One can hardly tell the history of enterprise content management without quickly encountering “content silos” and their crippling impact upon an effective information management strategy.
Much of this is a byproduct of the way in which ECM was introduced during the 1990s and 2000s: individual departments within an organization built solutions upon a specific ECM platform to solve a particular point of process pain. As a result, even organizations committed to a coherent information management strategy ultimately found themselves with multiple (and often inconsistent and incompatible) content repositories.
AIIM reports that 52% of organizations have three or more ECM/DM/RM systems and 22% have five or more systems. More worrisome, most of these silos are isolated.
Even multiple ECM/DM/RM systems only describe part of most organizations’ information story. For instance, personal information silos – attachments in email folders, documents hidden in file shares, and information buried on hard drives – confound the most well-intentioned information management strategy.
And that’s the good news!
The bad news: unless organizations get smart – quickly – the information silo problem will worsen. Here’s why …
The SaaS revolution is still in its early stages. The “business” now has the power to implement single-process solutions – often without a lot of IT involvement. According to Gartner, Inc., “more than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud during the next five years. This will make cloud computing one of the most disruptive forces of IT spending since the early days of the digital age.”
Organizations are not experiencing an explosion of process-specific information silos -- this time in the cloud. Sales information is in Salesforce. HR information is in Workday. Marketing information is in Marketo. Contracts are in Cobblestone. You get the idea.
While each of these make complete sense to whomever runs sales, HR, finance or contracts administration, a balkanized information strategy is not necessarily in the organization’s best interest.
Many information assets are critical to multiple departmental processes.
Think about a contract. Clearly, a contracts administrator needs to manage critical business contracts, and a single-purpose SaaS solution is a good first step. But this same content asset is needed by Finance and HR and Sales and Legal and a host of others, each of whom operate within their own environment. Will this contract then be replicated in multiple places and systems? How will you track the “official” version and keep all versions in sync?
So how do you 1) take advantage of the flexibility and agility represented by SaaS solutions AND 2) avoid making the information silo problem worse?
A cloud document management solution that cuts across multiple SaaS solutions and easily integrates with these solutions is critical to solving this equation. A unified content strategy – one that is not held hostage to any one SaaS vendor – is needed now if organizations are to avoid a whole new generation of information fragmentation.