First in a series

As more information flows into corporations, the more places they find to put it. Little thought goes into how these systems fit into the bigger picture; and the result is information silos most everyone agrees are a drain on efficiency and profitability.

Now the cloud is about to make the problem even more complicated as explained in the recent AIIM Trendscape: Content and the Cloud:

“We spent a great deal of time and effort in the content management industry during the 1990s and 2000s first creating departmentally-specific content silos tied to business processes, and then trying to help users figure out how they overcome the limitations of these very silos through a more federated approach to information management.

“The world is about to become a great deal more challenging from a governance perspective. The cloud – both in terms of repository management as well process management – creates a host of new challenges related to the central question of information governance.”

As we pointed out last spring in A Novel Approach to Information Silos, no one sets out to create an information silo. Let’s review how they happen:

Legacy systems – Sure corporations want new and better systems, but all too often they park them next to the systems they already have. They are unwilling to give up legacy systems either because it is too difficult to migrate or there is really no reason to go through the expense and effort to move to another system. The current system provides the functionality the organization needs to do the job.

Mergers and acquisitions – This can be the trickiest of all with the ramifications of organizations that suddenly find themselves with two ways – or more – to do seemingly everything. Oftentimes the best way for individuals to handle these sensitive situations is to ignore them. It works for individuals in the short term, but for organizations it’s an issue long term.

Merger or not, each department inside an organization looks for a system or systems that address their specific requirements. When content in these different systems can’t be leveraged, time is wasted on repetitious tasks.

Vendor diversity – In their understandable search for flexibility, corporations seek to diversify their vendor base. More solutions from more ECM providers creates more ways to capture, manage, store and access information. All those collaboration and information-sharing tools can end up adding layers of complexity.

That brings us back to where we started: the increasing flow of information. As information volumes grow and compliance pressures mount, corporations will be under increasing pressure to store content in the most efficient way possible. The likely result will be more silos.

It’s a complex problem with no easy answers. But they are things corporations can and should do. We’ll explore them in the next installment of this series.