Bob: What do you think are some of the important issues facing business organizations today? (Technology and/or non-technology)
Cheryl: Businesses are constantly challenged to find balance between opposing forces. The rapid disconnect between inexpensive or free consumer applications and clunky, complex enterprise applications has forced companies to adapt and welcome some disruption or retrench and become defensive. ECM vendors, unfortunately, have contributed to some of this confusion with the pervasive compliance as a cudgel message over the last few years. Now is the time for a new focus on content management as an enabler of safe collaboration and a platform by which business can become agile in the fast-paced information economy. Where do I see the key debates?
Closed vs. Open
This debate manifests itself in several places. For IT managers it is figuring out how and where open source products can be used to fast-track development projects and reassert more ownership over the technology platforms being used to solve their business problems, and becoming less dependent on closed source vendors who aren’t investing in roadmap innovation. This will be interesting to watch over the next couple of years, as the IT acceptance of open source for infrastructure (operating systems, databases, utilities) moves into the realm of the information worker – enterprise content management, web content management, business intelligence, etc.
It’s also the debate that influences much of the Enterprise 2.0 debate. Closed work processes, barriers between work teams, fear of disclosure to outside parties, lack of trust of information workers – the struggle to encourage information sharing not only across the organization, but into the extended marketplace of partners and customers is still causing angst in many corporations. Finding the right balance between lock down and sharing, distribution of information inside vs. outside the firewall is essential for each organization to figure out – and there is no one correct answer that fits every type of company.
Destroy vs. Preserve
The seek and destroy message inspired by the e-discovery market needs to be balanced with a respect for corporate memory. Of course companies ought to clean house of irrelevant paper and electronic content – get rid of the noise, reduce storage costs, eliminate burden of searching, sort and disclosure when legal issue arises. But at what point does sensible destruction of obsolete transactional content begin to erase the more substantive content that might have value we don’t immediately see today?
This is perhaps more of an issue for public sector, but also for institutions and enterprises who shape our world – what value do we place on the needs of future institutional or corporate historians? At what point to we risk companies not being able to learn from past mistakes because the record has been wiped clean? The Records Management profession needs help their enterprises find the right balance between RM as a foundation for corporate memory preservation and RM as merely legal discovery smoking gun eraser.