AIIM Survey Shows Companies Starting to Wrestle with Document Chaos
March 10, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The first step toward solving any problem is, as we all know, admitting that there is a problem in the first place. The proliferation of various forms of structured and unstructured information and the persistence of paper-based documents has made a mess of things. But according to a recent survey of companies performed by AIIM, an association of vendors and users in the electronic content management space, companies are finally starting to wake up and smell the ECM software.
AIIM used to be known as the Association for Information and Image Management, but has evolved into one of those organizations that is known by its old acronym even though its mandate has evolved alongside the market and the acronym is really meaningless. (This suggests a rebranding is appropriate, but that can be a real pain–trust me, IT Jungle was formerly known as Midrange Server.) In fact, the organization was founded over 60 years ago, and was once the National Microfilm Association. So AIIM knows a thing or two about document storage and has, to its credit, evolved along with the technologies used to create and archive data.
AIIM did its annual survey of member companies to try to get a handle on how companies are coping with what it calls the chaos of electronic documents, and recently released its 2008 report, State of the ECM Industry, authored by John Mancini, the organization’s president. (You can get a copy of the report at http://www.aiim.org/industry-watch.asp.)
“In the early years of our survey, we used to find an awareness gap between large organizations and everyone else in terms of understanding the implications of the information management chaos,” explained Mancini in a statement announcing the report. “More than half of those surveyed this year expressed either marginal confidence or no confidence at all in the integrity of their electronic information. This result was true regardless of the size of the organization.”
By their own admission, the companies taking the AIIM survey did not think they did a very good job of managing, controlling, and using electronic information. On a scale of 1 for terrible and 10 for excellent, the distribution curve was a nearly perfect bell, with the belly of the bell curve right between 5 and 6 and not too many thinking they were doing a good job. Only 30 percent of those surveyed said that they were deploying an enterprise-scale document and records management capability, and another 20 percent said that they are integrating document and records systems across various departments. Another 32 percent said they are just trying to get their hands wrapped around document and content issues at the departmental level right now. Only 4 percent are not doing any document and records management projects, and the remaining 13 percent of those surveyed are just getting started. Clearly, there is some activity here, even if there is frustration in the industry and among IT shops and business managers.
In a very interesting question, AIIM asked users to imagine that they were sued and needed to produce documentation relating to the party suing them, such as a former customer. Only 5 percent said they could crank out the docs in under a day, and 28 percent said they could do it in one week. Some 36 percent said they could do it in under a month, 21 percent it would take one to two months, and 11 percent said it would take more than two months. In an Internet world, that is just insane, but it is probably the honest truth. The pie chart showing end user confidence in their own electronic information was similarly not very good, but appeared to be honest. Only 7 percent said they were confident, but a little more than half of those polled were only slightly confident or not confident at all. There was even less confident that emails are being archived properly, which is pretty bad considering the new Federal rules of civil procedure that were enacted in the United States in December 2006.
As you might expect, with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint being the dominant way that business correspondence gets created in the world and Windows having the dominant position in departmental serving, the company’s SharePoint ECM software has taken off in enterprises. Some 33 percent of companies polled by AIIM have already implemented SharePoint somewhere in their organization. There are, of course, many different ECM products on the market, and they will continue to try to outsmart Microsoft.