In 2010 Information Management Solution providers will battle over who “owns” organizational data. IM solutions merge structured and unstructured content ecosystems as customers seek tools to support information access across all major content repositories.
Back in the 90’s when Enterprise Content Management (ECM), e-mail archiving, records management (RM) solutions and Web applications were emerging, large-scale implementations required lots of money and time to satisfy an organization’s unique business requirements, integration needs, and, perhaps, the egos of the sponsoring executives.
In the last decade, reducing the time and resources it takes to find, cull, mine, analyze, or “discover” information has become a mission-critical activity. Drivers include competitive pressures, the desire to contain costs, compliance, and legal requirements as well as the need to manage and access growing portfolios of too often siloed structured and unstructured data.
And while so-called structured data associated with relational databases, CRM, and ERP solutions continues to grow rapidly, unstructured data - especially documents, emails and other forms of messaging, images, voice and Web content - continues to expand at an alarming rate. Some experts estimate unstructured data is doubling every 18 months within the average enterprise. Therefore, the need to manage and curb the growth or unstructured data has become a primary mission of enterprises of all sizes.
”AIIM's annual State of the ECM Industry research found that compared to recent years, cost saving has taken a clear lead over compliance as the main business driver for investments in document and records management. E-mail is still out of control, with 55% of organizations having little or no confidence that important e-mails are recorded, complete, and retrievable. Management of content types like SMS/text messages, blogs, and wikis are largely off the corporate radar in 75% of organizations, and their lack of inclusion in the corporate archive is a major risk.”
Unfortunately, the vast majority of current enterprise unstructured data management (UDM) implementations are characterized by too many point solutions implemented to plug holes – the finger in the dike strategy – and too little planning - “Reactive Mode”. This is overwhelmingly the case with compliance, litigation support, and e-discovery solutions but also prevalent across the ECM, RM, and message management solutions spectrum.
What Users Need
Meanwhile, growth of data stores and associated business processes has created compelling management opportunities for customers and solutions providers alike. Users and solutions buyers want out of the integration business and need to decrease costs while reducing risks. User requirements include:
- Access to information across multiple heterogeneous repositories (federated and unified),
- Interoperability across departmental solutions (CRM, ECM, ERP, Legal, RM, etc.),
- Choice of hosted, hybrid or on-premise systems (Appliance, SaaS, Cloud),
- Policy management to meet compliance and regulatory needs (GLBA, HIPAA, SEC),
- Security (access, authentication, data loss prevention, back up and recovery),
- Availability, scalability and speed-to-discovery (Next Gen Info Architectures, grid),
- Data management (archive, delete, move, etc.)
Both users and solution providers agree that the first step in meeting enterprise requirements for turning data into useful information, after defining the goals and mission of the entity and the project, is to understand how to support the workflow of the individuals in the organization. Among the list of things consultants and solution providers recommend are:
- Applying a proven methodology to define roles, responsibilities, and workflow,
- Listing business, economic, industry, regulatory drivers that may effect job functions,
- Creating “personas” in each job category that catalogue activities and responsibilities.
Consultants and solution providers use modeling tools, such as IBM’s Rational Suite, 3D Blueprinting, Metastorm, Lombardi and other popular Business Process Management (BPM) tool suites for mapping organizational functions, their processes, workflow, and information infrastructures. Most all of the major ECM integrators, OEM software providers and the BPM subset sphere, have fairly tried and true modeling capabilities today. This process can support the development of:
- Strategic technology roadmaps,
- Governance plans and models,
- Workflow modeling and redesign,
- Business process modeling,
- Analysis and artifacts definition,
- Cross-functional product integrations,
- Business rules and task management.
It is a given that most entities have a huge investment in legacy information management platforms that they want to leverage wherever possible. It is also very common for entities to have multiple archival, ECM, CRM, ERP, and litigation support solutions. And no one solutions provider has a truly end-to-end information management solution from infrastructure through applications and support. Therefore, buyers need to select a systems integrator (SI) that can leverage existing assets, support the people and process management pieces, build or integrate connectors to disparate solutions, offer ongoing support, and “tune” the entire solution.
Larger organizations with complex infrastructures and massive amounts of data tend to turn to vendors such as Accenture, HP, IBM or Unisys that have experience acting as the primary SI or project manager for complicated implementations - that can easily take a year or more to complete - and also have products (hardware, software, connectors) to support customers needs. Unisys in particular provides a cross-section of products and services for government and financial applications, including its InfoImage solution, for which it built a SharePoint connector. Unisys also partners with major content management suppliers and partners such as EMC. Services provided by the above group and perhaps others that users will want to consider include:
- Content architecture & taxonomy,
- Content/document management design,
- Records management and retention services,
- Systems integration and security services,
- ECM & BPM implementation & managed services,
- Records & content management architecture,
- Information lifecycle management (ILM) services,
- Managed services, outsourcing, and ECM hosting,
- ECM hardware and platform architecture,
The success of vendors in the information management/access space largely will depend on their ability not only to integrate legacy solutions with newer offerings but also to provide customers with a holistic approach incorporating business best practices, workflow, and processes to supply a more end-to-end solution that meets the client's unique requirements.
Action Item: Users need to review their information management and governance strategies, workflow, and processes, along with their solutions portfolio, to determine where enhancements or changes are necessary and what applications should be integrated, replaced, or retired. Users should expect a long, ongoing process that will last at least a year and likely longer for connectors, indexes, search, and classification capabilities, and other integration points to be fully functional.