Even after all the years of document and enterprise content management, enterprises are still buckling under the stress of trying to manage even their basic structured data. We saw yesterday, for example, in new research from Docurated, that 68 percent of organizations have five or more repositories.
We also saw that despite the rise of cloud computing and storage, the majority of content is being kept on premises and that workers spend up to nine hours per week just finding documents.
The Big Problems
It seems strange that after all the research and workshops of the past ten years focusing on document management that this should be the case. However, report after report from both vendors and independent researchers point to the fact that document management strategies in many enterprises are chaotic.
The research from Docurated, entitled the State of Document Management, points to seven reasons why this is the case. It also offers recommendation as to what enterprises can do about it. Carried out across 116 IT executives in enterprises of various sizes, it found the explosion in content across enterprises is frustrating even the most determined attempts to resolve this problem.
"A few things were really surprising to us. The No. 1 surprise was the promise of one single repository, one single source of golden truth. It’s kind of comical. What in fact ends up happening is that you had four repositories before you started [implementing a new system]. When you finish you have five or six. Ultimately you end up with more and more content sprawl across all these places,” said Alex Gorbansky, CEO of Docurated.
He also cited the use of file servers as a major problem with the storage of content and documents on-premises aggravating the problem of repository sprawl.
7 Pain Points
In fact, in all, the Docurated research pointed to seven specific pain points that enterprises face with document management:
1. Content spread across disparate repositories
A majority of respondents reported that they have years of content spread across the enterprises and in many different repositories. This makes it just about impossible for workers to find the content they are looking for.
One respondent pointed to what must be a reality for many enterprises given the widespread deployment and use of SharePoint for content management. He said that the enterprise he works has a document management strategy based a stack of legacy file servers and SharePoint making it impossible for our users to get the information.
The positive news from this was that 62 percent said the had prioritized document management this year. That said, it is not the first time we have heard that and yet the situation is still chaotic.
2. Five or more storage repositories
Even in those companies that have actively tried to manage the content sprawl, the number of repositories continues to grow. The study found that 60 percent of organizations report content growing at a rate of a least 100 percent per year.
The problem is that as more technologies are being used and more content comes into the enterprise more repositories are being created without adequate management, or metadata management, meaning more and more content is not trackable — what is increasingly referred to as dark content.
Docurated suggests that those companies that are experiencing this problem should invest in training to ensure that workers know exactly what is available, or at least know where different kinds of content can be located.
In fact, Gorbansky estimates, that sales and marketing people are spending as much as 70 percent of their time in non-revenue generating activities because of poor information and document management.
3. Poor mobility and ‘lost’ documents
Given this figure, it should be no surprise then, that mobile should be cited as one of the major pain points. This dovetailed with the finding that nearly two thirds of respondents cited poor user experience, difficulty in accessing infrastructure and difficulty accessing documents when mobile as their biggest challenge.
Strategies and technologies being employed to address content challenges include: enterprise search, content migration, content archival, workflow and cloud storage. The risk here, though, is the creation of yet another repository, so managing these kinds of developments is key.
4. File and Folder sprawl
With increasing amounts of content entering the enterprise most storage and collaboration solutions have made it easy for organizations to store and share content.
In fact, most of them make it too easy. If more content means, at least theoretically, more insights it also means more storage and wider and deeper folder and file sprawl. This adds content retrieval from these files and folders to the list of problems that users have to contend with.
Indeed, Gorabansky said that anecdotally there is evidence of enormous amounts of information being stored on desktops, making it inaccessible to the majority of the workforce.
This is aggravated even further by the ability of users to add folders and content without standard naming or organizational conventions. File duplication and search also creates huge amounts of problems that also have to be navigated.
5. Antiquated technology and widespread use of file servers
File servers are the most common customer repositories indexed by Docurated. Most of these do not have the technical features and functionality need to enable employee productivity while mobile.
The result is a fall back to the fail-safe of email for collaboration and content sharing. It is hard to argue with the convenience of email, but for those looking to control content this is another major headache.
Email lacks the versioning and security required to protect confidential client information while common file server limitations highlighted in the survey include version control problems, granular permissions, access stats/logs, expiration dates on links, passwords, and mobile access.
6. Inability to locate content
Creating and saving content has never been easier. A typical worker creates thousands of emails, spreadsheets, proposals, reports, and notes annually and has the option of storing in cheap external hard drives, on-premise systems like SharePoint, and cloud services like Box and Dropbox
The problem is finding that content afterwards. Without a enforced tagging strategy, or content location strategy, content can end up anywhere, even outside the enterprise.
If some companies have attempted to manage that through a centralized repository, more often than not this results in the creation of yet another out-of-control repository.
On top of this employees will simply ignore this repository because they prefer to continue doing what they’ve been doing. Even a focus on creating object-based retrieval systems to solve folder sprawl and retrieval chaos has fallen short. Content is simply impossible to find.
7. Under-use of Cloud storage
If storing content in the cloud and using file sharing applications has many advantages, it is hindered by the difficulties in moving all that content to the cloud.
There is also considerable security issues in user behaviors that are carried into the cloud, which can leave content exposed to uninvited viewers.
The result is that only a small amount of content is in the cloud compared with what could be stored there. Moving to the cloud could also save enterprises a considerable amount of money by moving it out of expensive enterprise storage to cheaper offsite locations.
While IT executives envision a world of one or two repositories, the reality on the ground is that more and more content silos are being created. Fifty-seven percent of respondents state they will have more documents repositories to support through 2014.
If Docurated has identified these seven points as some of the principal pain points across enterprises when it comes to document management there are others, not least of which is the failure by many enterprises to approach document management in a methodical and organized way.
To key to resolving all these problems is the development of a document strategy. Until this is done, the likelihood of these pain points being resolved is pretty poor.