Information – It’s Out There, But Increasingly Invisible and Valuable

by Bob Larrivee, AIIM Market Intelligence

The vista for content management is changing, and the industry that we have come to know as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is changing into something very different, as we struggle to put a value on information assets.

There is more “content” out there than ever before.  Every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day, with as much as 90 percent of the world’s data being created in the last two years, according to IBM. This information is being generated by a plethora of sources – from purchase transaction records and social medial to emails, and much more besides.

With digital transformation and the internet, and the rapid arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) we’ve not only seen a gargantuan rise in data – but complex and unstructured data, much of which needs to be stored, searched and analyzed.

Suddenly, working out what is content — now arriving in a diverse number of forms, — and what is simply data has become a problem. Managing content is paramount for business success – but content complexity and volume has left knowledge workers struggling to keep up with the process. This leads to information being stored in disparate data silos, which hobbles internal procedures and ultimately slows up business decisions.

So Much Choice

On top of this, enterprises are being given the choice of more content management solutions than ever before, all claiming to have bells and whistles that make them stand out from the competition. There are traditional ECM solutions grounded on transactional, high-volume, mission-critical content processes. These solutions are increasingly being absorbed into adaptive case management.
There are a number of sync-and-share content solutions at one end and high-level ECM solutions centered around e-discovery and compliance at the other, and a host of others in between, which makes choosing a solution pretty daunting.  But as the market matures, the way forward appears much clearer.

Creating the Digital Workspace

The way in which we work has changed dramatically over the last decade, with an increasingly mobile workforce who are connected 24/7 sharing and collaborating on information across time zones and locations.

Digital workspaces connect content management to business processes, which fundamentally change the way ECM is used.  What workers want is continuous, secure connectivity and a collaborative platform on which they can share ideas, experience and corporate knowledge. Integrated tools increasingly provide linked up archives to stop information redundancy.

The arrival of consumerization, cloud, mobile and IoT may seem like the death knell for ECM.  But, in fact, what we will see is a metamorphosis of ECM’s capabilities, and more besides. We are now into a new era of managing people, processes and information, dominated by Mobile Analytics, Cloud and Collaborative (MACC) technologies, which demand a dramatic rethink in content management.

The focus has shifted from devices and printing to capture and content, and those that are getting ahead of the curve here are the ones that will see a real return on investment and associated business growth.

There are enterprises out there, however, that are struggling with this revolution in content management and are finding it impossible to mine, let alone manage their information mountain. Enterprises need to adopt a new look at enterprise IT and digital services, one that controls cost, whilst delivering on service and staying within compliance and regulation.

Seeing is Believing

Content is growing and content is king.  As enterprises work on the next two biggest challenges they face – security and analytics – content management will become increasingly important, but also invisible. It won’t be the old transactional ECM we have seen, neither will it be records management or an add-on to social media tools.

ECM will still manage, share and process information, but it will go beyond its boundaries to remote staff, mobile devices and third parties. At the same time, data analysis will become increasingly important as enterprises look to learn more about their customers and competitors in a highly competitive marketplace.

Putting a Value on Information

Whilst ECM adapts to a new world of digital transformation, we also need to take a real look at the value we are putting on information as an asset. We are increasingly seeing an enormous chasm between the traditional value put on enterprises in terms of tangible and intangible assets and the actual value the market puts on enterprises.

At a recent AIIM Executive Leadership Council (ELC) summit on “infonomics,” Doug Laney, research vice president at Gartner, commented that in 1975, the average tangible assets of a corporation added up to 83 percent of its value. Today that figure is just 20 percent, and it seems there is a real shortcoming in measuring and valuing the information assets of an enterprise.

Every footprint, every strategic move, every business decision an enterprise makes today involves using information in some shape or form. The first big step is for information internally to actually be recognized as an asset. C-Suite executives must embrace content as the new frontier and recognize its power in driving revenue.

Information accounting is only just the beginning.  Enterprises must make cultural changes in their infrastructures.  This involves making “information-related decisions, and applying well-established asset management principles and practices to managing their newly anointed information assets,” according to Heather Pemberton-Levy, vice president content strategy and publishing at Gartner.

Information is the currency of the digital age.  Enterprises need to start managing and analyzing their information assets with the same gravity they do their financial, physical and human assets.  Alongside this, content management will need to integrate information from a host of systems and make it available on multiple devices to improve productivity and workflow and adhere to growing compliancy requirements.

Content management is about getting the right information to the right device at the right time.  Those that get it right will put the real value on their information


Bob Larrivee
AIIM Market Intelligence

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of The Imaging Channel.