Another year and another AIIM Conference in the bag. It was a good year as the industry seems to be slowly coming to the realization that while content is a problem, the solution is to solve the business problem, not necessarily the content problem.
The industry entered AIIM17 with a debate over whether Content Services or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) should be the default name for the industry. The speakers, and attendees, basically uttered a massive, “Who cares?” We are solving problems and learning how to make sure that not just information can be found. Valuable information can be found.
A common refrain that I hear is the statement, “I need a new content management system.” I often nod in understanding because most organizations have challenges with their current systems. Understanding that you have a problem is a great first step in determining a solution. It is during the second step of the procurement process when organizations introduce problems.
Skipping the Why
Most organizations skip over the why phase. They may automatically define “the why” as their system is broken. This overlooks many possibilities. Was the software implemented correctly? Were people trained? Has the system been maintained? Are there processes in place to modify the system as the organization evolves?
One of our core solutions at TeraThink is Information Management. It is a term that we, and the industry, use to encompass a large collection of skills and expertise centered around content and information. Information Management is also a critical part of everything organizations do every day.
How do we define that collection of skills? Stated from a high level:
Information Management (IM) is a strategy for the coordinated management of all information throughout an organization, allowing for people and systems to find and use information from within any business context.
The goal is to provide people the right information at the right time and be confident that nothing is being overlooked. We make sure that information flows as needed between every system and process. Whether we are talking about governance, content, or digital transformation, IM is at the heart of every project and sets up long-term success for our clients.
This year’s Information Governance Conference (InfoGovCon) in Providence, RI last week was a great experience and I was excited to represent TeraThink at it. During what is quickly becoming the premier event in the industry, a milestone was marked in the evolution of the information governance industry. Loaded with some amazing speakers, the conference had a feeling of an industry who is trying new ideas and advocating for a complete change to how we approach the management, and subsequent governance, of information.
The key focal point was on the people working with information in our organizations. How can we remove the friction between people and the content management systems (CMS) that we implement? Specifically, how can we use design thinking to improve the user experience? This new focus on design and people was present in keynotes, individual talks, and in the hallway conversations. While there were still a lot of war stories shared, there was an underpinning of hope that we can make real progress.
Next week I’ll be representing TeraThink at the 3rd annual Information Governance Conference (InfoGovCon) in Providence, Rhode Island on October 12 and 13. I have attended the previous conferences, and as with the annual AIIM conference, simply sharing ideas and stories with the other attendees is worth the trip. This year I have an additional reason for attending, I am delivering the closing keynote on the first day.
I am pretty excited about this opportunity. When the Information Coalition, the organizers, contacted me about speaking. I was very excited. I spoke the first year at InfoGovCon and was interested in delivering a follow-up talk. Delivering the follow-up as a keynote is an unexpected honor.
There has been talk of creating enterprise content management (ECM) platforms for years. They typically do not live up to the hype or expectations. The upfront investment typically required dooms most projects before they deploy their first business solution. It has reached the point where if an organization wants to implement ECM I typically walk away if I cannot persuade them otherwise.
That doesn’t mean that the need for ECM platforms don’t exist. Given the ever increasing creation of content today, it is even more important to be able to rapidly solve content-centric problems without creating numerous content silos. What is needed is an alternate approach to gaining the benefits of an ECM platform without forcing a big-bang approach to ECM with its large upfront investment.
The answer is to pick an ECM system the same way an organization picks a database system. Choose based upon the system’s ability to scale and meet the needs of the organization. An open API (application programming interface) allows the exposure of content services that can be used to add content capabilities to other applications and to build new solutions. Being open allows an organization to move forward without worrying information being bound to that system forever.
Over the past decade, the majority of organizations have made investments in SharePoint, either as a content management or business collaboration platform. This trend has continued with Microsoft’s latest release, SharePoint 2013, and the steady growth in Office 365 subscriptions. The continued popularity of the SharePoint platform is somewhat perplexing, given the rate at which SharePoint implementations fail to meet user expectations.
SharePoint appears simple from the outside, and to be fair, it is pretty easy to get up and running out-of-the-box. It is in this simplicity, however, where the danger lies, ready to ruin great ideas. Given the relatively low up-front cost and effort, organizations frequently underestimate the complexity and effort it requires to deliver a successful SharePoint solution. In fact, according to a recent AIIM survey[i], only 6% of respondents consider their SharePoint projects successful, while 61% have either failed, stalled or are struggling. The most common barriers to success mentioned were lack of expertise, lack of vision, poor user adoption, and lack of governance.
If you’re reading this thinking “wow, that sounds familiar”, you’re not alone. The first step in revitalizing your SharePoint project, or avoiding these common missteps in a new implementation that you’re planning, is getting a better understanding of what went wrong and why. While there is no single secret to turning around your project, we strongly believe that asking a few key questions around the most common barriers is a good way to start addressing these challenges.