AIIM logo“Extreme Information: Volume, Variety, Devices,” the title of the AIIM Conference going on this week in New Orleans, should leave no doubt as to what the Association of Information and Image Management thinks about the direction of enterprise content management.

AIIM said the conference featuring Seth Godin, futurist Thornton May, Forrester analyst Cheryl McKinnon and others, “is ONLY for those who are ready to think strategically about information management on a massive scale; to embrace the stewardship, optimization, and application of their enterprise information assets.”

Perhaps this level of enthusiasm isn’t a surprise given that the AIIM Executive Leadership Council has discussing Big Data and its implications in a process that culminated in a recent white paper on the topic. “The Big Data Balancing Act: Too Much Yin and Not Enough Yang?” attempts to tell information professionals what they should be doing about Big Data.

In the forward, AIIM President John Mancini writes, “As I think about this question of harnessing our information assets and optimizing them to our competitive advantage, it has never been more important to balance the needs of technology with the needs of the business. Like many technologies in the early stage of the hype cycle, most of the discussion about big data has centered on the technology, not what you do with the technology.”

We’ve been talking about Big Data — Big Content, actually — for a while now and several things are clear.

1. ECM systems need to be able to handle structured and unstructured data. Unstructured data volumes are growing rapidly, and content management systems need to be handle both data types. They also must be effective in environments in which mainframe and distributed platforms are in use.

2. Unstructured data is already being used for business benefit. We’ve talked here about how a healthcare organization used it to track re-admission triggers for Medicare beneficiaries, how a big bank tied unstructured information on customer interactions to its wider ECM system, and how utilities are using unstructured data streams to judge the severity of outages and surges.

3. Robust indexing is key. An index-based approach yields a far more focused search result because it predetermines and defines the values upon which future searches will be based.

The AIIM Conference was designed to instruct attendees in six “revolutionary imperatives.” No. 5 is “Mine big content – Find insights and value in massive aggregations of unstructured information.”