woman drenched with water

The field of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) has faced numerous challenges in 2015 but one stands out: The amount of information that organizations tried to collect and store began to dramatically outpace their ability to manage and manipulate it in meaningful ways.

The problem isn’t new but the headline this year is the degree to which it has worsened.

Contributing to the feeling that organizations spent the year trying to drink from a fire hose?

The ongoing growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) with its massive amounts of sensor data, the data generated by social media and the increasing use of big data sets to generate customer insights.

Mickey Mouse as Metaphor

The famous Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene from Disney’s 1940 animated masterpiece, Fantasia vividly depicts the problem.

In the film, Mickey Mouse slaves away in the sorcerer’s workshop schlepping heavy buckets of water until his boss departs, leaving his magic hat behind. Mickey dons the hat, conjures a broom to life to carry the buckets and then falls dreamily asleep.

He wakes to discover that the room is nearly underwater and the broom is marching on autopilot as it continues to fill and empty bucket after bucket.

Mickey’s efforts to stop the broom only make matters worse and even breaking the broom into a thousand splintered pieces only results in more brooms emptying more pails of water at a faster pace.

The very annoyed sorcerer returns in the nick of time to save Mickey, but how have enterprises been coping with their metaphorical information flood this past year? Here’s a look back at some of the thought leadership that appeared in CMSWire this past year as well as some potential vendor solutions on the horizon for 2016.

The Cost of Data Dungeons

CMSWire contributor, Carla O’Brien Mulley, a 30-year technology veteran who worked at IBM as a senior level systems engineer, pointed out earlier this year that 90 percent of businesses don’t know what information they have or what it contains.

"Most don’t know what [data] lurks in the dungeons of [their] abandoned servers — and couldn’t find it if they tried. And yet they keep it, they migrate it and they buy more storage to hold it," she wrote.

To manage it they hold onto it, with the result that over the next five years, the amount of unstructured content in storage will grow by 800 percent, estimated Mulley. And the cost of those petabytes adds up: Mulley estimated that keeping one petabyte plugged in and available would cost a typical enterprise user $5 million per year without factoring in additional costs related to privacy, security, migration, compliance and litigation.

Defining Information Management

Many of our contributors this past year have argued that understanding the role and potential of information will be far more important than the precise applications enterprises may use to manage it.

Lane Severson, EIM Practice Lead at Doculabs noted in a post this year that, “If we are going to have a productive discussion about information management we should define our terms, we should be consistent in our application of those terms and we should check our answers by comparing [them] to more mature managerial disciplines.”

Severson added that what has passed for information management to date has been technology management:

"Information management is a discipline that [must be] owned primarily by managers and not an ancillary function like IT. [Information management must be integrated] into the broader responsibilities of management and not treated as a separate [or] secondary responsibility."

Quantifying the Disconnect

Sue Trombley, Managing Director of Thought Leadership at Iron Mountain, told CMSWire that she thinks the root of the problem lies in how the management and managers of information fit into enterprise strategies.

For example, research carried out for Iron Mountain by PwC, showed a huge disconnect between how organizations think they use and manage their information and how they actually do.

While a whopping 75 percent of organizations believe that they have information governance under control and are making the most of their information assets, only a paltry four percent actually succeed in doing so.

Trombley added that new technologies — cloud computing, advanced capture technologies, social media and data challenges associated with the mobile enterprise ― have changed how enterprises manage their data.

Legacy ECM Strains

Alfresco co-founder and CTO John Newton pointed in particular to disruption in the enterprise content management space.

In an interview with CMSWire, he pointed out that the rate of digital innovation is now so fast that legacy ECM platforms originally designed for document management and other kinds of static content can’t keep pace anymore.

"[Those ECM] technologies were architected at a time when users and content stayed behind the firewall, on servers and PCs,” he wrote. Now, enterprises need to rethink about how they are going to manage content in a digital world that extends well beyond the limits of the organization.

This echoed the thinking of Nuxeo CEO Eric Barroca, who pointed out in an interview with CMSWire that ECM systems now have to manage so-called “deep content” ― content that improves the way we work, creates new lines of business and enhances insight, agility and actionability on business processes.

This trend toward demanding more functionality from ECM systems will only become more pronounced in the future according to Barroca.

Teeing Up Some Solutions

The good news for 2016 is that vendors operating in the information management space are already responding to these challenges.

In November, OpenText announced the release of Suite 16 and OpenText Cloud 16, will enable OpenText’s EIM solutions to be deployed on-premises, in the cloud and in hybrid environments.

“Digital disruption is fundamentally changing the way organizations interact with customers and approach to their businesses,” OpenText CEO Mark J. Barrenechea told the audience at OpenWorld when announcing the release.

M-Files has also been looking at better and more efficient technologies to manage information. Its solutions are built on metadata and harness the ability to find information based on that metadata. Now, the demands of digital workers and work is pushing M-Files beyond their traditional domain behind enterprise firewalls.

Greg Milliken, Vice President of Marketing at M-Files, told CMSWire that M-Files hopes to have some of that extended functionality available by the end of 2016.

Of all vendors across the space which have been actively looking at ways to holistically manage information across enterprises, Microsoft was particularly effective with Office 365 this past year.

Between November 2013 and June 2015 it surpassed not only Salesforce as the most used app in the cloud, but also pushed past Google Apps and Box in a survey of nearly four thousand off-the-shelf business apps.

Title image by Ryan McGuire