shutterstock_78090739.jpgWhen you think about how highly we value things like enterprise content sharing and digital asset management, it’s really a wonder our parents were ever able to function in business at all. No ECM, no DAM, no ERM, no CMS -- succeeding in the acronym-starved Dark Ages of Business must have been tough. 

Looking for the Next Big Thing

Business is very different now. We have ready access to pretty much every technical convenience a company could ask for. But instead of making do, and honing our personal skills to differentiate ourselves from one another, we look to tech news sources to fix us up with whatever new buzzword promises to preserve our competitive or creative edge.

We like buzzwords because they fool us into thinking things are moving forward. New acronyms feed our addiction to possibilities, and they also offer a convenient excuse for why things might not be perfect now: “We’re missing deadlines and losing files because we don’t have a DAM.”

Marketing people (like this author) tweet, plus, like and otherwise promote whatever’s new until everyone’s talking about it -- even if nobody knows why. Before you know it, you’re Googling “enterprise content sharing” because you figure that without enterprise content sharing (whatever the hell it is), conducting business will become virtually impossible.

The pressure mounts until it becomes impossible to ignore your company’s now urgent need for yet another new buzzword technology. You discuss it in staff meetings and you do your research. And god forbid your CEO learns the new buzzword in an in-flight magazine before you’re ready to move on it. (You know there’s no better way to derail a CEO off a business plan than for him to learn a new buzzword from an in-flight magazine.)

The fact is, buzzwords have become corporate crack. We pursue them, often without any clear reason or need. And one is never enough. Partnerships, APIs and software integrations are gateway drugs into entirely new dependencies.

And you know what? Our parents are laughing at us.

Hiding Behind the Buzzwords

In their day, B2B vendor “solutions” were about getting showroom floors cleaner, or providing the best erasable-ink pens in the world. Business people had to leverage intelligence, relationships and creative thinking in order to solve business problems. Our impulse today is to throw software at every snag we encounter. It’s enough to make one think that our overly-automated businesses would function better if we all just stayed home.

Here’s a joke from the Aviation industry: Cockpit crews of the future will consist of a pilot and a dog. The pilot will be there to feed the dog, and the dog will be there to bite the pilot in case she tries to touch the controls.

And there you have today’s enterprise. We have put so many layers of technology between us and the world around us that we’ve lost touch. Is your marketing automated? Is your production pipeline version-controlled and backed up to the Cloud? Do you feel compelled to read and retweet articles about SharePoint, even if you still have no idea what SharePoint is or does?

Does anyone reading this article even use the “Number of Kids” field that’s built into your CRM?

Probably not.

So What Do We Do?

First off, we have to admit that we’ve become powerless over technology and the marketing departments and journalists that promote it.

Next, we have to learn to adopt and use technology in moderation, because it can be a very good thing. Do you want leads to find and nurture themselves? Of course you do. Do you want to be able to accurately forecast next year’s revenue based on some forecasting model that knows more about your business than you could possibly ever know? Certainly you do, assuming it makes nice charts.

The trouble starts when we use buzzword technology as a medication to hide the symptoms of problems we don’t want to deal with, or don’t fully understand. In doing so, we obscure troublesome business processes that need to be addressed.

And no buzzword on earth can fix a bad business process.

So, if you’re still jonesing for a fix of enterprise content sharing, here’s an exercise that will offer you a healthy dose of just that:

  1. Ask the department heads at your organization to work with their teams to come up with a document that describes the business processes their respective departments would use if digital technology wasn’t an option.
  2. Review those documents with your coworkers and see if you can fix any processes that don’t make total sense.
  3. Using those improved business processes as a baseline, consider what specific advantages technology -- buzzword-compliant or otherwise -- could bring.
  4. Find technology that offers those specific advantages without complicating things further.

That’s the kind of enterprise-wide content sharing and collaborating that paid the mortgage and kept you fed when you were a kid.

Let’s fix ourselves before we lose ourselves in technology.

Title image courtesy of marekuliasz (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: This is the second article by David. Why not see where it all began? Digital Asset Management's Missing Context of Discussion