Features: November 26th, 2018

Information management expert David Jones discusses why digital transformation may be being held back

For some it’s an overused phrase, but every organisation really is on some kind of a Digital Transformation journey. The heart of such a journey: understanding, anticipating, and redefining internal and external customer experiences.

The problem: digital transformation is being hampered by a rising tide of information that is overwhelming organisations. According to The State of Intelligent Information Management report published earlier this year by AIIM, the leading association representing the information management profession, while most organisations continue to increase the number of content systems they use, the majority of critical business content (54%) remains outside of these content management systems — making them increasingly hard to find and manage.

Progress is being made when it comes to managing specific types of information and processes, but clearly organisations face an increasing volume, variety, and size of content assets that must be managed. The increasing volume of incoming information, and the speed at which we must ingest this information is plain to see — and legacy/manual approaches to this are struggling to keep pace. But it’s often under-appreciated how the sheer size of the files that must be managed is also a factor. There are more digital file types (videos, images, audio files) that organisations must manage today than ever before. This creates ongoing information governance challenges, especially for assets that must be managed over long retention periods.

These new kind of  ‘rich media’ challenges are becoming an increasing issue in the public sector. For instance, more and more law enforcement agencies such as the Police are using CCTV and body-worn cameras on officers as a means to gather evidence, and these rich media files need to be effectively managed. And it’s not just law enforcement firms — NHS Trusts struggle with CT/MRI scans, X-rays, photographic records of patient injuries and progress of conditions, etc. Meanwhile, local authorities are dealing with the rise of photographic-based citizen records. All of this is contributing to Information Chaos, and none of the traditional enterprise content management (ECM) systems were originally designed to properly work with these types of content.

The Scope and Scale of the Information Chaos Dilemma

Public servants working under these conditions are struggling, particularly when it comes to information), access and retrieval. Finding the right information in a timely way is a big problem identified in the aforementioned AIIM study by three out of every four  (76%) of respondents. Other big issues identified in the AIIM survey was information overload by (75%) and the cost and/or difficulty of managing legacy applications by (65%). Keeping up with compliance regulation (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA) features as a problem for nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%).

AIIM also asked how easily practitioners could integrate information across systems:

  • The ‘Inability to connect information from different systems’ was an issue for 79% of respondents
  • ‘Scaling our information management systems to other processes beyond the original deployment’ is recorded as an issue by 71%
  • Meanwhile, a lack of integration between content management system and core business applications is acknowledged as a headache by over three quarters (74%) of those polled.

The scale and nature of information management has changed, and legacy document document management (DM) systems and  ECM solutions no longer cut it  in today’s fast-paced digital world. The good news is that a successor technology, the Content Services Platform (CSP), is emerging to help, and can deliver real benefits to the public sector.

The Content Services Platform – a Modern Approach to Information Management

A CSP provides  the foundation for a modern approach to information management because it’s built using modern technology — not technology that was  built 10 (or more) years ago, in a time before mobile and cloud had taken off. That means it can natively manage all of today’s data and content types — video, audio, social media, etc.— not just scanned documents and Word files.

Plus, CSPs can act as an organisational information hub — not just for data and content stored within the CSP itself, but by connecting to information stored in the multiple (legacy) systems deployed throughout the organisation. This is key, as a CSP can provide a Police Force, NHS Trust or Town Hall users with a single place to go to in order to store and retrieve information, reducing time wasted searching for files across multiple systems.

By connecting disparate information systems, the actual value of what lies in those legacy systems can be unlocked, and the many data-driven applications and potential analytic-led digital public services many of us would like to see can finally start to be delivered.

No need for rip and replace

Many public organisations are now realising how they can  deliver significant cost-savings by reducing search time, increasing access to information, and enabling information sharing via the cloud and mobile devices. This, in turn, results in higher productivity and rapid return on investment (ROI).

So as a sector let’s consider the future of information management. While modernisation has pushed many organisations to update their IT infrastructure, many aren’t ready to take the full leap yet. However, CSPs can actually help with IT modernisation by preparing organisations to move towards new systems at their own pace — and in turn, to better serve their employees and service users/customers.

Rather than using a ‘rip-and-replace’ strategy, with a CSP connecting systems together, migration becomes  an ongoing process towards legacy system retirement, done over a more relaxed timescale that a rip and replace project. This reduces the impact and disruption on the users and  ultimately delivers a long term reduced cost of ownership. Indeed, without a CSP — or technology like it — the British public sector will continue to struggle along, never truly boarding the train to start the Digital Transformation journey. It will persist with solutions that were fine for yesterday’s problems, but not for today’s challenges, let alone tomorrow’s.

The author is VP of product marketing at Nuxeo