Information Governance, Moving on from Content


Has Content build holding us prisoner, making us miss the bigger picture?When I dove into the debate on Content Services and ECM, my conclusion was fairly straightforward.

Look at your information flow. Follow it and find new ways to make it flow faster. If you can do that and know where your information is at anytime, you are done.

There is a lot of detail buried under that relatively straightforward statement. Content Services is part of a broader trend in the content management space and is here to stay. It has been here since CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) entered the picture almost a decade ago but now people are seeing it as more than a way to integrate systems.

The problem is that ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is still just part of the picture. Even if we use the latest tools without regard to the latest buzz words that define them. If we just focus on the content we are failing to solve what needs to be solved.

Information First

Here’s the deal. Content never stands alone. Yes it has metadata but there are entities that need to be managed that may not have content. Consider:

  • Process Documents: Think of an invoice. It comes into the organization and follows a very defined process. This is the foundation for the entire industry. The process may start before any content is created.
  • Case Documents: While the fervor has died down, case management still matters. Many things are a collection of documents and the information about the collection, and the ad-hoc nature of the work, still matters.
  • Collaborative Content: Most of this content could be shoe-horned into case management but nobody doing the work thinks of it that way. Projects and teams use content in multiple ways to achieve an evolving goal. Having a place to go and work towards that goal, along with all the related information, is important.
  • Digital Assets: Digital assets can be part of any of the previous three instances. The difference is that digital assets have a lot of special requirements around licensing, source, and usage (to name a few) that adds a layer of complexity.

A lot of this content crosses streams. A contract is part of a sale, collaboratively worked on by multiple parties, subject to process review, and needed in a workspace for the team delivering what was promised in the contract. Building one system to serve all of those needs is complex. Have a Contract Management System is useful to address the legal requirements but then the content needs to be served to the other locations.

You aren’t going to have only one solution to this unless you ignore the problems and force the technology. That will leave you with strong systems that serves the IT department, not the people who need a solution.

In each context, there is more information related to the piece of content. Sometimes it is a collection of documents. The result is that when it is time to manage the content, we need to manage the entire context. We need to manage the information.

We need Information Governance

ECM is one aspect of Information Governance. If you can’t manage content, you can’t manage the context that it lives within. You can’t apply different rules to the same information just because it lives in a database instead of a declared record.

When we manage items, we need to manage the entire context. We need to be able to reach into the database and the CMS (Content Management System) in order to manage things as a coherent whole.

Of course this is tricky. Databases aren’t designed to be managed like formal records. Data sets are managed. Content and data have evolved along parallel, yet different, paths to handling governance.

Sometimes you need to destroy in order to do what is rightConclusion

Of course, you can’t buy Information Governance anymore than we’ve been able to buy ECM. It is a strategy and an approach, just on a more comprehensive scale. You are still setting priorities. You are still making sure you know where everything lives.

And you are still creating an ECM strategy to handle content. ECM should just live within the larger context of Information Governance.

Giving the different paradigms behind how the underlying CMSs and databases tackle governance, there is going to be some assessing and planning required. Taking a bigger picture view, and implementing it, is going to take a lot of work.

Perhaps a transformation…

Keep Your Data in Shape


Congratulations! You are finally tracking the effectiveness of your content and are starting to gain real insights into how people interact with you on your website, social media outlets, and across all of your digital efforts. The data is really starting to pour in, revealing trends that are helping you plan for the next step of your evolving marketing strategy.

As the data piles up, you may start to notice little things. Reports are taking longer to run. Your IT staff is spending more time on performance tuning. You realize that determining the ideal audience for a campaign is requiring as many exclusions as inclusions. Meanwhile, your email bounce-back rate and unsubscribe requests continue to climb.

What is happening is info-glut. Over time, the data piles up and a growing percentage becomes inaccurate, unreliable, or both. While a simple answer is to throw a little more power at the problem and adjust expectations, there are questions that are begging to be asked.

  • Do we care who downloaded a whitepaper three years ago?
  • Is it still relevant that someone visited the site actively nine months ago and then disappeared?
  • How accurate is all that personal information that has been collecting since tracking was started?
  • When you move to a new system, how much of the data do you transform and bring over?

This is where a little Information Governance can streamline your activities from the beginning. Like you would when applying the Principles of Holistic Information Governance to content, you need to assess the data, determine its useful life, and plan accordingly.

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A Release Note For Legacy Systems


I’ve often said that older systems haven’t innovated as much as they should have the past decade. Sure, the systems change and evolve, but have they really improved? Here is a quick look at what just about every release made in the last 10 years could have looked like.

imageAnnouncing SuperOld CMS 8.5!

We are proud to announce our newest version of SuperOld CMS. Right off, you will be impressed with the bigger version number which means more goodness for you.

For this release we listened to you and heard your concerns. In version 7.5 we placed our new critical features in a menu that our customers said was too hard to find. Now that you have had three years to learn exactly how to use those features, we have moved them to a more intuitive location. You won’t believe how easy it is to use now once you break three years of ingrained behavior!

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Why Choosing Content Management is Becoming More Critical


Waiting for GodotI have recently been talking in my presentations about organizations opting to do nothing about their Content problem. When looking at the prospect of rolling out a new Content Management System (CMS), it is a valid option. There is only one issue with that choice.

Each year, choosing to do nothing becomes a worse option.

Let’s take a moment to discuss why doing nothing is riskier now than it was in the past.

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Talking Business Solutions in Russia


In my last post, I talked about my trip to Russia. I was there to speak during the opening session of the ECM Ecosystem conference being put on by the Russian edition of PC Week. I thought I would share the English version of my presentation , The Shift to Business Solutions, and some of the related discussion that occurred during the panels.

Picking a Trend

For my talk, I was asked to highlight trends in the industry. While I mentioned the obvious candidates (Social, Mobile, Analytics/Big Data, and Cloud) in my talk, I chose to focus on the continuing shift towards Business Solutions. While not as obviously sexy as the others, it is one that is making Content Management easier to manage and handle.

I also picked this one because this is a trend that every organization can benefit from immediately. It is a focus on how to implement and execute Content Management, not how the concept needs to evolve.

After spending the week there, I was sure that I had chosen wisely.

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Content Services, Not ECM


Recently I’ve been trying to walk a narrow path. I have all but pronounced Enterprise Content Management (ECM) dead, and yet I have expressed a belief that Content Services need to be embedded into business applications.

The question is two-fold. How can you serve Content Services without a platform? Isn’t that ECM with a different name?

Yes and no.

Let’s dissect this apparent contradiction.

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Don’t Make Your Digital Assets a Silo


I wrote a piece for CMSWire last month asking if Content Management Systems were Good Enough for Digital Asset Management. I essentially said that if digital assets are the business, then a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system makes sense. If digital assets are part of a broader business need or solution, then perhaps the capabilities of a broader Content Management System (CMS) would suffice.

Ralph Windsor took exception at my conclusion, thinking I was pushing the same old Enterprise Content Management (ECM) story. He couldn’t be further from the truth.

Let me tell you why.

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