Are We Heading To A Digital Industrial Economy Or Into Digital Business Chaos?

logo_aiim - AIIM Logo 1AIIM President and CEO John Mancini recently shared his vision of the rapidly changing ECM (enterprise content management) landscape – and what CIOs should do to cope with these changes in a special webinar, produced in partnership with KOFAX .

You can download the whole recording for free here:

 This first extract should give you some flavour of what AIIM sees as the main issues

What comes next after ‘ECM’? We could start by asking why we even need to consider this question. The reality is the very term ‘ECM’ is starting to feel a bit strained. That’s happening for a number of reasons: the blurring of the line between structured and unstructured data, which is part of a wider shift away from our older ideas about what ‘content’ is (should we not be talking about process, not technology, etc?).

However, I think there are much deeper, wider and more disruptive forces at work that call for a very different approach to organisational ‘content’ – and which change the debate from a somewhat academic one, as in ‘what should we rename our industry?’ to a much more practical, real-world focused one. As part of that move, I think we all need to start focusing more and more on the business problems that need to be solved and get away from talk dominated by ideas about ‘solutions’ and technologies.

And I think it’s a conversation anyone interested in information and ‘content’ needs to be taking part in – right now.

Three disruptive forces

Most commentators agree we are now firmly on the way to a Digital Industrial Economy (Gartner). That means all sorts of organisations that don’t think of themselves as that interested in the digital or information, increasingly have to be. (What is a gym franchise now but a client fitness activity database company, for example?)

Sounds great, right? Information, content, Big Data: all very exciting. It is, until you talk to companies and find out that they feel their file servers are completely out of control, who worry that their information is leaking out of the corporate four walls at a frightening rate, that the volume of ‘stuff’ they have to deal with is spinning out of control. What they are actually contemplating is not a new Digital Industrial Economy but a slide into Digital Chaos.

This is the context for all our work and we need to be clear that we need to start helping organisations deal with this, right now. But to do that, we need to be clear as to what is happening out there, those wider disruptive forces I talked about. I see three:

  • Consumerisation of IT
  • The influence of Cloud and Mobile
  • A changing workplace

A lot of this will be familiar to anyone who’s following the debate, but let’s spell out what’s happening anyway. To the first point, the world changed forever in Christmas 2010 when a lot of CEOs and C-suite execs got their first iPads off of Santa. When they came back into work in January, they demanded that their existing corporate IT systems worked just as well as their new toys. That huge rise in expectations, right across the workforce, is something that is fundamental to the way people expect to be able to work with systems from here on out. (Can I recommend a great resource here that I have found very helpful in shaping my thinking on the impact of consumerisation: James McQuivery of Forrester’s work on ‘digital disruption’ :

Meanwhile, Cloud and Mobile are creating an equally huge set of expectations around anytime, anywhere access to information. It’s also collapsing the purchasing cycle down to effectively zero (Yankee Group predicts 2015 will be the first year we see a trillion dollars worth of mobile-driven transactions, for example.) I call it the ‘Amazon’-ing of expectations: we all now expect every web site to be as good as that, and if it isn’t, we are unhappy (see the debacle around the Affordable Care Act ‘Obamacare’, which proves that a slick front end without effective back-end, state of the art processes quickly get written off as a disaster).

And finally, we have a changing face of work, with a drive to a much less hierarchical, ‘flatter’ management style, accompanied by a younger workforce that is much more technology-astute than any we have ever seen before.

The net result of all these changes is that the volume, variety and velocity of information in our lives is getting bigger all the time.

It all means that managing this flow – and avoiding the dip into ‘digital chaos’ – is going to be the biggest single business challenge of the next decade.

Which is where we come in. In fact, have to come in and start helping. Let’s explain how next time.

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