The other week, AIIM hosted one of their InfoChats on twitter. The topic was the Value of Information. We skirted the actual answer and failed to deliver on the actual topic. We spent a lot of time talking about cost and not value. Chris Walker wrote an excellent piece on the challenge we faced during the chat over on his AIIM blog.
Why did we have so much trouble? I posit because Cost is easy to quantify, Value is not.
Value varies based not only upon the actual Information, but on the Consumer and the Context of the Information.
Dale Murphy Rules
My favorite baseball player of all-time is Dale Murphy. I own a 144 of his baseball cards that I have steadily collected over the years. One of those cards is his Topps Rookie Card (I have all of his Topps cards) that was in Mint condition when acquired.
One day I had an opportunity to meet Dale. I was a Boy Scout leader and he was giving autographs to all new Scouts. I went, waited in line, and had him sign the card while we traded a few words. That card is now one of my most prized possessions.
I bring this up because it readily illustrates the difference between Cost and Value. I can buy the same card signed by Dale Murphy and Rick Cerone (one of the other four players on the card) for $100.00 and his unsigned card can be found for under $35.00 without too much effort.
Mine is worth so much more to me. It is a symbol of the time taken to find the card in a pre-Internet era and the memory of meeting Dale Murphy all rolled into one item.
To someone else, the value is much, much less.
Context Plus Consumer
Pfizer’s unpublished earnings report has some value to their CEO, but as the information can be recreated quickly, once the implications of the numbers are understood, the importance of the document isn’t that high. The value of that same unpublished report to an investor is immense as they can use that Information in the stock market.
While the Consumer changes the Value of that report, the Value also varies by the Context. That earnings report is much more valuable before the public release than after.
What about something as mundane as an invoice? By itself, it loses a lot of Value after it is paid. When viewed in the context of determining ordering trends for a product or that customer, it is much more valuable.
And if a competitor had that Information in Context, it could be even more valuable to them.
What is the Value?
If Value varies based upon the Consumer of Information and the Context, how do you calculate the total Value?
Is is the Value to the person that values it the most? Is it the average Value? Is it the sum? I’m still working through some thoughts on this and I have some items to read and absorb still.
I want to explore the concept of the Value of Information over the next few months. What are your thoughts? What should we consider when measuring the Value of Information?