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Storage and ECM

We devote a tremendous amount of coverage to enterprise content management (ECM)--after all, content is at the very heart of the agile knowledge upon which we all depend. We don't, however, cover storage--it, well, just takes too much room (sorry). Bad puns aside, AIIM just released a comprehensive report covering both topics: The Role of ECM in Storage Decisions--The Why, What and How of Storing Business Critical Information. (If your memory is anything like mine, there's a chance--but only a chance--that you'll remember I mentioned an AIIM document management report in last month's issue. But AIIM is doing some good work these days worth mentioning in these pages. For the record, this survey was sponsored by EMC, conducted two months ago and 608 executives participated.

I'll paraphrase some of the study's findings. Almost one-third of the users reported that more than 40 percent of the storage spending is for unstructured documents and information--I think that percentage will continue to grow annually. Further, AIIM President John Mancini, who prepared the report, found that larger organizations especially are aggressively pursuing consolidation and rationalization of their storage and archiving strategies--but that cost is not the prime motivation behind those activities. Driving the ECM initiatives, rather, are: ensuring business continuity (41.2 percent say that is a "critical or extremely important factor"), providing access to information across the organization (40.8 percent) and reducing litigation risks (38.8 percent). I'll wager that last figure goes up, as well.

Mancini explains that a major issue AIIM wanted to investigate in this survey was the interplay between storage decisions and content/document-related concerns within organizations. He found that content and document migration across their life cycles remains a major challenge for most organizations--over 58 percent of survey respondents characterize that migration as either "very challenging" or "a major challenge"--a subtle, but noteworthy distinction, I think.

Frankly, I think the most valuable information in the study can be found in its tables. They were the most interesting to me (and, yes, space limits me from elaborating further). They address such issues as:

  • How does your company/organization archive its e-mail?
  • Are you familiar with the term "information life cycle management?"
  • Many users have told us that they are working to consolidate storage and archiving strategies across the enterprise. Please evaluate the importance of each of the following factors in making this decision (percentage indicating "critical, extremely important").
  • Has the increased ability to successfully perform ‘federated search' changed the way you look at the business need to consolidate storage and archiving strategies? 
  • How much input do your records management and legal teams have into your storage architecture regarding RM and compliance issues?

Some of the information uncovered in the survey about records management, compliance and legal issues is truly alarming. Far too many organizations simply still don't get it. As Mancini explains, "There continues to be a 'negative lottery' mentality among a large number of end-users related to organizations that have been 'caught' in embarrassing legal proceedings involving the mismanagement of electronic information." He further explains that while there may be an awareness of exposure to those risks, the "it-could-never-happen-to-us" attitude is still too prevalent

For some remarkable insight into a few respondents' understanding of issues we cover extensively in this magazine, the appendixes are a great resource--these are the "other" (written responses) to questions asked in the survey. Remember, these are comments from executives:

From Appendix 1: How does your company/organization archive its e-mail?

Answer(s): "Each individual decides what to archive." "Can't say, IT department handles all the e-mails."

From Appendix 2: Has the increased ability to successfully perform federated search changed the way you look at the business need to consolidate storage and archiving strategies?

Answer: "I have no idea how to answer this; I don't know what you're saying." Maybe it's time some of them start reading KMWorld.

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