(un)structured

Josh Payne on content analytics, enterprise content and information management

Archive for April 2010

The Value of Content Assessment

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In my previous post, the first in my series on content assessment, I described the information landscape with respect to content. Organizations are facing ever increasing volume, velocity and variety of information. Understanding growing piles of uncontrolled content through content analytics has clear benefits to organizations of every size. Each organization – and the range of stakeholders in those organizations – will benefit from engaging in content assessment. How? In three main ways:

1) There is value to all stakeholders in simply understanding content better through analytics. Dynamically analyzing silos of unmanaged, uncontrolled content via content analytics provides new insight about this information stakeholders previously did not have. Before, stakeholders simply knew the ‘speeds and feeds’ about a content repository: the number of documents, the size of those document, etc. Content analytics now delivers insight about the content and that insight leads to better, more informed decision making. Which areas represent the most risk? Where should we start our governance efforts? Where should our priorities lie? What is the projected ROI of better information lifecycle governance?

Today, organizations make these kinds of decisions about their unstructured content repositories with limited data. More likely, they avoid making decisions because they lack this kind of insight. No longer. Improved understanding and insight about your unstructured information leads to better decisions about how to take action.

2) One such action to take is to decommission content, the systems that support that content and the systems that rely upon that content. Decommissioning is primarily an IT concern. They manage the costs of the information infrastructure. By default, most organizations have been doing nothing with their content. And as such their infrastructure costs have continued to rise. With an understanding of the content, you can take on these these once avoided decisions with more confidence. By understanding the content in a particular system, you can take action to shut those systems down and save costs.

3) There is a flip side to decommissioning old content and the systems that support content. It is that by understanding content, you will be empowered to preserve the necessary content. Preserving the necessary content enables the decommissioning you want to execute.

Content assessment provides you the ability to identify content that is valuable. This makes general line of business users happy, as they are resistant to decommissioning because they don’t want you to throw away ‘something they’ll need’ in the future.

Content assessment provides you the tools to identify content that requires lifecycle governance. The compliance officers and records managers will be happy because your organization’s obligations will be met in a documented process. You will be taking steps to enforce your content policies on disposition of content while still working to control your costs.

Content assessment provides you the tool to identify content that is legally relevant. The lawyers will be happy because they can use it to find the information relevant to legal cases where it resides in uncontrolled environments – and exert the kind of control the eDiscovery process demand.

Three main ways content assessment delivers value to your organization: via understanding of you content on its own; via decommissioning and consequently reduction of IT cost; via preservation and governance for fulfilling the needs of line-of-business stakeholders and compliance minded stakeholders alike.

Next in the content assessment series . . . what content is ‘necessary’ to your organization and how does content analytics help to make this determination?

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Written by Josh Payne

April 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

My College Laundry Habits and Your Organization’s Content Habits

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First in a series of posts on content assessment.

Not to scale . . . my college laundry piles were *much* biggerIt has been quiet around this here blog. One reason was that the month of March saw two “once in 50 year” rain storms in the Boston area. I got to learn some valuable skills in flood prevention as a result – unfortunately, those lessons came at the cost of activities like blogging and tweeting . . . but I’m back and ready to roll with a series of posts on a topic I’ve been thinking and working on over the past 3 months – content assessment.

I introduced this topic after our original announcement for our content assessment offering. And I’ve spent the last few months talking to IBM customers, analysts and other enterprise content professionals inside IBM. It’s an exciting application of content analytics technology to solve a class of problems that our customers have traditionally ignored . . . and hoped that it would go away — kind of like my laundry in college. Back then I kept on wearing my clean cloths day after day, hoping my laundry would magically wash itself. Not surprisingly, the cloths kept piling up. Finally, a random Sunday afternoon would arrive; I’d wake up, bite the bullet and wash my cloths. Ah  . . . to be 19 again . . . I digress.

Much as I continuously generated dirty cloths, organizations continue to generate content. And similar to the haphazard piles of laundry in my dorm room, these chaotic uncontrolled piles of content aren’t cleaning up themselves. And these piles of content are growing at a much faster pace.

In college, I’d wait until I couldn’t stand it anymore. And then I’d take action to take control of my clothing situation.  With the velocity, volume and variety of content growth, organizations are hitting a similar stage. They can’t maintain the same ‘do nothing, save everything’ practices about the content. The day has arrived to tackle those piles.

To IT, the costs are continuing to rise upwards (17% of IT budgets are devoted to storage alone, up from 10% just a few years ago). Records managers increasingly realize they can’t rely on users to identify and control business records. Legal needs to find the documents they need for eDiscovery proceedings – and fast.  Line of business users need better access and control of trusted content to better execute their business activities.

These information stake holders need better control over the necessary information for their business. But to take action to exert that control they need better understanding of their content landscape. They see the mounds of content, as far as their virtual eye can see. Years of bad content habits have created an intimidating problem that leaves them paralyzed as to how to solve it.

Content assessment solutions – powered by innovations in content analytics – are now ready to meet this challenge. Content assessment solutions deliver the kind of understanding organizations need to make decisions about their content. Empowered with insight about their content via content analytics, organizations can now take action. They can take action by decommissioning the content they no longer need. They can take action by decommissioning the systems and infrastructure that supports their unnecessary content. And they will be willing to take these cost cutting actions because they’ve identified and preserved the content that is necessary to their organization.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll post more in this series of posts on content assessment – covering in more detail who benefits from content assessment, what those benefits are, and the key elements to a content assessment solution. Its an exciting new solution area.

You can’t avoid the grappling with the piles of content . . . just as I couldn’t avoid doing laundry.  If your content governance practices are analogous to my college laundry habits, content assessment is an idea you need to learn more about.

Written by Josh Payne

April 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm