How Intelligent Information Management Can Solve the Unstructured Data Dilemma

By Taylor Van Beek | July 15, 2021

5 minute read

How Intelligent Information Management Can Solve the Unstructured Data Dilemma 

COVID-19 forced organizations to think critically about their digital transformation as they transitioned to remote work. In February 2021, AIIM’s Industry Watch research program conducted a survey to better understand the current state of the intelligent information management industry (IIM). The resulting report, called the AIM 2021 State of the Intelligent Information Management Industry report, showed that only one in three organizations were prepared for remote work before the COVID-19 — many of them didn’t have the sort of collaborative tools necessary for managing a distributed workforce.  

This problem won’t go away after the pandemic. The report also showed that the volume of information entering organizations will at least quadruple over the next two years — more than 57 percent of it is expected to be unstructured data. The combination of these two things — the volume and variety of information — will create information chaos unless C-level and Information Management executives move quickly to address the problem.  

But leaders can’t take a lift and shift approach to data migration, as it would just shuffle applications and information around without radically redesigning content intelligence. What follows are the four main concerns outlined in the AAIM 2021 report that organizations need to address if they want to meet their digital transformation goals, as well as some proposed solutions.  

  1. Business and Technology Strategies Are Misaligned 

While some business leaders launched digital transformation initiatives to keep their operations running during the pandemic, others continued working toward goals created before COVID-19. Despite these efforts, nearly half of the respondents to the AIIM survey thought their organization’s business and technology strategies were either poor or needed improvement.  

Some survey respondents reported that the problem came from the top down. At the top of the food-chain, however, the C-Suite was most likely to believe that their organization was handling this task well.  

Clearly, there were some disconnects. One solution is to have the C-Suite and Board take more responsibility and actively drive change. Another is to understand that while business needs to lead alignment, information management needs to be more than just an idea — it must become an integral part of the organization.  

  1. Using Outdated Approaches to Battle New Information Management Problems 

It should come as no great surprise that the majority of survey respondents believed that their organization was losing the battle against information chaos. Again, while C-Suite executives felt relatively confident in their efforts, mid-level executives and non-managerial staff were less optimistic.  

Amid the transition to remote work, 25 percent of respondents believed that the biggest challenge was “digitizing, automating, and integrating processes.” Some thought that unstructured data was trapped in legacy systems, while others believed that the C-Suite didn’t understand the importance of data until there was a security issue.  

While information volume and variety drive Information chaos, a bigger problem is often not knowing what data there is to work with. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize the immediate needs by looking at governance, risk, compliance, and legal issues — is there a single primary issue common to the entire organization? That’s the one that should be tackled first.  

"As organizations rapidly scale their remote work capabilities and deploy new technology, IT capacity is increasingly strained.— Gartner’s Audit Leadership Council, “2021 Audit Plan Hot Spots Report” .

  1. Not Enough Investment in Content Intelligence 

The AIIM Survey found that major core IIM competencies haven’t reached maturity in organizations. These competencies include creating, capturing, and sharing information; digitizing information-intensive processes; extracting intelligence from information; and automating governance and compliance. 

Some of the immaturity simply comes from people not yet having enough experience with new technologies. One respondent said, “AI/ML is a teenager in the general business environment — we will closely monitor and wait for maturity.”

 But this lack of maturity also comes from having too many information silos — in other words, people don’t know what they don’t know. Nor do they know what others are doing if they can’t get a bird’s eye view of their entire operation. Desiloing information is key to solving this problem. Rather than starting from scratch, organizations can build on or repurpose existing applications. 

“Content capture is in the dark ages. Scan. Scan. Human indexing. People look at content as analogous to paper.” — Survey Respondent, AAIM 2021 State of the Intelligent Information Management Industry. 

  1. Focusing too Much on Technology, and Not Other Factors, in Digital Transformation

While technology is a key component of digital transformation, other factors also drive its success. Survey respondents reported that the number one obstacle to becoming a digital organization was the lack of budget and resources. Closely following this was the belief that there was a lack of strong strategy to manage information assets.  

Having a culture focused on digital transformation is a critical step toward successful implementation of a new digital strategy. Every person in the organization — from the top, down — should understand why and how they are moving forward. Rather than getting mired down by old, outdated methods of managing information, a culture of innovation will open the door to progress.

Maximizing the Potential of Digital Transformation with Content Intelligence
While an increased volume and variety of information is projected to create a tsunami of information chaos, organizations don’t need to drown in it. Treating information as a critical asset was important well before the pandemic — but it’s even more essential now. Embracing a Content Intelligence strategy will have all stakeholders thinking critically about this issue and actively work toward desiloing information. This will help organizations not only break through the wave of information chaos but capitalize on it.  

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Content Intelligence A New DawnSources & Credits

1Adlib, AAIM 2021 State of the Intelligent Information Management Industry

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