Automating Information Management – It’s About Time

By John Mancini, AIIM International

Ultimately, AIIM believes Digital Transformation is more than conventional change. Digital Transformation is about using information in brand new ways. Digital Transformation success or failure fundamentally rests upon radically redefined experiences with customers, employees, and partners.

In our previous Tip Sheet – Conquering Information Chaos with Intelligent Information Management (IIM) – I discussed the key role that IIM plays as a core set of foundational technologies for Digital Transformation initiatives. In this Tip Sheet, I’d like to address why automating information management needs to be a core operating diretive as organizations approach Digital Transformation initiatives.

Here are 5 automation issues that every organization needs to answer about information chaos.

1) Understand the shift in process focus to truly drive Digital Transformation.
Most organizations will gladly acknowledge that automation of mission critical workflows is critical for the business to survive.

Most of the traditional focus in the content management community has been on automating the back office – functions like accounting and logistics and contracts to drive effiicency and cost savings. An enormous opportunity for back office automation continues to exist in many organizations.

The need for this kind of automation does not go away in the drive for digital transformation, and in fact there still exists enormous opportunity in many organizations for back office automation. But these capabilities are no longer a source of competitive differentiation. Rather, they have become table stakes in the drive to Digital Transformation.

It is automation and optimization of customer-facing and front office processes that are now critical. The true value of process automation in the context of digital transformation is to align with customer journeys and benefit from the synergies that arise from this alignment.

2) Digitization of paper based inputs is critical - take paper out early in the process.
Paper is still the key show stopper for process automation initiatives. AIIM’s Improving Business Operations in 2017: Capturing Vital Content describes the continued reliance upon paper in many organizations: 34% percent of organizations report that most of their important business content is referenced and still filed as paper.

Automating Information Management – It’s About Time! AIIM ( AIIM is the global community of information professionals. We provide the education, research and certification that information professionals need to manage and share information assets in an era of mobile, social, cloud and big data. Information capture is perhaps one of the most taken for granted elements of business operations. Information is available in business systems, but people only question how it gets there when a problem arises. or when it’s missing. Few know how it gets there and many are frustrated if it isn’t there when they want it to be.

In some cases, information appears before them as part of a process, ready for action to be taken. Capture is how it gets there. Businesses can improve operations significantly by assessing their current processes and mapping out better methods to capture vital business information.

3) Document capture does not need to be complex.
The struggle for many is a lack of focus and understanding of the current capabilities of a capture solution. Furthermore, they are unclear how it fits into their information infrastructure, and what problems is can solve.

While the term capture may cause visions of scanners to appear in one’s mind, there are many forms of capture following the many ways information enters a business. Some customers believe that the capture process is too complex and say they particularly struggle with bottlenecks that manual intervention causes in document prep work and in post production processing.

The best approach in overcoming these obstacles is to capture information at the first touch point. This may be:

  • when it enters the building
  • in the field in an agent’s office
  • online for a mortgage application
  • at a disaster site for an insurance claim

The key is to connect the information with the process, identify the type of information and where it is needed in the process, and the best method of capture to bring it into the system. Capture is the first step in gathering vital business information, and the trigger of many business processes. It is also a key opportunity for automation where ROI can be gained fairly quickly as reported by our respondents -- in some cases the return can be within three months.

4) Security and Privacy – paper is the worst enemy
Compliance requires end to end transparency, which is simply not feasible with paper. This challenge is particularly important right now, as organizations struggle to rethink their content management practices as a result of new regulations like GDPR.

Data from AIIM’s Improving Business Operations in 2017: Capturing Vital Content points to the continuing challenge organizations face in the most basis basic competencies critical to information privacy and security:

  • 47% of organizations report they are still struggling with email
  • 38% report processing paper separately from electronic content
  • 31% say they print out electronic documents and then process them along side paper

The emphasis on data security, and the risk of data loss have all become sharpened focal points for businesses. There is a greater need to adhere to regulatory, legal, and industry operating guidelines to secure and protect corporate and customer information. This requires businesses to implement more focused and stricter information governance (IG) policies, practices, and enforcement efforts.

The gap between good intentions and sound practices is clear when it comes to security and privacy. Consider these data points from AIIM’s Governance and Compliance in 2017: A Real World View: AIIM:

  • 17% of companies report the maturity level of their information governance policies as extremely poor
  • In the past 12 months, ten percent of companies report data loss due to staff negligence or bad practices
  • 40% indicate they are “below average” when it comes to defensible deletion

5) What criteria are essential when selecting a vendor for Information Management?
When thinking about to how create systems and processes that are transformative, it is critical that end users think about technology capabilities that are modular and can be more easily assembled and connected than has been the case in the past. User organizations should look for vendors who collaborate with partners. This ecosystem brings together the relevant experts to create a solution that can be configured to best suit the requirements of a particular customer.

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