Have I Perpetuated an ECM Urban Legend?
John Mancini

By: John Mancini on October 1st, 2010

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Have I Perpetuated an ECM Urban Legend?

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Okay, I've got a confession to make. I might be guilty of spreading an urban legend. Yikes!

Many of us who present on content management often cite a 1998 study by Coopers & Lybrand (1998) in our presentations. Here are some of the typical data points:

  • 90% of corporate memory exists on paper
  • Out of pages that get handled in the office, 90% are merely shuffled
  • The average document gets copied 19 times
  • Companies spend an estimated $20 in labor to file a document, $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document
  • 7.5% of all documents get lost, 3% of the remainder get misfiled, a total 10.5% of problematic documents
  • Professionals spend 5-15% of their time reading information but spend 50% looking for it
  • A typical worker spends thirty minutes to two hours a day searching for documents

While many of us have used these stats in a million presentations, I wonder, "Does anyone have the original report? Does anyone know the actual name of the report?"

One of the speakers at a recent AIIM seminar on ECM mentioned the data, and an attendee asked for the original source. Having used the data a million times myself, I searched through my hard drive. No dice. Then I turned to the web. No dice. Many references to the "1998 Coopers & Lybrand report," but no actual copy or link.


To satisfy my compulsiveness, I'm appealing to the readers of this blog. Does anyone have the actual report? I'm offering a bounty and, more importantly, fame and fortune in the content management community to anyone who can deliver the actual report to me.

I will give a free AIIM membership for a year ($179) for anyone who can deliver the actual report to my email.

While I'm at it cleaning up loose ends, how about the ORIGINAL source for an even more difficult one -- "80% of the information in organizations is unstructured."  Same deal.


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About John Mancini

John Mancini is the President of Content Results, LLC and the Past President of AIIM. He is a well-known author, speaker, and advisor on information management, digital transformation and intelligent automation. John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of more than 30 eBooks on a variety of topics. He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as jmancini77. Recent keynote topics include: The Stairway to Digital Transformation Navigating Disruptive Waters — 4 Things You Need to Know to Build Your Digital Transformation Strategy Getting Ahead of the Digital Transformation Curve Viewing Information Management Through a New Lens Digital Disruption: 6 Strategies to Avoid Being “Blockbustered” Specialties: Keynote speaker and writer on AI, RPA, intelligent Information Management, Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation. Consensus-building with Boards to create strategic focus, action, and accountability. Extensive public speaking and public relations work Conversant and experienced in major technology issues and trends. Expert on inbound and content marketing, particularly in an association environment and on the Hubspot platform. John is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William and Mary, and holds an M.A. in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.