Corporate IT adopts content management

Von Todd Weiss

With an eye on saving money, as well as regulatory compliance, companies are growing more interested in content management, according to John Mancini, president of the Enterprise Content Management Association. In an interview here in Philadelphia Tuesday morning at the opening of the AIIM Conference & Exposition in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Mancini spoke with Computerworld"s Todd R. Weiss about the emergence of content and document management in corporate IT.

How do corporate users see document and content management today? Do they see it as something they definitely need or are they asking themselves if they need it at all? For people who are worried about cost or about risk management, a switch has clicked and they now say they need this technology. Somewhere about five years ago, this was down the list of priorities. It"s really come to the top of their minds now. People really view these technologies differently than when I first joined AIIM 10 years ago. They"re now must-have technologies and are being looked at by midsize organizations as well as large organizations.

What has made content and document management more critical for businesses? We did a survey of 1,200 users in nine countries last year and asked 10 to 12 simple questions about document management. We found that cost-driven reasons are still the primary reason for looking at this technology. The whole challenge of managing documents in a way that you can improve business processes ... is still at the top of the list. But catching up is risk management and compliance in the last year. These are now proven technologies that can build ROI for users.

What"s the primary obstacle that companies have with moving to document management systems? It isn"t so much choosing a particular vendor. It gets into the softer things like ... how do I sell this to management ... and how do I manage change? These technologies have really matured. You can really do this stuff ... more easily than five or 10 years ago, but it"s still not always easy.

With a slew of recent corporate scandals involving old e-mails, archived documents and other data, the topic of document management seems more prominent as legal investigators follow information trails and build cases. Are these cases making corporate users look at these technologies with more interest? Popular culture and business are now understanding the importance of this issue, and we"re even seeing memorable commercials on TV about it from Xerox Corp. That"s an amazing kind of thing in terms of a shift in awareness. [Users] realize the symptoms that drive them to document management, including the problems of high costs, compliance, organization and others. The front page aspect of this has certainly helped. I think there are light bulbs going off inside of organizations of all sizes. I think what you"re going to see is that people will come to document and content management and they don"t even realize they"re doing it as they look to better organize their data.

Are there particular challenges for large enterprises as they adopt document management strategies? People at big organizations are looking around and people may already have 10 to 15 different document management products in different departments across their businesses. They"re saying that they have to rationalize their approach and that they can"t manage all the data silos if they can"t talk to each other. They"re saying they"ve got to consolidate it. There are organizations now that are actually trying to do it.