This month, we've put together a great line-up of resources from across the AIIM community for you! Our goal is to keep you informed with the latest trends and information from our industry. We've also included an opportunity to participate in our latest research. Add these great pieces to your reading list and stay at the top of your game.
This is the second of three posts on the theme -- CFOs and Finance Directors: Neglected Players in the Drive for Digital Transformation. The first post was HERE.
The core point of the three posts is the financial process automation creates a value stream in two directions. It is a proven source of cost reduction for companies looking for marginal but sustaining competitive advantage, something that Finance Directors can use to "manage up" in their organizations in making the case for resources to drive financial process automation, which is the focus of this post. Financial process automation also creates the foundation for sound analytics and business intelligence, a priority of great concern to the C-Suite, which will be the focus of the third post.
The American Productivity and Quality Center notes that cost reduction is the key business driver for 43% of financial improvement initiatives. Let's think about the role that content and more effective management of unstructured information plays in delivering upon this promise.
“Often, internal administrative processes become frozen—despite the fact that, over time, they may cease to be efficient or effective. Asking questions in four areas can help you understand whether this has occurred in your department and whether you can cut expenses accordingly:
Reduced business requirements. How have the business requirements evolved since you last fundamentally redesigned the process? Perhaps the need for certain data has diminished or disappeared altogether. How would you design the process differently today, to meet today’s needs?
Manual processes. Where do you use people to process forms or information repetitively, rather than do it electronically, with little or no human intervention?
Exceptions to the norm. Do the routine 90% of items cost much less to handle than the exceptional 10%? What would it take to do away with the exceptional ones? At a large health insurer, we found that a 'clean' claim cost 80% less to process than one that required special handling. By redesigning its claim forms and eliminating exceptions that did not matter, the client saved more than half the cost of exceptions.
Timing. Could you save money by shifting the time of day, week, or month that you undertake certain tasks? For example, how about doing the work when activity in your department is otherwise slow? Could it be done more efficiently in batches? Is there a real penalty attached to being available online for fewer hours of the day? Could tasks be completed more efficiently if they were not tackled on a first-in, first-out basis?”
Financial processes have three key characteristics that make them a prime candidate for cost reduction efforts: 1) They represent significant cost to the organization; 2) They are characterized by wide variation in performance; and 3) They are typically very paper intensive.
Consider this data from the American Productivity and Quality Center (http://www.apqc.org). and consider what this means in actual dollars:
Let’s break this down a bit. There are five core processes characteristic of just about any finance department:
Financial Close Process
Procurement & Purchasing
What do these have in common? They are all: 1) document-intensive; and 2) must integrate with your broader financial and/or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning Systems). Your ability to automate them and reduce cost – your key to moving from a bottom performing finance organization to a top performing one – rests on putting in place a common document management infrastructure for all of them.
Automation cannot occur without strategy to capture documents that arrive from multiple locations and in widely varying formats
Disconnected and manual contracts, billing, sales order, and dispute resolution processes
Financial close process
Endless, frantic and manual end-of-month spreadsheet reconciliation
Procurement and purchasing
Manual purchase order processes disconnected with finance and ERP systems
Manual vendor onboarding
No central view of relationships with key business partners
Most organizations have not applied the lessons from the digital mailroom to their core financial processes. According to an AIIM unreleased survey of 290 finance executives, there are still many green field transformation opportunities in you core financial processes. Some would argue that most organizations automated their financial processes long ago. Perhaps on the data side, but not on the content and unstructured information side. When we asked, “What is paper usage in the following processes?” here are the percentages answering, “% answering “A lot of documents are processed as paper documents”:
Information Capture is a proven first step in digitizing information and improving financial processes. According to AIIM’s Paperfree Progress: Measuring Outcomes, 72% agree – “Business at the speed of paper will be unacceptable in a few years’ time.”
Financial process automation has been one of the bread and butter content management applications for years. But I think these initiatives need to be viewed not only through the prism of cost reduction, but also in terms of how back-end process automation and efficiency are now Digital Transformation table stakes. In a world in which customers and suppliers are being drawn further and further into our organizations, no smooth and beautiful front end customer experience can compensate for weak supporting processes that are inevitably the next step in a customer experience. Finance Directors need to understand this critical linkage and use it to "manage up" in their organizations in making the case for resources to drive financial process automation.
I find the auto-complete functionality in Google fascinating.
What I am referring to is when you type in a few words, and the Google algorithm predicts what you might be interested in based on your own behaviors and that of the universe at large. It’s actually more fun if you log out of your own Google account first, to get less biased result so that you can get a true sense of what is on the mind of your fellow citizens.
For example, if I start typing “I have a problem with” Google promptly offers this assistance:
This is a rather fun game. Try it. Here are the results for “John Mancini.” I am glad for the 3rd result, and also pleased to note that I have never been to Youngstown, OH.
The reason I bring this up is that the algorithm is essentially offering up words and phrases that go together, based on a huge pool of data and interactions.
In everyday life, sometimes this is useful – it creates a shorthand that allows us to speed communication. However, at other times – especially when terms and language are changing rapidly – it is reactive – backward looking – rather than predictive.
I think about this often as I talk with “capture” vendors and customers for “capture” products. Because we all have used the term “capture” for so long, the phrase is almost always with automatically or implicitly expanded to be “scanning and document capture.”
Now in some ways that’s OK. Because while traditional “capture” technologies have been around a long time, this is still a relatively immature market with lots of opportunity, especially among small and medium-sized organizations. At AIIM, I am constantly amazed at the demand for what I would call “Document Capture 101” content. At times it feels like I’ve fallen into a black hole and arrived back in 2002.
"Capture" Needs a Makeover
But the term “capture” now needs a makeover to take the next step. “Capture” – or some other descriptor -- needs to assume a much wider meaning in the disruptive world into which we are headed.
A world in which not only documents, but all kinds of information are being captured.
A world in which all the information we capture – or have captured in the past – is put into motion and becomes a rich source of intelligence, insight, and potential customer value.
A world in which customer and process information is being captured closer and closer to the point of its creation.
A world in which the “image” being captured is the least important part of the value equation.
A world in which information capture – intelligent information capture – becomes the key enabling technology for digital transformation, and sets the stage for the machine learning revolution.
Well, the other shoe called Documentum dropped (haha - wrote this lead before finding Cheryl's post below) that everyone was expecting once Dell and EMC got together. And in somewhat record speed.
AIIM does not take positions on things like acquisitions, but obviously the extended AIIM community is buzzing about this. I thought I would find as many articles as I could and put them in one place and let folks form their own opinions. If I've missed any, just put this link in the comments section and I'll add the link to the original article.
[Note: After having watched/interacted/evangelized this weird content management space for 20+ years, I obviously have personal opinions on all of this, but this is not the right forum. Maybe after a few drinks in a local pub. Let me know.]
OpenText does not have a history of investing in their acquisitions. The revenue streams seem to be there if OpenText chooses to invest in Documentum. Unfortunately, a somewhat distrusting user base needs proof and more than just an announcement. With 90 to 120 days of quiet before any announcement and then waiting to see any investment come to fruition, it might take a year or more to confirm the investment in innovation. Would clients wait that long given newer, cheaper and innovative alternatives? OpenText doesn’t necessarily bring the brand or clients that they could introduce to Documentum for some easy sales (think Oracle, SAP or Salesforce). OpenText does bring other positives, particularly knowledge of ECM and of how to run a software company (something EMC was never able to understand). With one less competitor on the field, the combination of OpenText/Documentum does position the combined company better in the ECM market. Can they hold off upstart competitors and new technology?
It is just a sad outcome for those of us who built Documentum all those years ago. Although I sold off my stock a long time ago, because I knew nothing about the hardware business of EMC, doesn’t mean I don’t care. Even though just about every single person I ever knew in Documentum is gone, doesn’t mean I don’t care. It has been fun competing with what was once a competitive company. Now it is just time to help pick up the pieces.
The latest acquisition marks a satisfying outcome for both buyer and seller. It offers Open Text a significant opportunity to consolidate the enterprise content management sector, whose vendors sell software that help business and government customers digitally store and access vast amounts of corporate information. It is a relatively modestly sized ($11.2-billion U.S. in 2015 revenue) but growing subsector of the enterprise software market, and Open Text has been a determined consolidator for years.
We wish the folks at Documentum well in their new home at OpenText. For the first time in over a decade, they will be in a place that understands what they do and appreciates both their technology and the strength of the Documentum brand. Hopefully Documentum will remain semi-autonomous within OpenText and be provided the support needed to return to strong growth. Of course only time will tell how it all works out but if nothing else a period of worrying uncertainty is over for Documentum and the real battle for supremecy in the ECM world can get underway.
So when OpenText tries to convert Documentum users to Content Server, in many cases, they are just opening the door to a review of migration to an alternative ECM platform. All Documentum customers have SharePoint and Office 365. I expect that many of them will use this acquisition to accelerate toward the Microsoft stack a1s opposed to the OpenText visions of ECM. I also expect many of these customers will continue to use Documentum. And by harvesting the maintenance and subscription revenue streams, OpenText can still make this a winning acquisition. Overall, I think Box and OpenText suffer from not having their own equivalent of the Azure and Office 365 cloud, so that they are dependent on others. OpenText has bought and built some cloud scale. And Box has partnered with Amazon Web Services and IBM, and is arguing that they are more of a layer above the dominant clouds. My bet here is that we get to the same sort of market consolidation as Microsoft Office in the 1990’s. One big winner. Guess who.
OpenText needs to be careful. It does not want to trigger shopping events for Documentum customers, and many are already in that process. Newer cloud-based content services, like Box and Drop Box are slowly becoming the next-gen repositories for content. And this means keeping the pedal on the floor for EMC’s Project Horizon, a platform-as-a-service offering for content services, it critical. Independently consumable capabilities, like secure collaborative document authoring and digital document exchange, which firms can use standalone or integrate into other consumable services, is the future.
From Lee Dallas, one of the Big Men on Content -- Strange Days
I have read many things this week written by friends in the ECM world, some lamenting, some celebrating the decline of the first generation of ECM vendors. Interesting inside drama, which I’m not above participating in, but as I look at the landscape, talk to partners and customers, and look for new problems to solve I don’t want to waste any more time than necessary emotionally processing the change. With the combined portfolio, customers have access to a broader range of potential solutions to their challenges in the enterprise information management space from a single source. This has real benefits for customers. It simplifies acquisition of commoditized capability and concentrates differentiation against the real competition. New business and delivery models.
There is a famous speech by Winston Churchill, Britain’s war time prime minister, to the House of Commons in London in 1942 after the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in World War II. In this speech, he utters one of his more famous lines, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” The announcement of the acquisition of Documentum by OpenText earlier this week brought this historic statement to mind, as it sheds light on how we at M-Files perceive this milestone in the enterprise content management (ECM) market.
Now the company [OpenText] has the complete picture: a portfolio that can accommodate small, growing businesses that desire scalability, SMB businesses that only want to buy what they need, and large, global enterprises with thousands of users and millions of documents across a broad range of vertical markets. OpenText can now market themselves as an end-to-end document solutions provider.
Enterprises need to take a long, hard look at their ECM roadmaps and understand how content services will help them in their own customer experience and growth plans. The old guard is consolidating and the pace of innovation in those acquired portfolios remains to be seen. New vendors are working quickly to fill feature gaps, attract new customers, and demonstrate success in the regulated industries that rely most heavily on ECM. The new players - architected in THIS century, not the last one - are stepping up. Understand the role of cloud in your own content strategy and dig under the covers to understand which vendors have designed to exploit these elastic, flexible architectures, and which ones are just hosting their own legacy products. ECM is not a dead or stale market - but is one that will look quite different by 2020.
Right from when the shape of the new Dell Technologies (with EMC) became apparent, it was obvious that the Enterprise Content Division (ECD) would be hard-pressed to maintain core business relevance – and therefore secure enough attention and R&D investment to move forwards. Documentum helped the ECD post around $600M revenue last year, but that’s down on 2014’s $640M. So even as a cash cow, it was starting to lose its appeal. The Documentum customer base has become increasingly lured away, with many investing in newer cloud-based and hybrid information management solutions from competitors that are better-suited to today’s digital transformation agendas.
For OpenText, Documentum is the motherlode: a customer base of marquee names in government and the private sector. Importantly, it’s a “stable, loyal and diverse” customer base” – so not ready to escape en masse any time soon.
If you are an existing customer of either OpenText or ECD, don’t expect anything to change in near future. Over the long run — and history tells us too — OpenText will not be able to focus equally on two big and complex product families. So eventually, one will decline.
Well, it happened. OpenText acquired Documentum. This brings to end the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) wars that began almost 20 years ago. Back then, the leaders were FileNet, Documentum, Oracle, and OpenText. FileNet is buried at IBM who is flirting with Box. Oracle is struggling to reestablish itself after bringing on former Documentum leaders but they are fading away.
This is a guest post by Paul Cleverley, a geoscientist and practitioner by background and is now an information scientist and researcher in the Department of Information Management with Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.
Asset Lifecycle Information Management -- a Manufacturing Concept that reaches beyond manufacturing
One of the core issues for manufacturing companies – or for that matter, any physical asset intensive industry -- is managing the technical information associated with the vast array of physical equipment that is needed to make the business run. It is here that the physical world (which drives the Internet of Things) truly connects with the digital world (information and content assets).
Manufacturers refer to this “asset change management” and the information management solution set associated with it is called “Asset Lifecycle Information Management.” Because the information intersection between the physical and digital worlds is: a) changing rapidly; b) directly tied to health and safety; c) critical to compliance; and d) critical to security in an age of natural disasters and terrorism, it is fraught with content management challenges.
What are the 6 steps that must be addressed in any Asset Lifecycle Information Management Initiative?
The state of each physical asset is a critical starting point.
Physical assets are changing constantly.
There are interdependencies between assets.
The volume of information that must be managed can be overwhelming.
Be prepared for a wide variety of file types and formats.
You will face a variety of user requirements that sometimes can conflict.
Check out this Tip Sheet for 6 Tips on Asset Lifecycle Information Management. It's a concept of direct relevance to any industry with lots of physical equipment that must be managed, but also one that I think can be expanded as we think about the implications of the Internet of Things.
This is the first of three posts reflecting thoughts on the role of Financial Process Automation in Digital Transformation. Yes, you read that right, and I realize it could be argued that this is one of the great oxymorons ever, combing "Financial Process Automation" and "Digital Transformation" in the same sentence. But stick with me.
Every business operates on a pretty thin line between success and failure, and technology disruption is making this line sharper every day.
We all know the survival challenges faced by new companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 50% of all new businesses survive 5 years or more, and about one-third survive 10-years or more.
But even when a business gets past the initial survival threshold, it must still constantly look for sources of advantage and efficiency. According to the Yahoo!Finance database for 212 different industries, the median profit margin for U.S. public companies was 6.5% for the most recent quarter.
6.5%. That certainly isn’t a very large margin between success and failure.
So the question for any business executive is whether you want to operate as a bottom tier company barely scraping by or as a top tier company, generating profits and investing for the future.
So of course, the answer is “Duh!” Alex Trebek, I will choose “Success” for $20.
How can you lay a solid foundation for digital transformation? How do you systemically get to be a top tier company? How can you push your median profit margin well above the 6.5% survival level of the typical US company?
According to the American Productivity and Quality Center -- an awesome organization, BTW -- an amazing 74% of organizations are currently engaged in a finance process improvement initiative. Why are they doing this? And how does this tie to broader Digital Transformation initiatives?
APQC notes that cost reduction is the key business driver for 43% of these initiatives, and that will be the focus of my second post. Financial process automation has been one of the bread and butter content management applications for years. But I think these initiatives need to be viewed not only through the prism of cost reduction, but also in terms of how back-end process automation and efficiency are now Digital Transformation table stakes. In a world in which customers and suppliers are being drawn further and further into our organizations, no smooth and beautiful front end customer experience can compensate for weak supporting processes that are inevitably the next step in a customer experience. Finance Directors need to understand this critical linkage and use it to "manage up" in their organizations in making the case for resources to drive financial process automation.
The same APQC survey also notes an even more important business driver for finance process improvement initiatives. They note that 50% of these initiatives are being driven by “the realization of the need for better business analytics.”
Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner in the Digital Transformation sweepstakes.
The focus of my third post in this series will be on how C-Suites need to drive finance improvement initiatives down through their organization, not just because they can save money and not just because customer needs require it, but because financial processes are a rich and untapped source of the data and analytics that is needed to fuel Digital Transformation.
So join me on the ride -- CFOs and Finance Directors – Neglected Players in the Drive for Digital Transformation.
There is a growing demand by and for employees to share and collaborate on documents with people inside and outside of their organizations. As a result, today’s businesses must carefully assess their file sharing needs, and pivot towards adoption of more synchronous methods of interacting with key processes and content.
10 Things You Need to Know about Enterprise File Sync and Share
First of all, if you don't know what "Enterprise File Sync and Share" means, that's OK. A colleague in a company recently asked a group of customers how many of them had unauthorized file sync and share usage in their organizations. A total of 2 hands went up in a big crowd. Mystified at this -- since this is a BIG issue in organizations -- but committed to his faithful Powerpoint, he plodded on.
Still mystified, he later asked his audience to be candid -- "Do you know what I'm talking about?" A few brave hands responded no, and he clarified -- "You know, lots of people using tools like Dropbox without any approvals or guidelines." Every hand went up. Score one for the use of technology marketing labels that sound great to vendors and consultants.
That notwithstanding, the "Dropbox" phenomenon is a BIG issue for organizations. We recently asked a group of end-user organizations for their perspectives, and the major findings follow:
38% of respondents say that 50% or more of their organization has a need to share files with someone outside of their organization.
58% of respondents say they are using third-party cloud apps for sharing outside of the corporate network, with 49% saying they use FTP sites.
When asked about standards for cloud-based sharing, 35% say they have some level of sanctioned file-sharing standard in place.
Unsanctioned file sharing tools are in use by 65% of those polled.
21% of respondents say they have an information governance manager or director in place. IT is held responsible for ensuring proper use of tools, policies, and procedures for 45% of responding organizations.
Lack of insight on what is being shared outside the company is a concern for 60% of organizations. Controlling who can share and data loss after termination of employment is of concern to 49% of organizations.
Education is a key element in preventing unauthorized sharing for 65% of respondents. Monitoring of the user community is a practice for 46%. Integration/Interoperability
Opportunity for integration is there for the 50% of organizations indicating they have no integration between their file sync and share tool and their core applications. A tightly programmed integration is in place for 11% while 16% say they use add-on products.
The ability to easily revoke a user’s rights, especially once they have left the organization, is a top feature sought by 77% of respondents. The ability to gain insight and audit file-sharing activities is high on the list for 60%.
Security is on the minds of 71% of respondents, indicating that the use of unique encryption keys is very important. Assurance that their information is siloed from other clients of a cloud provider is considered very important for 65% of respondents.
To respond to current customers, create new business opportunities and maintain an overall competitive advantage, organizations need secure, timely, and accurate access to key information. This requires a holistic approach to information and content management – developing and supporting an information ecosystem that offers an infrastructure for sharing, collaborating, and analyzing content in ways that enhance its value and maximize its use.
Here are some resources that may be of interest. Check them out -- all free.
Here are 2 new Infographics:
Stop, Think, and Share -- an Employee Guide to Sharing Content
We've also released a White Paper, What's Happening With File Sync and Share?
Today's guest post is by one of my favorite AIIMers, Kevin Parker. Kevin is synonomous with social media and the new leader of AIIM's NCC Chapter. His web site is HERE and his LinkedIn profile is HERE. He will be the featured speaker for an AIIM Webinar called "Work Beyond Corporate Walls and Silos" on 9/14. It's free -- register HERE.
Flexibility vs. Control: How to Work Beyond Corporate Firewalls Safely
Today’s workforce is increasingly distributed, increasingly mobile, and increasingly expecting telework options. This equates to more people working beyond the corporate walls and beyond the corporate IT firewall. But how can organizations offer such flexibility without losing control of their information?
Perhaps a more pertinent question is: do you have control of your information now?
In a world of exponentially increasing information volume, velocity, and variety, organizations are swimming in information chaos. The first step to bringing order and control back to corporate information is to develop a unified information strategy and architecture. It’s all about managing every kind of information from every source and every process and every device.
Some people tell me we should focus on flexibility and forget about control. Others say we have to control information and forget about flexibility. I say you can and should have both. The only real way to maintain an acceptable level of control is to also offer your workforce flexibility. This is more important than ever in this age of working beyond corporate walls and firewalls.
You may have the best information management system and internal governance on the planet, but if you don’t accommodate distributed and mobile staff, you will lose control. People will find a way around your firewall if you don’t provide it for them. Basement email servers, unauthorized cloud drives, and personal smartphones, oh my!
To safely work beyond corporate firewalls, follow the “cloud first, Web first, mobile first” principles of solution design for flexibility and control:
Tip #1 -- Develop a unified strategy, architecture, and governance. Document and clarify your processes and information channels and types into a clear strategic map. Streamline what you can and eliminate systems that no longer fit your strategy. Design an architecture that is simple enough that decision makers, IT staff, and vendors can understand how people, processes, technology, and information intersect and work. All information (including data, content, records, and knowledge) and all systems and devices should be under one umbrella of strategy and leadership.
Tip #2 -- Design infrastructure for the cloud. Applications in an external cloud environment are already outside your firewall, and this simplifies allowing distributed and mobile staff to connect. Most organizations are either moving everything to the cloud or planning to operate a hybrid internal/external cloud infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Whether using Software as a Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), systems maintained by reputable cloud providers are more secure, more reliable, and more scalable than anything you can build on-prem. Even your on-prem infrastructure should be designed as an internal cloud environment.
Tip #3 -- Design applications for the Web. Web applications can be accessed by any modern networked device. They can also be extensible and allow standardized data interfaces with other systems. Modern Web applications are easy to develop, manage, and improve compared to other kinds of applications. Not all apps have to be Web apps, but in many cases they are preferred, at least for the user interface layer.
Tip #4 -- Design user experience for mobile. Application interfaces should be designed to work very well on mobile devices first. Start with a Web-based browser interface that works equally well on mobile and tablet devices. Then progressively enhance the user experience as necessary for desktop browsers. Another way to approach this is “responsive” design that determines layout and features based on device screen size and capabilities. Invest in usability and accessibility. If it makes sense later, consider native mobile apps—but don’t start with these, as they are expensive to develop and maintain and are much less flexible for progressive improvements. Vendor-supplied mobile apps can be part of your capture process and are usually preferred over developing your own.
Tip #5 -- Provide a single entry point. Having multiple systems is okay. Having multiple entry points is not. Some organizations are moving to a single platform for information management to simplify everything from the user experience to pricing to technology management. But even if your organization decides to operate multiple disparate systems for now, creating a single entry point for users provides the flexibility and simplicity they need. The intranet home page can easily be this portal to all corporate applications, especially if these are Web applications.
What about security and privacy? What about single sign-on, mobile device management, and data encryption? These initiatives fail when they are done individually. But they are attainable with unified information strategy, architecture, and governance using cloud first, Web first, and mobile first design. Providing this kind of flexibility and experience greatly reduces the incentive for staff to find ways around your controls. This design approach also enables important functions like quality management, records management, knowledge management, business continuity, and information assurance.
People will take the “path of least resistance” in working with information. If you provide that path, you will have much greater control of the information from end to end.