Hierarchy of Information Management Needs

By: In: Information Management On: May 17, 2011

Hierarchy of Information Management Needs

With Apologies to Maslow

Information management in an enterprise has become a daunting challenge for CIOs because of:

  1. Rapid growth of data driven by voice, video, and the structured and now unstructured data collected for analytics
  2. Complexity of the enterprise infrastructure driven by mobility, data center virtualization and the cloud
  3. Risks due to privacy, security, eDiscovery and compliance

To help CIOs tackle the challenge of information management we present an information management hierarchy of needs (see picture) when satisfied helps the enterprise achieve Information Nirvana. As with Maslow’s theory, IT organizations are motivated to address unsatisfied information management needs. Also very importantly lower level needs have to be satisfied before higher level needs are addressed. The consequence of not doing so will be poor economies of scale for storage and information management, continuous cycles of build, re-architecture,  re-build and constant firefighting.

Hierarchy of Information Management Needs (with special thanks to my Iron Mountain teammate, Niclas Nordensved, for the creation of this graphic)

The CIO’s task is not done till needs at all levels are satisfied. Systematically addressing the needs at every step gives the enterprise an Information Advantage at every step. The final level is the long term realization of the elusive Business Value of Information. This is Information Nirvana.


At the most basic level enterprise data needs a storage foundation that is secure, scalable, and available and enables flexible access. The storage will have to meet the latency and bandwidth needs of the application use case. Information security and privacy has to be assured by this storage foundation.


The need for improved efficiencies and reduced operational cost of storage and management drives the adoption of system-driven processes.  A process approach that is repeatable and consistent is also essential for institutionalizing best practices in the organization for the long term.


An enterprise with a secure foundation and system-driven processes for cost efficiencies still has risk associated with information that it retains. The risk of information is managed through the development of holistic policies for access, retention, destruction, etc, across all information and applied consistently across information types, media and formats. Policy control enables information governance and helps organizations proactively manage information liability.


The ultimate goal of managing data and information is to derive business insight and to make information actionable. A data driven business will have a competitive advantage by using data and information to improve customer facing business processes, reduce time to market, and make the business agile.

Enterprise can develop a framework for deployment of technologies based on this hierarchy of information management needs. Others have advocated information management maturity models and information management journey approaches with similar goals to help enterprises address their huge information management challenge.

I feel that an organization that goes about systematically addressing the lower level information management needs will reduce churn and more efficiently and predictably realize business value from information.  The organization as a result will also have the processes, culture and architecture in place to better adapt and evolve as the needs change.  What do you think of viewing information management as a hierarchy of needs?

← Five ways to jack-up your records and information management costs Placing a “Computer Illiterate” in charge of eDiscovery is not a winning strategy for the defense →


  1. Gary MacFadden
    May 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm


    Interesting premise tying Maslow and Information Management together. Certainly satisfying the lower level Storage and Efficiency needs are necessary to achieve greater levels of Governance and Value especially as it pertains to CIO and IT organizational motivations.

    I’m not sure this works for business users who are major IM stakeholders, such as legal or sales, who may be less motivated by foundational needs and more concerned with governance and value creation respectively.

    But from a pure IT perspective, I like it.


  2. TM Ravi
    T. M. Ravi
    May 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm


    Great to hear from you.

    I agree with you that we are seeing a trend (such as with analytics projects) where business is bypassing IT and deploying their own solutions. Some of this has been due to the perceived lack of agility on the part of IT and their lack of focus in delivering value for the business. While initially business may take the initiative and move forward on their own I expect eventually for them to collaborate with IT for deployment, scaling, day-to-day operations and security/compliance.

    With outsourced services and cloud services, business can move forward on their own. However with outsourced and cloud services the vendor delivering the service will make sure that the underlying storage infrastructure is available, scalable, secure and cost efficient.I think Amazon or Salesforce are good examples.


  3. Gary MacFadden
    May 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm


    I think your comments are right on. CIOs, IT Execs need to continually improve on their ability to communicate the business value of IT especially as new computing modalities and tools such as cloud, virtualization and analytics become more integrated into the IT infrastructure that support business. If not, business users will get this information from other sources.


Leave A Comment


About the author

TM Ravi

T. M. Ravi is chief marketing officer for Iron Mountain responsible for marketing and strategy for the company’s cloud, on-premises and hybrid information management solutions that span data protection, archiving, eDiscovery and compliance. Ravi joined Iron Mountain through the acquisition of Mimosa Systems, the leader in enterprise content archiving, where he was founder, president and chief executive officer. Before Mimosa, Ravi was founder and CEO of Peakstone Corporation that provided performance management solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Prior to his role at Peakstone, Ravi was vice president of marketing at Computer Associates (CA), Ravi he was responsible for the core line of CA enterprise management products, including CA Unicenter as well as the areas of application, systems and network management, software distribution, help desk, security, and storage management. Ravi joined CA through the $1.2 billion acquisition of Cheyenne Software, the market leader in storage management and antivirus solutions. At Cheyenne Software, he was the vice president responsible for the company's successful Windows NT business with products, such as ARCserve backup and InocuLAN antivirus. Earlier in his career, Ravi worked in Hewlett-Packard's Information Architecture Group, where he did product planning for client/server and storage solutions. Ravi earned a MS and PhD from UCLA and a Bachelors of Technology from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, India.