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Manage Your Information as a Product

While many managers believe that quality information is key to their success, few act on the belief. With the help of four case examples, the authors demonstrate the need for companies to treat information as a product for customers rather than as a by-product of the systems or the events that produce the information. They present four principles that together form the keystone on which the delivery of high-quality information depends:

1. Understand consumers' needs. Consumer needs must be clearly established and understood during every phase of the information product's development and manufacture.

2. Manage the information production process. The process must be well defined and contain adequate controls, including quality assurance, inspection, and production and delivery time management.

3. Manage the life cycle of information products. The degree and frequency of changes to information products depend on the type and nature of the information, the tasks the information supports, and the changing context in which the information is used.

4. Appoint an information product manager. The IPM's key responsibility is to coordinate and manage the suppliers of raw information, the producers of deliverable information, and the information consumers. The IPM must apply an integrated, cross-functional approach.

As the four case examples illustrate, failure to abide by these principles can raise costs, lower quality, and jeopardize a company's competitive position. Adopting an information-as-product approach enables companies to discover new opportunities, exploit those opportunities, and deploy the resulting applications for enhanced profitability, competitive advantage, and market dominance.

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