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Josh Payne on content analytics, enterprise content and information management

Shattering Your Implicit Cost Assumptions for Information Governance

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I’m quite enamored with twitter. Its my main source of information and news, especially on the weekends as I’m rarely in front of a computer and it delivers interesting tidbits to the blackberry in my pocket. And its certainly the best way I’ve found to keep my finger on the pulse of goings on in the niche relevant to my professional interests: ECM, information governance and records management.

This tweet, from @MimiDionne a couple of weekends ago caught my eye:

My initial response: Mimi, this is no joke! My 18 month old wasn’t that interested in hearing about cost savings and information governance at the time, so I returned to our conversation about ducks and birds and swallowed my observations until now.

Its always perilous to read too much into 140 character long observations, but my instant reaction to the tone of the tweet was that she was embarking on something that the general records management community would view as quixotic. Mimi is probably with me on the potential for cost savings, but the rest of the community is probably not, as reflected in her joking tone.

Information governance initiatives, and that very much includes a records management, can indeed be better for your budget. My friends at IBM who are focused exclusively on our records management product have been helping our customers calculate the ROI with the “No Paper Weight” initiative for the past few years. But when I view information governance through the lens of content analytics, I see even greater possibilities for easing your budget.

One of the key values of content analytics technology is that it is a substitute for human analysis of documents. And because those documents have become so numerous in our organizations, the cost to analyze them has become very high. The inability to execute analysis of your documents becomes an implicit assumption in how you plan your records management and information governance projects.

By adopting content analytics as a core element of your information lifecycle governance strategy, you can shatter this assumption and doing so reshapes your budgeting in two critical ways, cost prevention and cost reduction:

1) Document by document decision making for cost prevention. Technologies like automated content classification can augment, improve efficiency of, or outright replace document by document decision making. By using content classification and other analytics approaches to better automate your governance decisions, you’ll improve your organization’s productivity by letting the general population of users focus on their ‘real’ work and leave records management decision making out of their lives. More productive workers means a positive impact on your budget.

2) Content Decommissioning for cost reduction. More compelling, is the savings possible by gaining control and governing the lifecycle of your important information, and decommissioning the rest.  Too frequently, we hear from customers that they keep their information active in its original store because they don’t know what’s important and it would be too difficult (i.e. involve a costly analysis of the documents) to figure out what to preserve.  But the cost implications of retiring the systems that store this content is compelling. If we can reduce the barriers that prevent organizations from sifting through the information and picking out the relevant, valuable content (the content that a records manager would say is a record), then we can unlock the budget friedly implications of better information lifecycle governance. Content analytics does that.

Once you’ve assessed legacy content stores and picked out and preserved the valuable content, you have opened up new worlds of cost saving:

– File system storage, which assumes high availablity and rapid access, can be cut. Content is decommissioned and your disk purchasing budget for the next year can go down. You simply don’t need as much as before.

– Administration costs. Less storage means less cost to administer that disk. Lower power costs, cooling costs and of course human costs. Most organizations model a fully burden cost for storage. Decommission your content and you can decommission much of your fully burdened, ongoing cost.

– Further, the information you do keep can be sent off to lower cost storage as typically that information will be determined to require less frequent access than actively generated content.

– Application maintainenace is also an implication of legacy, uncontrolled content. Content is frequently not stored in totally uncontrolled ways (file systems) but rather in partially controlled places as part of software business applications (like a CRM system or a knowledge management application). And those business applications come with ongoing maintenance costs. Sometimes these costs come in the form of explicit maintenance fees from software vendors. Sometimes they are billings from IT organizations for the human cost of maintaining the application. But if you’re able to identify the important information inside those applications, preserve it, apply lifecycle governance to it and decommission the complete, originating application, you’re certain to cut costs.

Yes, lifecycle governance can be expensive. But there are savings to be had once you break down the implicit hurdle that understanding your information can be done cost effectively with content analytics.

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Written by Josh Payne

February 8, 2010 at 10:03 am

One Response

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  1. Josh,

    Thanks so much for thinking about my tweet! I appreciate your blog post very much–I’m delighted to be connected with you on twitter, too. :-)

    Mimi Dionne

    February 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm


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