Intelligent information management (IIM) is a set of processes that enables organizations to organize, manage and understand all types of data. IIM deals with data such as computer files, spreadsheets, databases and emails. Attributes that define IIM include integration of IP device discovery, data sharing, infrastructure databases, events and alarms, third-party integration, automated patching, and applications.
The role we expect content and information management to play in our organizations is clearly more than ECM (especially in its more traditional transaction-centric and records-centric definition), and it is clearly more than Content Services. And neither of these labels will be sufficient to describe the issues and strategies that organizations will face as the above content management “species” are further morphed by the coming tidal wave of big data and analytics.
Intelligent Information Management means that new world is all about Data AND Content, not Data OR Content. We’ve operated in the past with a convenient dichotomy between data management and content management. If this dichotomy ever made sense, it makes less and less as time goes on. The kinds of customer-centric problems that must be solved require competencies and technologies from BOTH the data management and content management worlds.
What does this mean as you build your Information Management strategy?
There are many “flavours” of solutions.
Intelligent Information Management means that there are many levels of complexity in thinking about the content management challenges facing organizations, and as a result, many flavours of information management solutions. Organizations need to identify:
- exactly what they are trying to accomplish, in business terms
- map those goals against the required capabilities in the Intelligent Information Management roadmap
- understand how solution providers map against their required capabilities.
Everyone does not need everything and despite what solution providers may say, not every vendor does everything. There are a wide variety of solutions in the marketplace, doing everything from basic back-end process automation at scale to providing a sharing platform for knowledge workers to fueling an integrated and innovative data/content customer journey across multiple sub-processes (like procure to pay, for example, or new customer on-boarding). Understand that the point from which you are starting will likely determine a lot about how far you can go in the next 12 months, and be realistic.
Digital Transformation requires both a top-down and a down-up strategy.
Every organization is on a quest to transform and digitize their business. C-level executives go to conferences and come back proclaiming a need for a bold “Digital Transformation” initiative, not always realizing that the raw material — and skills — necessary for transformation likely lie in some of their past experiences with ECM and Information Governance. Content and records practitioners do not understand their potential value to Digital Transformation initiatives and fail to update their skills and mindsets to connect to the bigger world of data AND content. Both parties are critical to a Digital Transformation initiative, and organizations need to consciously work to connect these perspectives.
Digital Transformation is not likely to occur via a Big Bang.
Not every business process is a gigantic, millions of documents, straight-through process (in other words, a “traditional” ECM process). But all of these much more modest day-to-day processes are still information intensive, and automating these day-to-day processes is a critical precondition to digitally transforming the business.
Resist the impulse to simply throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Where do you want to rip and replace and where do you want to leave things alone? How do you leverage your existing ECM investments? How do you allow existing mission-critical legacy systems to continue AND invest in new customer-centric initiatives? Most organizations have many more systems and repositories than they think. Understand the purpose of each major content system, how current it is, its cost, whether there are opportunities to consolidate suppliers, and whether there are more modern and flexible solutions available. As you consolidate, keep in mind the core functional requirements listed above.
Make a commitment to metadata.
Metadata is the key to moving from a storage mindset to an applications mindset. It is also key to building some element of sanity around both the ability of your knowledge workers to find information across multiple repositories and your ability as an organization to put some framework around the management of your information assets. The days of imagining that everything would wind up in a single repository are over.
Adopt a day-forward bias.
The information management challenge facing most organizations is akin to a leaky boat filling more quickly than the people in the boat can bail out the boat. Are you better served by adopting point solutions to deal with legacy information, and focus your efforts on day-forward initiatives? Do you understand that when information variety and volumes are growing geometrically, a preoccupation with legacy data and information will mean you will never get ahead of the problem?
Focus on the water coming INTO the boat first.
Invest in building new data competencies.
In the world that is coming, not everyone will need to be a data scientist, but a LOT of employees will need to be information entrepreneurs. In addition, the worlds of data and content are combining/colliding, so invest in building competencies that understand the intersection.
Lastly, stop thinking about all process issues through an ECM “prism.”
There is a tendency for those in the “ECM Community” – both users and suppliers to think of all issues through an ECM prism. There are still many, many organizations who have yet to automate these core back-end ECM processes. But, that is only part of the story. The focus is shifting to applications that leverage content capabilities for specific business purposes. The focus is shifting to the integration of content capabilities into our existing applications — including SaaS applications — finally providing the long-promised benefits of ECM without the adoption issues we have struggled with for so long.
Welcome to the world of Intelligent Information Management.