Making Information Governance Pay

Lots of MoneyIn May, I will be speaking on a panel on The Economics of a Successful ILG Program at the Document Strategy Forum in Connecticut. When Joe Shepley first asked me to speak, I was a little hesitant. Explaining how a successful Information Governance program contributes to the bottom line has been one of the greatest challenges for the industry.

Joe assured me that it would be easy. This is the same Joe that wrote that nobody cares about compliance because it doesn’t pay. I heartily concurred with that assessment. Now I am talking about how it does pay.

What have I done?

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ARMA Calls for a Revolution

I’ve been talking for a while about how we need to mix things up in the space. Records Management as we know it is dead and it has dragged Enterprise Content Management (ECM) down with it. We need to completely change things to get back on track.

While I was attending the ARMA conference, ARMA’s president, Julie Colgan, said that Records Management needed to evolve. I said that it wasn’t enough. Records Managers need to revolt against the system and change things. Julie saw the comment on twitter and promised a response.

Well, today Julie gave a response.

I also believe that RIM needs a revolution, but in order to get there, we first need the professionals in the space to be ready to revolt.

Let’s face it. As much as Records Management, and ECM as a whole, has failed, the needs for proper Information Governance has not changed. Organizations still have the same requirements.

We need to work WITH the Records Management professionals. We need to work together to find a way to meet the requirements of the organization while addressing the central failure point, which is that existing solutions make every employee a Records Manager.

They don’t want to be Records Managers.

I personally welcome ARMA to the battle. The members of ARMA have knowledge that we need. They also have ideas. I saw many speakers at the conference calling for a new approach. We need to learn how to relieve people from the burden of managing records to allow them to focus upon their jobs.

Shall we start a revolution together?

[Note: For a webinar discussion inspired by this post, head over here.]

Making Records Management Simple at ARMA

Next week I will be at the ARMA Conference in Vegas. While I will be there in support of Alfresco, I have a secondary purpose. I want to brainstorm with attendees on how we can make Records Management (RM) simple.

The reason is straightforward. Adoption of RM systems by end-users is horrible. We have spent most of the past two decades forcing non-Records Managers to act and think as Records Managers. It is a failed approach. We need to work on creative ways to shift from a world where success is the exception to where success is the rule.

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The Ugly Truth Behind Compliance and Records Management

Yesterday, Joe Shepley wrote an incredible post on the simple fact that No One Cares about Compliance. While an overstatement, it is true. When it comes time to invest the money, organizations don’t care.

Sure, everyone sees the need, but they don’t do it. It is too hard, too expensive, and prone to failure. There are too many project with a better promise of success. If those things weren’t true, everyone would be compliant and conferences like ARMA would be celebrations of success, not spent drowning sorrows in beer.

Yesterday, Joe shared some realities from his time in the field. I’m going to do the same.

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Does Records Management Give Content Management a Bad Name?

I’ve been ranting on and off for a while that Information Management has failed because we haven’t met the needs of the user. This is leaving the market open for the Cloud vendors to try and disrupt the Content Management market.

What I haven’t delved into is that the primary reason we have been failing is also the key to the potential success of the Cloud vendors…Records Management.

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Information Management has Failed

New PictureIn March, I gave a keynote at the annual AIIM Conference. It was based upon my post, Silicon Valley’s War on the Enterprise. I’ve been hoping to share the video with everyone, but that doesn’t seem probable due to some bad luck.

Given that it is a very text-light presentation, I am going to try something new. I’m going to walked you through the whole thing…..

This is War

Seriously, it is.

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Silicon Valley’s War on the Enterprise

There is a war being waged in organizations across the world. What started off as simple attempts to make things easier for mobile users has escalated into a full-fledge attack on the Enterprise.

New Picture (1)Silicon Valley has declared war.

Oh, they haven’t made such a bold declaration. Well, not most of them. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a war taking place. It also doesn’t mean that the war is such a bad thing. After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who said,

Every generation needs a new Revolution.

If you ask anyone in the Valley, they’ll say that they only mean to help. They believe it when they say that they come in peace.

Which they don’t.

They mean to take almost everything we’ve done the last couple of decades, throw it out, and “install” their vision of the future.

Don’t get me wrong, they have the same desire to improve things as Steve Jobs, their idol, did last decade for consumer electronics. Unfortunately for the Enterprise, replacing your Content Management System (CMS) is slightly more complicated than changing phones.

Especially when the new CMS doesn’t deliver the 9x improvement we’ve come to expect from the consumer revolution.

Ripe for Conquest

Let’s face some hard truths. Enterprise software, especially Content Management, hasn’t exactly been a slam dunk success. Many IT projects fail and they still take too long to finish, even when executed properly.

The reason is that they are complex. The systems insert themselves into the workday and don’t always deliver enough new functionality to justify the added burden. Do not forget that it often appears that “User Experience” seems to be a foreign concept to many vendors.

To be fair, the complexity doesn’t start with the vendors. Have you seen some of the Record Plans out there? They aren’t quick reads. When buying CMSs with Records Management (RM) features, or a stand-alone RM system, that complexity is forced upon the vendors.

I cannot tell you how many organizations I have been to with STRICT Records Management requirements that barely have basic Content Management under control. I’m not talking years ago, I’m talking recently.

There are real issues out there, making Enterprise IT ripe for attack.

Complexity through Simplicity

This opportunity has been targeted by Silicon Valley. Their approach is simple. They allow users to do basic business activities, without complexity. Soon, a significant portion of your staff are using this software. Like a good espionage unit, agents from the Valley are in your organization laying the groundwork for a revolution.

There isn’t only one cloud vendor infiltrating your organization. This is leading to the first problem, which is “cloud sprawl”. Remember when every office had its own systems? Now imagine every user or project using their own system. Chaos.

Once your organization is ripe for takeover, the cloud vendors swoop in and promise everything will be better if you just commit and make the switch.  At this point, you just want only one of these cloud vendors creating chaos, not 3-4 of them. You sign the contract, embracing the chaos.

Then things start to get more complicated. Remember all those complex requirements to meet your legal requirements? Those needs have to met in other systems because the cloud providers can’t support those features and they cannot be customized to implement them.

Now there are redundant systems that are in place strictly to meet those requirements. Want them to talk to each other, good luck. The cloud vendors may love creating APIs for you to use but they don’t seem to care about support the industry interoperability standards. You can make the systems work together, but you have to do the work and maintain the code.

Have fun.

A Truce?

We need a truce in this war. Silicon Valley and the Enterprise need to work together. Things are broken but the systems can’t just be bulldozed to make way for a new world. There is a middle ground and both sides acknowledge it.

If you are going to the AIIM Conference in March, you can hear me talk more about the war during my keynote. This war is going to define IT in 2013 and I’m hoping we can negotiate a truce.

Records Management and the Cloud

imageIt should be obvious to you if you’ve spent any time on this blog that I firmly believe the cloud is the future. It solves so many of the stumbling blocks and time consuming tasks that people face during implementations and ongoing growth that it is silly to think of a different future in the face of overwhelming volumes of information.

Still, things aren’t perfect in the world of the cloud. As of this writing, there is no system with solid Records Management (RM) capabilities. Sure, some older vendors offer hosted solutions but those aren’t cloud solutions, merely hosted.

The reason for this is two-fold. The first is that the current crop of cloud vendors are growing fairly quickly without RM features. The second, the calling card of vendors like Box is simplicity and Records Management is traditionally not simple.

The first reason is going to fade over the next couple of years. Before that happens, how do cloud vendors address the second issue? How do they make it simple for the users?

By changing the equation.

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Checking the Industry Trends

I was playing with Google Trends the other day. I was curious what terms people were searching for on Google and how they related to the terms we seem to throw around the industry. This particular bout of curiosity stemmed from distinguishing between the technology and the business problems that people are trying to solve.

The first search was a set of standard terms we use when we talk about what we do on a regular basis.

  • Content Management, 1.00
  • Information Management, 1.52
  • Records Management, 0.32
  • ECM, 1.26 (Enterprise Content Management got 0.02)

It is a pretty consistent downward trend across the board. We can hypothesize as to why they are trending down, but I suspect it relates to the saturation of the term among those in the technology industry.

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The Content Management Expert Paradox

Several weeks ago, Alan Pelz-Sharpe tweeted an observation that I have observed many times that is paradoxical in nature.

Many/Most CMS projects fail, but few/any CMS professionals have ever worked on a failed project :-)

While this quote was likely referencing more Web Content Management (WCM) efforts than the broader world of Content Management, I have noticed this as well. In fact, this is something that seems to be true among all branches of Content Management.

Aside from people hiding their failures, I think there is an additional factor.

Failure begets Transition.

Before I dive into that, I will now confess to my least successful projects. I am only listing projects where I had a significant role and am aware of the final outcome for the project.

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