April 26th is World Intellectual Property Day.
This is a day of recognition that was started in 2001 by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Do we need a day to remind us how important Intellectual Property (IP) is?
Personally I think we do.
Sure we know about the value that we get from patenting our big ideas, from documenting and enforcing our workflows that give us the competitive edge we need. We know about the big ideas, the things that are easy to differentiate, the processes that clearly are our own and stand us apart from our competitors.
But is this knowing about our IP or is this simply protecting our key assets?
Let’s take a look at another day that is celebrated in many countries around the world, Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day is a very old traditional holiday that celebrates motherhood and honours mothers. Rather than letting these two essential and everyday parts of our society languish in anonymity, we choose to bring them to the fore to recognise and cherish what mothers do for us, what motherhood means to us. Let’s face it, humanity has always had mothers and motherhood and will certainly continue without a day celebrating them. Mother’s Day is simply a way for us all to tell mothers everywhere that we recognise that while they are a common occurrence, motherhood is by no means a mundane part of our society.
So too with IP Day.
We keep secrets from one another and we brand our information as confidential. Every day we see ownership and confidentiality disclaimers. Our emails profess that all information belongs to our employers and those we receive belong to the sender’s employers. We have IP and privacy woven into the very fabric of our business society. Like mothers, IP is a core part of everyone’s lives - only we don’t generally choose to acknowledge anything but the biggest and brightest ideas.
The biggest single issue with IP is that most companies don’t actually know what knowledge they are sitting on.
Take email for example- it is a phenomenal source of knowledge. So much business communication use email, whose conversations provide a rich contextual background to any single piece of data it contains. Who sent it, what was said, what versions went where, when- the real context.
But the problem is that email is stored and archived in places where data goes to die. Ok, maybe not to die, but archives conjure up images of old musty shelving in the basement that is only ever accessed when there is some or other legal dispute that requires old information to be collected and brought back into the light. This is also true of vaults, places to lock information away, places that ensure no-one gets any value from your data for all time.
This is one of the big problems we're working to solve at Mimecast. Giving us your email is going to make it more useful, not less in the future.
Imagine if a little bit of awareness enlightened your staff and let them know that everything they do adds a little to the wealth of your company. Imagine if they recognized how valuable information actually is. Imagine the potential you would unlock if you could mine and analyse the data you have been storing for all these years.
So celebrate World IP Day in style, let your people know that while you may not have the analytics tools to automatically derive value from your unstructured data, you value the information they produce for you and would love to hear from them how best to surface more value. Information is there to be used, not stored in some dusty basement only to be called for in emergencies.
After all, you don't only bring your mother out once a year do you? She is there every day adding value to the lives of those around her. Treat your information like you would your mother, let it thrive and add value to your life every day.