Organizations are facing massive problems with content overload, especially from data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT), according to a recently published market intelligence report from AIIM, the Association for Information and Image Management.

But the report (registration required) also shows that most businesses view enterprise content and document management as mission critical — and that many enterprises are making significant steps in getting the problem under control.

Big Concerns

AIIM surveyed more than 434 AIIM members between February and March. They represented organizations of all sizes, with 34 percent in large enterprises and 40 percent in small-to-medium enterprises.

The research showed that 52 percent of their organizations have three or more content/records/document management systems in place.

Equally important, about a third concede they would suffer serious disruption if those systems failed for as little as an hour. And three out of four respondents described ECM and record management as fundamental parts of information management in their organizations.

These conclusions are a step beyond what we have seen in previous reports, which indicated many organizations were struggling to manage their content regardless of the systems or strategies they had in place.

The survey also found that the focus of technology innovation has shifted to consumer technologies, with critical enterprise content management (ECM) usability and adoption issues remaining significant problems.

Organizations that have deployed ECM platforms are doing a better job now than they were five years ago, AIIM President John Mancini told us. But he added that information "is like a treadmill that has sped up. More and more information is coming into those systems, and you have to run twice as fast to remain in the same place. That's a challenge."

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While some consider ECM an outmoded term, the objectives behind these solutions are still relevant. Organizations need to take in information, save it in an appropriate place, and manage the lifecycle from intake to destruction, he noted.

The research covers issues including cloud access, mobility and file sharing. It also corresponds with the release of a second report that focuses on content management, which we will look at later in the week.

ECM Decisions

Doug Miles, AIIM’s Chief Analyst, authored the ECM report, which explores strategic options for managing, accessing and preserving content. He noted:

Over half [of respondents[still have a single enterprise-wide system as their goal, despite the number of ECM/DM/RM systems they currently support, and the rest are pushing ahead to link together other content and enterprise systems to provide a single point for search access, and where possible, in-place lifecycle management. Provision or integration of social platforms, capture systems and robust records management within the ECM suite is also an attractive option for most, and the combination of consolidation and demand for new services is driving some 15 percent of organizations towards system replacement plans."

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

Drivers and Adoption

Reducing cost and improving efficiency is the main driver for enterprise adoption (40 percent). Risk dropped slightly from 2013 to 33 percent, and collaboration and customer service tie for third place.

ECM systems

More than half (52 percent) have three or more ECM systems, while 22 percent have five or more, up slightly from last year. But 52 percent also state they are working towards a single, enterprise-wide system — and 16 percent have actually achieved that.

Mobile ECM

About 39 percent have some degree of mobile access for content in ECM repositories. But only five percent have widespread access for staff and project partners and less than 20 percent have app-based comment, edit and process interaction capabilities.

In light of this, it is hardly surprising user adoption still remains the biggest challenge (45 percent) while improving training and the skills-base is a problem for 30 percent.

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2 Levels Of ECM

Mancini said most organizations would benefit from a well-developed ECM strategy, but noted that events outside the industry are also driving change. “ECM has shifted over the past few years from something that is used by a very small number of document specialists to something that is used by just about every knowledge worker in the organizations. This really highlights the usability issues," Mancini said.

While there are signs form this report that things are getting better, Mancini added that the progress is only being made on one, older level of ECM and that serious issues remain. "When you talk about the content management that is more collaborative, that is ad hoc and unstructured, where knowledge workers are using them on a day to day basis, that’s when some of those usability issues raise their heads,” Mancini said.

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Organizations have to figure out how to tell their knowledge workers where to put their information in ways that are shareable, secure and findable. If they don't, workers will likely turn to consumer level file sync and share technologies they will bring into the enterprise themselves, in the same way they did with mobile devices.