Context – the next wave in Information Management

It is true in life but truer in technology that change is the only constant. Let’s take information management. The focus of information management has been constantly changing since the early days. It all started with the twin problems of capturing complete information and processing its faster and more accurately. Then came the era where efficient information storage and retrieval was an issue. Relational Databases, normalization and increase in storage capacity at the hardware level solved that problem. Bigger storage capacity and smaller physical size have now given birth to a new disorder which needs to be handled. Metaphorically, we now have big rooms, big binders which have covers and tabs. We have a good book-keeping method by which we can search the binder(s) efficiently but there is still a lack of context to all these. To use another metaphor, systems and applications have taken the place of ministers in the court of the king – you, the user. Their job is to provide you with information in a precise manner to support decision making. The only difference is that the ministers of the old could process all the information and present to the king only those pieces which were relevant in solving the problem being discussed. Today’s systems and applications can no doubt provide data faster and with greater accuracy but they lack context. Giving context to the data is an important challenge faced by decision makers today.

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