Data management key to profit, says analyst

IT managers should review how they manage the growing amount of data produced by their organisations to improve their bottom...

IT managers should review how they manage the growing amount of data produced by their organisations to improve their bottom line, Butler Group has advised.

With data volumes doubling every year, the analyst company believes a disorganised approach to storing corporate data is hitting the profits of many companies.

One way to manage the mushrooming volume of data is through enterprise content management (ECM) technology, Butler Group said in a report on ECM published in February.

ECM systems – also known as document management systems – help users centrally store and distribute a wide variety of information, including web content, transactions, e-mails and web-based XML data.

The information might be in Microsoft Office documents, letters, notes, presentations, e-mails, or operational documents such as purchase orders or invoices.

Another attraction of ECM is its potential to help organisations comply with regulations by tracking information and reusing it in different formats.

"Users’ current ability to index, store, search and retrieve information does not allow organisations to understand their businesses well enough to produce value," said Tim Jennings, Butler Group research director and author of the report on ECM.

"Measurement requires ECM suppliers to incorporate the discipline of information transactions into their products and businesses to gain a better understanding of that information."

Organisations can also use ECM software to share information about employees and their skills across departments.

"In the past, much of the knowledge within a company would have been in the heads of employees, which is why employees were always regarded as an organisation’s greatest asset," said the Butler report.

"When the employee left the company, so did the knowledge they had acquired. Content management provides the ability to centrally store that knowledge and to share it with other employees to the benefit of the whole organisation."

Butler Group added that the pressure on IT directors to measure the cost of handling information could make ECM software as important to corporate IT as enterprise resource planning systems were during the 1990s and earlier this decade.

"In the same way ERP dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s, information management will be the application trend of the next five years," said the report.

"[ECM] will enable organisations to accurately measure the costs and value of handling information and understand how to use this data to the best advantage, as well as meet increasingly severe compliance regulations."

ECM systems can also be linked to other parts of an organisation’s IT infrastructure through web services technology, added Butler Group.

Five things ECM can do for a business

  • Create content – using either office applications or specialist enterprise content management tools
  • Capture content – bring existing documents and images within the central ECM system
  • Indexing and searching – create searchable indexes of documents
  • Content repository – secure storage for different types of content that can be accessed by authorised employees
  • Workflow – ECM systems can route documents and content between individuals and business processes.

Source: Butler Group

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