Information underlies performance in every modern organization. Customer information is the lifeblood for consumer-facing businesses, as it enables effective marketing and service programs. Product information plays a similar role in the discrete manufacturing world and enables coordination of complex networks of suppliers and distributors. Asset information represents the “family jewels” for asset-intensive industries, like process manufacturing, infrastructure, and energy. It enables them to optimize returns from their enormous investments in equipment and facilities.
To drive value from information, organizations need to ensure it is always accurate and up to date. Recognizing this, leading consumer and manufacturing organizations have established customer information management and/or product information management programs. Solution providers also support this with complete information management suites that address the unique challenges in these areas.
While the need is analogous, asset information management (AIM) has not received the same attention from owner/operators or solution providers. It’s not that they do not appreciate the importance of good asset information, just that they have not yet recognized the breadth of the issue and the significant benefits that can be reaped through information sharing across asset lifecycle management (ALM) groups. So, in place of an effective set of common policies, practices and technologies, the typical asset-intensive organization struggles with a motley collection of inconsistent, siloed information management programs that create unnecessary risks for the organization and frustrate everyone’s efforts to improve performance.
Today’s AIM situation is similar to how organizations originally managed their customer and product information. Not surprisingly, we see the same results – excessive errors, inefficiencies, and customer complaints. So, it is reasonable to expect that the problems with AIM can be solved by applying the lessons learned in these other areas. In most cases, organizations can also leverage their investments in people, processes and technology for other enterprise information management programs to kickstart an effective AIM program.
While there are many similarities, asset information still differs from customer and product information. So, an AIM program requires certain AIM-specific practices and technologies. Most asset-intensive organizations already have what’s needed, they just have to refine and reconcile multiple versions to remove conflicts and ensure consistency and compatibility across all ALM groups. Some new solutions may also be required, but they can generally be justified on the basis of enabling the organization to introduce more efficient, industry best practices into their ALM program.
AIM has been a recurring theme for ARC in our reports and annual forums. We have shown how poor AIM can cost the typical asset-intensive organization 1.5 percent of its revenues and unnecessarily increase organizational risks. We have outlined the elements of a good AIM program and the steps that organizations can take to unleash the tremendous value that lies hidden in their asset information. The analogy between AIM and other enterprise-wide information programs shows why AIM deserves top management support and that it can be achieved through an extension of existing programs, rather than a new “big bang” IT initiative.
We believe that the case for action is clear and justifiable. It’s the will to act that is lacking. For that, I offer some George Bernard Shaw quotes that have inspired me:
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.”
“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”