Interoperability refers to the compatibility of ICT systems (and the data they generate) across disparate work units. This is primarily a concern for government agencies aiming to fully digitise their information assets by 2020. While many information management providers are capable of helping individual government departments reach their digitisation goals, they may not be equipped to help multiple digitised agencies cooperate effectively. The current advantage of paper-based information workflows is that they do not produce any compatibility issues. Full, multi-agency digitisation raises a number of questions, including whether systems will be capable of communicating properly, whether indexing conventions will be universalised, and whether file formats will be unilaterally accessible.
For organisations requiring absolute interoperability, the best information management partners can tailor solutions that mesh with existing ICT interfaces (minimising the need for staff retraining) while making the documents available in a wide variety of formats (eliminating the need for conversions). A collateral advantage of multiple agencies seeking out the same information management provider for their digitisation and interoperability needs is an overall reduction in cost. This is especially true for smaller government agencies, which can piggyback on a larger agency’s contract thanks to the government’s shared services initiatives.