Thursday, November 21, 2013

Choosing the Right Content and Knowledge Management Tools

Effective content and knowledge management is a combination of theory, practice, and technology. You should not focus too much on the technology part without considering other parts.

However, effective technology deployment are essential to content and knowledge management success. The challenge is that there is no such thing as "content and knowledge management tools" marketplace. Depending on the application, content and knowledge management can include different types of technology, comprising many diverse market segments.

Today, content and knowledge management practitioners need to follow technology developments.

For many years, the main platforms for content and knowledge management revolved around searchable knowledgebases and discussion forums. Enterprise portals emerged to try to present enterprise information via a single dashboard. That didn't usually work out so well, although portal technology still plays a key role for many use cases today.

Similarly, enterprise search held and important part in the enterprise content management where the right information easily retrievable from multiple repositories through the single interface. Search technology still plays a critical role in many cases.

Now content management practitioners have to take into account a wide range of repositories and applications, from enterprise video to social media monitoring and intelligence. The diversity of content management technology is growing and proliferates.

Of course, knowledgebases still remain important, but the way we build and manage them has changed dramatically:
  • Wikis now power some of the most definitive knowledgebases within and beyond the enterprise.
  • Sophisticated social Q&A applications are generating impressive, demand-driven knowledge sets in many environments.
  • Digital community spaces are not new, but richer community platforms with increasingly important facilitation features have made them far more accessible in the enterprise.
  • Ideation (a.k.a., open innovation) applications are also coming of age, amid much healthy experimentation.
For content management practitioners, this means mastering a new set of technologies to address old problems. But the opposit is also true: some older technologies are finding new use within the enterprise.

Digital asset management and media asset management platforms are not new. What changed is their increasing adoption within broader enterprise contexts. More and more of our digital knowledge is not textual any more.

Much of our textual knowledge that does remain still resides in files waiting to get more liberated. Hence the meteoric rise of file sharing services, most of them based in the cloud, and many of them now targeting enterprise scenarios.

The rise of social media monitoring and intelligence has given new life to the field of text analytics, even while exposing the limitations of individual analytics engines.

Not every organization needs all those types of tools. But the savvy content management practitioners can help guide his or her colleagues to the appropriate technology for their organization.

Very often over the past decade, when content management practitioners began new projects, the preferred solution was Microsoft SharePoint - a platform that seemingly can do it all. You need to remember to not to focus too much on any one platform but base decisions on your organization business requirements.

For most organizations, initial investments in social computing have centered on creating social spaces where employees could go to engage in more informal discussions and networking. The actual results have often proved uneven, yet promising enough to sustain further investment and experimentation within most enterprises.

Social features are important to effective enterprise collaboration. More social and collaborative digital workplace experience has become increasingly essential for all enterprise computing. Your colleagues really want a social layer across their digital experience. But it could be the opposite as well. Again, remember your business requirements.

Many of new tools come with their own repositories and, left alone, will lead to more information silos reducing their long-term value. Many vendors argue that search technologies will solve that problem. You need to focus on things like filtering services for activity streams and appropriate levels of information management.

You will also add value by demonstrating that collaboration and knowledge sharing are not places people go, but things they do.

With the rise of mobile, that kind of contextual relevancy has become more urgent. But it is going to require an understanding of a wider choice of technology choices.

Content management practitioners are uniquely positioned to help the organization to put new tools in the context of daily work. Understand the suitability of the right tool for the right job. Advocate for a scenario-based approach to all technology selections. The right tool is not sufficient for content and knowledge management success, but it is an increasingly important condition.

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Trends in Records Management

Records management has changed from what it was before and there are new trends in it.

Records management professionals should adapt to it and be open to collaboration and working cross-functionally with business users to develop their road-map for the identification and exploration of new sources of corporate records.

Technology has evolved since the first wave of records management tools entered the market. Regulations changed and they now cover the broader spectrum of electronically stored information, for example, video, social media or instant messaging, not just the images or office documents that have traditionally been called "records." Information governance is emerging as a term that describes and supports a holistic, life cycle view of the creation, use, and protection of digital information.

Let's look more closely at these new trends.

Records management shifts to information governance.

Work-in-progress documents, structured or semi-structured information require governance, including protection from unauthorized access, use, deletion or disclosure across their life cycle. In other words, the frequently changing data in your system reflects your business activities. Holds and discovery to meet litigation or audit need to be available regardless of the item's record status or storage location, i.e. on-premises or in a cloud service.

Many businesses continue to lack confidence in the progress of their electronic records management programs, compliance initiatives, and e-discovery preparedness. The shift to a more comprehensive and proactive management of information across its entire life cycle has begun.

The concepts of file plans, folders, file parts and cutoffs have imposed constraints on how electronic information is organized and managed. The vocabulary of the paper records center is no longer relevant in a digital-first organization. Today, an information worker can compose an agreement in a cloud application, such as Google Docs, share it with a colleague, edit it on a tablet device and push revisions to a customer collaboration site even while on an airplane. But, business records continue to be generated outside traditional desktop applications.

New vendors are taking fresh approach to addressing compliance, categorization and retention requirements. The shift to a more comprehensive and proactive management of information across its entire business life cycle rather than just its end has begun. They approach governance of information beyond the "record." Technologies with strong roots in search, archiving and retention management offer the capabilities to manage many forms of electronically stored information, such as social activity or rich media, even when such information is not formally flagged as a record.

Cloud and social platforms render "file and declare" ineffective.

Traditional records management tools are slow to make the leap to the cloud. Records managers may be at risk of holding obsolete assumptions about importing or filing content into an on-premises records repository.

Records and compliance managers remain wary of cloud and social platforms. Enterprise architectures and their peers in records management practice groups are not aligned on cloud computing benefits. Cloud providers are increasingly supporting content segregation, security, privacy and data sovereignty requirements to attract regulated industries, and they are offering service-level agreements designed to reduce risks. In spite of that, records managers still cite security, legal and privacy risks as the top three reasons to stall adoption of cloud services and SaaS.

Current records management systems are already missing many forms of electronically stored information. Older types of electronically stored information, such as images, e-mail or office documents, are often captured into traditional records management applications. Newer content types are less likely to have policy-driven life cycle or retention rules applied. Mobile messages, social media posts or websites are important sources of discoverable information, but application of legal holds to that content can be difficult.

Digital preservation forces itself onto the governance agenda.

Digital records that have a long-term retention schedule are at risk when hardware devices, software applications and file formats become obsolete. Obsolete software file format is also a concern. Many first generation business and personal productivity tools are retired, and the inability to retrieve or view older digital records is becoming a reality.

Organizations are slowly waking up to digital preservation concerns. Migration, conversion and adoption of open standards are accepted approaches to solve the problem of accessibility over time. Those approaches, however, are not widely adopted at this time.

Decisions to retire older enterprise applications raise content preservation concerns. As organizations begin infrastructure renewal projects, particularly as new SaaS and cloud-based applications become viable alternatives, IT and records professionals must assess the risk of losing information in those older systems. Decisions to maintain older systems in read-only mode, to migrate data into newer systems or to dispose of older systems all together must be made in accordance with business, legal and compliance needs.

Open standards and open source change the sourcing landscape.

Companies drive significant change in the software acquisition landscape by calling for deliberate adoption of open standards and open source. Governments are hedging against the potential loss of electronic information, software obsolescence and increased costs, as well as demanding more portable data. Between 2011 and 2012, several national governments published directives to help their IT, records and procurement managers to understand, investigate and select more open technology platforms.

Open standards help to address preservation, accessibility and interoperability needs. Open source helps to reduce cost and minimize vendor and platform lock-in. Programs developed by governments around the world have raised the profile and acceptance of open source software. Government in the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe have taken proactive approach for using software systems and file formats based on open standards.

Auto-categorization becomes viable and approachable.

Transactional, regulated and semi-structured content is ready for automated capture, categorization and application of retention policies. The electronic information that uses a consistent structure and embedded metadata, or includes predictable patterns of numbers or text lends itself to content analytics, entity extraction and categorization tools for ingestion and application of retention, disposition and security or privacy access controls. Opportunities to use auto-classification technologies for routine, high-volume, predictable electronic content are increasing as technology matures, more vendors provide integrated offerings, and use cases are identified.

Auto-classification joins compliance needs and business priorities. High-volume, transactional information is a pain point when storage costs escalate and discovery requests are made. Capture, categorization and retention schedule are functions that reduce costs, streamline customer service, and increase digitization of processes. Consistent organization creates a foundation upon which are based content analytics and predictive technology use. Consistent disposal of obsolete information reduces the need for more storage resources, facilitates faster retrieval of data, and lowers the cost of e-discovery.

Big content is as important as big data and requires well-thought governance. Big data gets a lot of attention, but organizations must also cope with information stored in semi-structured or unstructured forms. Tabular data often sits unnoticed and unanalyzed in files created by individuals or small teams. E-mail, spreadsheets and ad hoc databases are used for critical business decisions and often sit under the radar of compliance or audit managers on file shares, collaboration sites or personal computers. 70% of companies use spreadsheets for critical business decisions, but fewer than 34% apply governance or controls to them.

Technology enforces and automates defensible approaches to disposition. Organizations that demonstrate consistent and predictable approaches to information handling, including its final deletion, are more successful when e-discovery orders compel extensive search, retrieval, review and production activities. Automation of routine processes, including scheduled disposal, lends weight to retention programs when challenged by legal counsel or auditors. Auto-classification tools ensure that retention and disposition rules are applied within specific parameters and are supported by documented policy rationale and citations.