Content Management In Focus: Q&A With AIIM's John Mancini - InformationWeek

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Content Management In Focus: Q&A With AIIM's John Mancini

Vendor consolidation, new federal rules on e-discovery and moves by giants including Microsoft are changing the enterprise content management market. Preparing for this week's AIIM Conference & Expo in Boston, AIIM International president John Mancini explores what's driving deployment and whether ECM is being subsumed by information management.

Are the "sticks" of compliance and risk as compelling for CIOs and CEOs as "the carrots" of finding new business opportunities and dramatically improving operations?

I think the "sticks" can be compelling depending on the level of risk that you have and the amount of cost you are incurring. Organizations that operate in litigious environments are spending enormous amounts on this function already, albeit not from an information management perspective. They've been thinking about it mainly as the cost of paralegals and lawyers that have to look at all this information. (see related AIIM 2007 "State of the ECM Industry" survey results on >The State of Document and Records Management).

From an operational perspective, there's a study by McKinsey & Company that looks at the impact of what they call "transactional interactions" and "tacit interactions." In every business there's a push to drive the cost out of people-intensive, step-and-repeat processes. We've seen that for years in the classic document management implementations in the insurance and banking industries. Any business that has a lot of step-and-repeat processes often has lots of unstructured content -- documents and forms -- surrounding those processes, and they're costly to manage.

That's the transactional side, but what about the tacit interactions?

McKinsey contends that these tacit interactions are the largest source of job growth right now. From a CEO perspective, you want to make your people as productive as possible, but you just can't do that in an environment in which collaboration is thought of as checking your e-mail 200 times a day.

Is ECM really addressing collaboration, or has that become an IM/messaging infrastructure issue? Some are even looking at blogs and wikis as simple, accessible alternatives to the top-down, systems approach.

It's not necessarily an either/or situation. I think [simple tools and ECM] ultimately will work in concert with each other. I've had a blog for more than a year, and I find that most people are still somewhat passive in their interaction with those technologies. The numbers of people who actively comment on blogs or who actively go into wikis and change content is very small. By comparison, an awful lot of productivity can be gained by having eRooms or SharePoint or that kind of infrastructure to support collaborative projects.

AIIM no longer owns the AIIM Conference & Expo [now produced by Questex], but it's interesting that this year's conference agenda goes beyond content management into areas such as information infrastructure, information classification and text mining. Is ECM becoming a subset of information management, and if so, what is AIIM, the association, doing to embrace a broader universe?

If you view information management as a continuum, [the association] still has its feet in ECM, which we define as technologies and processes used to capture, manage, store or deliver information related to business processes. People first started using the term ECM five or six years ago, and I'd be loath to change terms prematurely. You don't want to get people confused after they've finally gotten to the point where they have at least some understanding about what ECM is all about.

I do think that long-term [the ECM market] is heading more in the direction of information management, but it will take time to get there. We came to the conclusion a couple of years ago that the nature of the questions that people were asking was switching from the "why" and "what" to the "how." They now have an understanding of what ECM is, so they're more interested in having somebody help them figure out how to implement this technology. About 18 months ago we launched a training program focused on electronic records management and ECM, we're moving into the areas of search and business process because we've discovered enormous interest in these kinds of training programs. The long-term direction of the association is definitely to focus more and more on helping people figure out how to implement these technologies effectively.

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