Reflections on ARMA 2010

The Future of IM Systems of Record, Engagement and Insight

“Information is not knowledge.” —Albert Einstein

It appears the timing may be right for Records and Information Management (RIM) professionals to emerge as key players in the battle to tame organizational data and help entities of all sizes realize the benefits of the information they have at their disposal.

With the advent of advanced technologies for accessing, collecting, creating, discovering, managing, massaging, sharing, storing and viewing information digitally—regardless of how insignificant that data might appear—and the insatiable appetite of individuals and organizations of every ilk to mine that information, the ability to parse information effectively is fast becoming a critical differentiator in the business world.

However, technology can only take organizations so far. Formulating policies, adopting to business processes and creating a culture that supports an organization’s Information Management (IM) journey are just as important. Also important is creating a lingua franca that bridges the communication gaps between Compliance, Finance, HR, IT, Legal, Marketing, Sales and other departments or lines of business. RIM professionals have the opportunity to be the cross-functional glue.

With these thoughts in mind, I look back on a variety of conversations I’ve had with users, vendors and thought leaders as well as presentations and technology demonstrations that were on display earlier this month at ARMA 2010.

Here are what I consider notable highlights at ARMA, and my comments:

Iron Mountain luncheon speaker Geoffrey Moore: Defining the Future of ECM. But Where are the Systems of Insight?

Those of us lucky enough to get invited to the Iron Mountain luncheon were entertained by noted best-selling author Geoffrey Moore’s views on the future of content management. Over the past few months, Moore has been working with AIIM to develop “a consistent vision of the future of content management” which he has divided into two major categories: Systems of Record and Systems of Engagement.

In his ARMA slide presentation, Moore talked about the “consumerization of Enterprise IT,” the “consumerization of B2B” and the coming “revolution” because of the ability to “scale collaborative capabilities through systems of engagement.” Moore’s slide, “Records Management’s transformation to Virtual Experts, Collaborative Management,” illustrated how this transformation would enable users to see “eye to eye on critical issues.”

Moore also showed a slide, “Systems of Record (SOR) and Systems of Engagement (SOE),” the notion being that SOR is the single source of the truth, while SOE implies interaction, insight, ideas and nuances. According to Moore, SOEs are communal by nature. Content is immediate and direct, collaborative and live vs. document authored.

While he touched on analytics, cloud and mobility, neither SOR nor SOE, as Moore appeared to define them, encompasses these three game-changing technologies and trends. I imagine, for instance, that in the near future, applications for mobile, untethered or laptop devices will allow business users to easily and quickly access and query huge corpora of content contained in private or public clouds and selectively view meaningful content. This will not necessarily be a collaborative or communal activity. It could likely be a very personal experience. It won’t have to be live or immediate, but could be.

As developers of Natural Language Processing (NLP) solutions and other analytical and semantic tools continue to push the envelope to make it easier for users to experience intelligent, self-guided and controlled content analytics, business cases will become clearer and Systems of Insight will be become ubiquitous. They will become a natural extension of what is already largely possible with monolithic analytics systems today.

I would argue that the “One Iron Mountain” strategy is firmly planted in the Systems of Record space—with its physical and digital records business, archiving and ediscovery solutions and other “necessary pieces of the core infrastructure”—risk and cost mitigation being primary motivations. This approach is still appealing, useful and perhaps also necessary for a majority of organizations.

Microsoft SharePoint and ECM: Can Anybody Catch Them?

To continue with the Geoffrey Moore metaphor, Microsoft has got Systems of Engagement nearly locked up. They have pretty much bypassed Systems of Records, for the time being. SharePoint has roughly 6,000 partners of various shapes and sizes including just about every one of the hundred or so vendors exhibiting at ARMA. Consultants who last year told me they were primarily focused on very large and expensive ECM implementations, such as Documentum and other enterprise ECM solutions, are now busy working with SharePoint.

A major utility firm in North America told me at ARMA they had cancelled their Documentum implementation in favor of SharePoint. EMC, which owns Documentum, is one of the largest SharePoint integrators in the world. So when did SharePoint become an ECM platform? Just look at what the SharePoint eco-system has to offer. As one senior Microsoft product manager said to me, “We got the user experience and collaboration right.”

It’s relatively easy and cheap to get started with SharePoint. Regardless of whether or not SharePoint was intended for the ECM market, Microsoft has the users and buyers yet again—something they did with the PC when central IT organizations shut them out.

IBM Analytics: Will It Change the Nature of Work?

I continue to be intrigued by IBM’s Content Analytics ICA capabilities. But will content, information or records management professionals embrace this newer technology or other Systems of Insight? I believe it all depends on how easy and inexpensive IBM and others can make these solutions for anybody to adopt especially for aspirational organizations that have not embraced analytics as yet.

Some of the major features and benefits promised by ICA include:

– Interactively assess content for preservation or deletion to reduce storage costs and risk
– Powerful solution modeling and support for advanced classification tools
– Deliver key insights to other systems, users and applications for complete business view
– Reduce time, complexity to build data and linguistic models, dictionaries or ontology
– Identify trends, patterns, deviations within historical cases to improve case management
– Leverage the full business context of both content and data
– Understand business value of content to assist in content preservation, ediscovery needs
– Search, discover, perform same analytics on textual data that is done on structured data
– Automatically identifies unusual relationships between data that might require attention 
– Uniquely combines structured and unstructured data for seamless analysis 
– Easily and quickly allows analysis content from many different facets.

If the technology can be commercialized and made available to organizations of all sizes, whether hosted or in-house, in the office or on a smart device, then CRMs and other RIM professionals will embrace analytics as part of their new workflow—which will go beyond mere records management and information governance—making their positions even more relevant and indispensible.

Bottom Line

In the future, perhaps the natural evolution of the CRM or RIM executive is a CIO position, or Chief Insight Officer, who leads a cross-functional team whose primary mission is enabling workers to access information inside and outside the enterprise with ease, in a secure environment. The CIO will be an individual capable of orchestrating his/her organization’s IM journey, a journey that includes the ability to create and enforce a strategic information management game plan. And that plan will need to encompass three categories of Systems: Records, Engagement and Insight.

About Gary MacFadden

Gary's career in the IT industry spans more than 25 years starting in software sales and marketing for IBM partners DAPREX and Ross Data Systems, then moving to the IT Advisory and Consulting industry with META Group, Giga and IDC. He is a co-founder of The Robert Frances Group where his responsibilities have included business development, sales, marketing, senior management and research roles. For the past several years, Gary has been a passionate advocate for the use of analytics and information governance solutions to transform business and customer outcomes, and regularly consults with both end-user and vendor organizations who serve the banking, healthcare, insurance, high tech and utilities industries. Gary is also a frequent contributor to the Wikibon.org research portal, a sought after speaker for industry events and blogs frequently on Healthcare IT (HIT) topics.
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3 Responses to Reflections on ARMA 2010

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Reflections on ARMA 2010 | Focus on Information Management -- Topsy.com

  2. Your comments about systems of insight make sense to me. It will take some time for this whole notion of systems of record vs systems of enagement to shake out. As you know, I wrote about this myself at http://bit.ly/czdnn1

    In the end, analytics are clearly a big piece of this. There is simply too much information (85% of it being content) to expect humans to be able to understand what is going on … trends, patterns, anamolies, etc. It’s going to be a fun ride. Keep up the good work.

  3. Gary MacFadden says:

    Craig,

    Thanks for your comments. We obviously agree that analytics is going to be too big a piece of the content management pie to be relegated to a sub-category. Like you I’m looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out in the next few years.

    Gary

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