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7/12/2005
12:44 PM
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Input Management: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

EIM is the new three-letter acronym Captiva Software used at its annual user conference yesterday to describe the technology it has long provided to financial services, insurance and healthcare organizations and government agencies.



SAN DIEGO — EIM is the new three-letter acronym Captiva Software used here at its annual user conference yesterday to describe the technology it has long provided to financial services, insurance and healthcare organizations and government agencies. It's imaging technology used for document and data capture, yet Captiva painted a broader picture of Enterprise Input Management that encompasses not just documents, but also fax, key entry, e-mail, Web forms, mobile transactions and EDI/XML streams. And the input part isn't just to document management and enterprise content management (ECM) systems; Captiva says it typically extends to ERP, CRM, SCM, EAI and legacy business systems.

Will "EIM" take root? Who knows. Perhaps the more important question is whether the larger category of imaging, which is itself a subset of ECM, will gain broader use and acceptance in the business world. That was the topic on the mind of keynote speaker John Mancini, president of trade association AIIM International. Mancini made the case that ECM is currently crossing the proverbial chasm to mainstream adoption. Future growth will be lead by the more than 160,000 midsize businesses in North America, he said, but he warned that ECM vendors and users would have to exploit the good, eliminate the bad and steer clear of the ugly if ECM is to join the IT bigtime.

The good, said Mancini, has been the growing recognition among businesses that they need to get their documents and broader base of content (including e-mail, Web pages and burgeoning electronic forms of information) under control. A recent AIIM survey found that 77 percent of some 400 executives agreed that document management has become more important in the last two years. Compliance concerns may be driving that perception, but once ECM systems are in place, Mancini says businesses soon recognize advantages in cost savings, improved collaboration and the assurance of business continuity. Eighty-two percent of those AIIM surveyed agreed that ECM is a core element of IT infrastructure rather than a point solution. Capture--or EIM if you prefer--sets the standard for ECM return on investment, with 75 percent of survey respondents reporting that capture deployments met or exceeded expectations.

The bad, according to Mancini, is the danger that organizations are applying a storage-driven mentality to electronic information management. That is, companies are haphazardly deleting files and folders to make more room for mushrooming content stores. As evidence, he pointed to a joint study with ARMA International and Cohasset Associates that revealed that 36 percent of those surveyed said they are not currently including electronic content such as e-mail in their records management programs. Meanwhile, new laws such as SOX and HIPPA have brought about a change in which the burden of proof has shifted from courts and regulators having to find evidence of wrong doing to businesses having to prove the integrity of their processes.

The ugly side of ECM is complexity, said Mancini. While 91 percent of those in the know about ECM say it has clear business benefits, only 20 percent of those respondents agree that other people in their organizations would even know what ECM means. Mancini likened the packaging of ECM technologies and suites to the overly complex and overlapping menus he has encountered at a well-known fast-food chain. Instead of ordering a bucket of chicken, today's customer is confronted with an overwhelming array of combo packages, side dishes, value menus and styles of chicken. In much the same way, would-be ECM buyers are often confronted with a confusing array of modules and technologies and all too little information on purchase, deployment and maintenance costs.

Most of the user organizations presenting at Captiva's event steered clear of cloudy acronyms and focused on the simple idea of saving time and money on paper-intensive business processes. Among the highlights, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and the Marsh subsidiary of Marsh & McClellan both described highly automated adjudication applications handling thousands of claims per day. Knights of Columbus Insurance described the monumental task of capturing 1.7 million legacy files with a whopping 75 million pages; the ongoing project is dramatically reducing labor associated with 1,600 customer queries per day while also speeding response times from 24 hours to a matter of seconds.

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