plan and deliver a new version: Hawley for today. 

Why Gold?

The Hawley Report was truly ground-breaking, laying out the significance of information to organisations.  Hawley charges Boards with the responsibility to identify their information assets, ensure these are well and legally managed, and deployed to best advantage. 

The Report outlines ten key areas for action with guidelines to show Boards how and where to act.  If focuses on content, particularly the identification, protection, and deployment of that content to deliver value for the enterprise as a core role for Boards. 

The Report recognises Information Technology as the provider of tools and infrastructure that enable information to be shared, accessed and used.  Given the value of information today, it is even more relevant now as when first published. Its contributors came from the public and private sectors.

The original Report posed two questions to its audience:

  • Do we have information that is a strategic asset to our organisations?
  • Are we content that we understand and manage these assets in the same way that we understand our other strategic assets, harnessing them and protecting them as we should?

The answer to the first question was ‘Yes’ – increasingly organisations recognised information as a critical and competitive resource. 

For the second question the answer was ‘No’.   Businesses were just not equipped to be certain that they were managing information for optimum benefit.  We are convinced that, in 2018, not much has changed.

Information is critical to success

Information is even more critical to success today, but how many organisations currently address information management at Board level, let alone related areas such as knowledge management? 

How many Boards know what and where their information assets are; what value they’re delivering; and their potential?  Is information a core item on the Board’s agenda today? 

We want to change this situation.  Although, as partners, we see the change imperative from different perspectives, we are convinced that the role of Boards in ensuring a relevant and far sighted information strategy has not kept pace with the changing information context, let alone caught up in the way that Hawley signalled it should.   

Today, we see the case for renewed focus by Boards on “identifying, harnessing and protecting their information assets” as well as ensuring organisational information capability as having five key elements:  these are:

  1. The increasing capability of information systems to derive value from information assets; the development of systems that learn faster than humans; and systems offering insight and conclusions for the organisation beyond that previously available through designed systems.  These systems are being enabled by tools such as AI, text and data analytics, machine learning, and robotics;  
  2. The rapid growth in the volume and range of information assets that are available to organisations, so called “big data”, derived  from an increasing number of connected devices; systems that hold and are able to present data-sets; accurate meta-data combined with the assets available from bodies in the open data movement;
  3. The accelerating capability to share information assets in ever more flexible and fast ways e.g. through using automated programme interfaces (APIs);
  4. The need to protect information assets in this more connected and open world where the technologies that enable the “harnessing and protecting” of information assets are often bought as services from other organisations outside of the direct control of the Board, yet these are critical in the delivery of value to shareholders and/or stakeholders;
  5. The socio-political context now heightening recognition of the value of personal data, prompting new regulation and legislation; Personal data that is sometimes given freely, sometimes unknowingly in exchange for “free services”.  As well as making individuals more critical of corporate management of personal data; this climate has the potential to influence the people and the processes that deliver the organisation capability to “harness and protect” an organisation’s information assets.

Next steps

CILIP and KPMG, working with CIO Connect and IK SpringBoard will launch and promote Information as an Asset: Today's Board Agenda both across the Information Management Profession and to c-suite executives and senior decision makers in the public and private sectors. 

IK SpringBoard will also be taking forward a follow-up project, focused on providing tools and resources to enable decision-makers to take action to secure their information assets.

Please send your thoughts and ideas about the Information as an Asset project to Ayca Ilcen at CILIP:




Presentations from Information as an Asset launch

•  Dr Sandra Ward reviews how the world has changed since the launch of the original Information as an Asset report in 1995.
• Health Education England's CIO James Freed looks at the need to learn faster and govern smarter in the digital age.
• Network Rail's Head of Innovation and Information Management Dr Apurva Sinha looks at the role of information management and open data.
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