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From document and data chaos to an information goldmine

From document and data chaos to an information goldmine

You increasingly hear about how organisations’ information resources management is as important as managing their physical, human and financial assets. Many organisations are simply drowning in big oceans of documents, data and information. Network drives are overcrowded and keep multiplying, making it difficult for people to find what they need. Organisations are concerned about the risk implications of information and data leaks. In addition, if information silos in existing solutions were not bad enough, content has now gone astray in new silos thanks to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications such as Box and Google Drive.

Is this of any use to your organisation?

How many systems does your organisation use?
The reality in organisations is that they are in a situation where several information management systems and applications are being used, few of which are connected to each other. 50 percent of the members of the AIIM community report that they are using three or more ECM/DM/DM/RM-systems and 22% even use five or more systems.

What are the business apps like?
Consumerization trends have totally changed expectations of business application users. Many people now assume that business solutions will work just as seamlessly and easily as the consumer solutions they are familiar with in their private lives. This is not a fair nor just assumption however; the reality is that providers of business applications will need to take this into account over the next five years.

Cloud is not helpful initially
Cloud and mobiles change our expectations of where we can work, when we can work, with whom we can work and which devices we use for work. The challenge is, however, that mobile and cloud technologies increase the volume, variety and the fragmentation of information in any business – and with this, enhance the risks of information chaos. On the one hand, information is the new currency of the world, on the other hand, effective management in exploiting this currency is a struggle for many companies.

I use more than 10 applications, but there is no universal app for these
Let me tell you about the applications that I use every day. LinkedIn. Google. Office 365/Outlook. Yammer. Box. SharePoint. And also, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and some Google Docs for when we really need to work together. EverNote. GoToWebinar for the webinars that I organise and GoToMeeting for the calls I have. If this doesn’t work, I switch to Skype.

And I work for a company that is only small. The idea that one single monolithic solution for enterprise content management (ECM) can meet all of the content requirements of an enterprise is unrealistic. This increasing complexity of information management causes headaches in organisations.

The ‘silo’ problem we have been talking about for almost two centuries is not getting any better. What’s more, it actually keeps getting worse.

So, what can we do about it? 

A different approach is needed. Every organisation will need to choose his own path, but I think that the following four recommendations can help you, as information manager, not only to take the lead but also to take on the role of being a hero. A hero’s role because you will be creating value that has been lacking so far. You will be leading the mission from information chaos to information goldmine.

4 recommendations that will enable you to create value for your organisation as information manager.

One size fits none
First tip: forget about the concept of ‘one-size-fits-all’. We live in a multi-repository world, which simply means that everyone has more than one place where he or she saves documents and data; from CRM to ERP and Google Drive to Outlook. The ideology of being able to get everything into one single system is no more than just a pipe dream.

Not the location of documents but their context is becoming more important
The second tip is to consider storage space-independent business solutions. In other words, applications with the capacity to work independently that at the same time have the ability to communicate with existing business systems and storage locations. This will eliminate migrations and allow you to use your existing ECM investments.

User adoption will largely depend on User Interface
Encourage user adoption with clear and simple User Interfaces and intuitive tools designed to support remote and mobile use. This third tip simply means: respond to the consumerization of business applications. It is important how applications look and how user-friendly they are. Mobility of these applications is even more important. This facilitates the ‘where you want, and when you want to work’ principle.

Provide documents and data with a metadata context
Finally, the fourth tip: understand the importance of metadata. Metadata is the key to the transition from a mindset based on storage places to a mindset that assumes a more context-aware approach to information management. In other words, context rather than location. It is far more valuable to know when a contract is due to expire, then to know if it is stored on a network drive or in Google Drive.

To make data, documents and information work for you, you need to make appropriate choices in terms of software as an organisation. Choose an application that prioritises context above the location of data, documents and information. Context is determined by metadata. Allow all of this to also run mobile in an intuitive application and you will see the effects on your organisation: time savings, error reductions, agility, compliance, understanding and above all, cost savings.

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