A Look Back Battling Information Management Chaos

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If ‘X’ represents the mass of information in your enterprise, it also represents the size of the problem that you currently have with information management. In other words, the more information you have in your enterprise, the bigger your problem. And odds are it has gotten worse in the past 12 months.

That's not to say that there hasn't been a flurry of new technologies available to help you deal with this information overload. In the big data space alone, the explosion in the number of solutions available is staggering. It's even more mind blowing if you add in all those that have emerged in content management, analytics, business intelligence, cloud storage, mobile and so forth.

Technology Won’t Solve It

Even document management, which has been developing over years, is still a problem for many enterprises, along with all the associated issues of compliance, governance or records management.

It doesn’t mean, however, that it’s all broken beyond repair. It just means there are problems that need to be addressed if enterprises are to really get the benefit from all the data saved in the dozens of different repositories around the enterprise.

If you were to find a single post that sums up the problem as it presents itself at the end of 2014, it doesn’t get better than Joe Shepley’s recent examination of the problem for CMSWire. He points to what a great deal of independent research has been uncovering this year; notably that technology won’t solve the problem of data management if there is no effective information strategy in place. It’s worth quoting in full here:

Yet despite all the great things happening in information management, it seems like most firms are as bad managing information as they’ve ever been — and in some ways worse: terabytes (or petabytes) of legacy content rotting on legacy systems, many of which were “replaced” almost a decade ago but never decommissioned; insanely expensive shelf ware intended originally to manage information or processes or both, but never adopted by end users; and an explosion of tools and repositories driven by a federated model of SharePoint deployment and the consumerization of IT. The end result being ever more information being not managed properly in an ever-expanded set of tools, to the detriment of the entire organization."

One comment posted by a reader in response to Shepley’s article hit on another problem that has dominated the information management space this year. The poster, Martin White, pointed out that the fundamental problem is that the senior management team does not regard information as an asset.

It doesn't show on the balance sheet, you can't do a DCF (Discounted Cash Flow) on its lifetime value and you have absolutely no idea how much you have. The amount of storage is not the same as the amount of information that is current and can be trusted," White wrote.

We have come across the issue of C-Suite failure to engage in developing clear and forward looking information management strategies before on numerous occasions over the past few years. It is also clear that single, enterprise-wide strategies are getting harder to nail down particularly as each of the areas that Shepley identifies as problematic like cloud computing, or mobile management are in the process of developing as technology spaces in their own right.

Technologies on the Rise

One of the other ongoing disruptive changes that we have seen over the year and which Garter has identified as one of the converging technologies, is cloud computing.

Gartner published yet another list of predictions for 2015 in October, pointing to some of the technologies that will become increasingly important in the information management space.

CMSWire staff writer Dom Nicastro dug a little bit deeper into Gartner’s predictions and found that social, mobile, cloud, and Information will all converge next year, becoming strategic for most organizations and delivering a significant impact over the next three years.

Gartner released the list at its Symposium/ITxpo this year and pointed out that the identified technologies are likely to cause major disruption in the IT department and will force enterprises to make major investments in technology. Presenting the findings during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner noted they would disrupt IT or the business and require a major dollar investment.

“This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the listed technologies," Gartner's David Cearley said in a statement. "But companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.” The list is as follows:

  • Mobile Device Diversity and Management
  • Mobile Apps and Applications
  • The Internet of Everything
  • Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker
  • Cloud/Client Architecture
  • Back To Basics

If a lot of this looks aspirational at the moment there are already signs that enterprises are beginning to assess and budget for many of these technologies already. But in a world where even the basics are creating problems the question has to be asked as to whether enterprises should be going in this direction at all or whether they should focus on the basics.

Back to Basics

In AIIM’s (Association for Information and Image Management) yearly look at the enterprise content management industry, for example, a comprehensive survey of the industry found that the paperless office is still to a large extent a dream.

In the face of this, AIIM has recommended that enterprises should forget about the paperless office, at least for the moment, and focus on making their processes paperless, one at time to push things along.

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AIIM is a global community of information professionals. The research is the result of a global survey of 336 AIIM members between September and October of this year. According to Doug Miles, report author and director of market intelligence, paper documents are still clogging offices and stalling business processes even though office workers are mobile, computer literate and aware that paper-free processes improve productivity and lower costs.

The Problem with WCM

But it’s not just document management that faced problems this year. The enterprise content management space is also in flux and, according to Laurence Hart, the industry needs to decide exactly where it is going.

Specifically, it needs to separate Web Content Management from enterprise content management (ECM). According to Hart, it has become increasingly obvious that Web Content Management (WCM) requires a Content Management System (CMS) designed specifically for managing web content.

In the meantime, the ECM industry is fighting to maintain its relevance as the end-all, be-all of content management. The all or nothing approach worked well a decade ago, Hart says, but people are demanding changes from software at a rate that large ECM vendors cannot deliver.

Cloud Moves

Needless to say, the cloud space, at this point in time is no longer ‘new’ computing, but competition in the space is intensifying. If Google, Amazon and IBM have been playing since the beginning, Microsoft has been a little bit slower off the mark than the others.

However, if it has been slower that its competitors in developing cloud platforms, its focus this year on developing hybrid clouds is timely given that most analysts believe that there will be a long period of hybrid cloud computing before enterprises are ready to go pure cloud.

The result was a deepening of the existing partnership between Accenture and Microsoft. The new partnership resulted in the introduction of Accenture Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure enabling enterprises to manage applications between private and public clouds.

The new hybrid offering was developed along with Avanade, an IT services provider that Microsoft and Accenture set up in 2000. Together, the companies are co-funding and co-engineering the platform with new hybrid technologies and services to help enterprises build and manage enterprise-wide cloud infrastructure and applications.

This is a significant move in the hybrid space. Even Satya Nadella weighed in on it with a video outlining Microsoft’s position on the release.

Of course anything cloud related will get special treatment by Nadella, given his vision for Microsoft's future is encapsulated in a Cloud First, Mobile First mantra, with a lot more on this strategy on the way next year.

The problem boils down to this: no matter how interested enterprises may be, many are not ready to make the jump to full cloud computing.

Red Hot EFSS

One other technology and trend to watch next year that straddles the bridge between social business and information management and which has evolved dramatically over the past year is Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) platforms

Virginia Backaitis followed the development of EFSS solutions development over the year and found that, at least for 451 Research, this is a market that is really shifting into overdrive.

According to the research, EFSS solutions are overhyped and underplayed at present, having moved from a consumer-grade novelty to a technology that has the enterprise’s attention and will have long-term viability.

In other words, enterprise IT ought to pay attention because it’s likely that EFSS solutions will become as ubiquitous as search solutions.

These are just some of the emerging trends in the information management space at the moment, and without even looking at Office 365 or big data, which is covered elsewhere.

How this all plays out over the year is anyone’s guess, even if many research companies are trying to nail down where it is going. It’s a cliché, but in terms of information management the only accurate thing that can be said is that time will tell.

Title image by Jason Powell  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.