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Asset information management (AIM) offers significant benefits to asset-intensive organizations.  Good asset information improves asset performance and the productivity of everyone in asset management.  It also helps reduce risk.

To reap these benefits, organizations need to address two different, but equally important issues: information quality and information usability.

Quality is primarily an information content issue.  A good AIM program requires content that is complete, accurate, and consistent.  Usability, on the other hand,  is primarily an information context issue.  Good usability occurs when people can efficiently access, understand, and apply asset information in their workflows and decision making.  This requires information organized in ways that align with user needs and presented with supporting information that clarifies meaning and relevance.     

Context enhances the value of asset information content by making it more understandable and actionable.  This additional information goes beyond that provided by an individual content object and answers fundamental questions like who?, what?, when?, where?, why?, and how?  

AIM context comes in two flavors – semantic and environmental.  Like supporting words in a sentence, semantic context is the information gained by looking at related content.  Environmental context is information about the conditions surrounding the creation and use of content.  Organizations need to support both in their AIM programs to drive maximum benefits. 

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Managing all of the contextual relationships that arise in AIM can be challenging.  Individual AIM solutions provide some contextual support, but organizations that want to maximize the value they derive from their asset information need to enhance these capabilities with dedicated context management solutions that extend contextual support across all applications and information stores.   

Most asset-intensive organizations understand the need for good content management and have developed practices and implemented solutions to meet these requirements.    The time has come to do the same for context management.  New solutions are emerging to make this easier and every asset-intensive organization should learn about and deploy solutions to fill this critical gap.

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