2015-13-February-Uphill-Climb.jpgAlthough technology is one of the great enablers, for every issue it addresses, it brings new ones to replace it. Take information management. It has changed beyond recognition over the last decade. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems have made the storing, management and use of traditional content easier than it would ever have been thought possible.

But other technologies have meant that the sheer volume of content in a modern enterprise is growing at a rate that makes keeping track of every last plan, proposal, video, tweet, email, white paper and article a thankless task.  

We're regularly reminded how important it is in the digital economy to manage these information assets. But many organizations we speak with feel like they are drowning in a sea of content and information. File servers are overflowing and multiplying and organizations are concerned about the likelihood and implications of information leaks.

Put simply, cloud and mobile have altered everything, not least information management.

Cloud: Opportunity and Threat

The cloud isn't new, but remains a constant source of threat and opportunity for many organizations. And with a major platform war under way between vendors, that’s not about to change any time soon.
All the platform vendors have bet their future on the cloud. At this point in the cloud's evolution, the vendors are way ahead of the user community. So Google, Microsoft and IBM are all looking at ways to lock organizations into their cloud platforms.

There will be no escape from the cloud, but security risks arise from information management in the cloud. A recent AIIM research paper -- "Content Collaboration and Processing in a Cloud and Mobile World" -- showed how businesses that are eager to embrace collaboration and sharing of content hold back due to security fears.

Document and content sharing usually involves external collaborators, yet traditional on-premises systems have been deliberately set up to prevent access to those outside of the business. This results in users turning to consumer cloud file-sharing services such as Dropbox, Skydrive, i-Cloud, Google Drive and YouSendIt. These carry security threats, and leave CIOs with concerns about business critical information leaking outside the organization.

Mobile Challenges

Mobile offers a similar story of opportunity and threat. Remote access plays a big part in information sharing and collaboration. And that access has to take place across a whole host of mobile devices. 

Many organizations see mobile access to content as vital, especially the ability to interact with ECM workflows -- commenting, approving and editing documents. Employees are driving this move towards mobile too, motivated by changing working patterns and a desire to achieve a better work - life balance by working outside the traditional 9 to 5 workday. Companies view mobile device support for knowledge workers as an enhancement to productivity and process efficiency. But always-on mobile connectivity -- across multiple devices and operating systems -- brings its own set of challenges.

Cloud and mobile have truly altered everything. They change our expectations of where we can work, when we can work, with whom we can work and on what devices we can work. Addressing this in an information management sense is a challenge. But not an insurmountable one.

Information Management in 2015

Hybrid cloud models are one way of retaining some of the benefits of the cloud while minimizing the risk. While a number of organizations would be wary of putting all their content in the cloud, people generally feel more comfortable about using a hybrid model.

Hybrid models hold business critical content securely on-premises and the more active, collaborative content is moved to the cloud. Offering enterprise grade cloud file sharing services would be a significant step for many organizations too, preventing the need to use consumer-grade alternatives.

Addressing issues of information governance is a further challenge. The basis of good information governance is a sound and solid information governance policy -- technology needs to be given rules. A comprehensive information governance policy covers multiple types of content, including content-in-motion -- on USB sticks, in the cloud, on mobiles and so on.

But perhaps the main challenge with information management in 2015, is that mobile and cloud technologies increase the volume, variety and velocity of information. This makes obtaining true business insight from it -- finding opportunity from among the information chaos -- a key objective for most organizations. This is a challenging path, but ultimately a rewarding one. A productized analytics toolset is key to achieving this opportunity, particularly if it is well integrated with existing content and search systems.

Information management in 2015 is not easy. It has been changed forever by the cloud and mobile waves of technology. But by combining content and processes in new and unexpected ways, organizations can dramatically mitigate risk, reduce process costs, better engage with customers, employees and partners, and transform information into insight.  

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  Giorgio Galeotti