Taxonomy is key to Effective ECM

I recently attended a seminar on the 10 Steps to Business Efficiency with Content, Collaboration and Process given by the good people at AIIM ( all about ECM strategies and best practices. This was a free seminar, well organized and well attended by a broad spectrum of representatives from all types of organizations, large and small, new and old industries. The topics of discussion too ranged from the most effective way to digitize archival assets; to applications to better allow for federated search across various data repositories; and then there was certainly a lot of discussion around what has become the most ubiquitous of ECM type applications, Microsoft SharePoint.

There were of course the usual quotes and statistics from AIIM, Forrester and Gartner regarding information proliferation and management today: The amount of data being produced is doubling every 18 months; 80% of this data is unstructured and 90% of that is entirely un-managed.

An interesting quote that I will paraphrase here was attributed to Thomas Washington , "The pursuit of knowledge in an age of information overload is less about the process of acquisition than it is about a proficiency of tossing things out." And regarding the storage of all of this information another interesting fact was thrown out: while 1 GB of storage may now cost an average of 20 cents, it costs $3,500 to review that same 1 GB of data and start to make sense of it in the context of your business. (AIIM)

As I listened to the various presentations and vendors I was struck by one thing: none seemed to offer a unified solution for using taxonomy more effectively to structure, classify and categorize the content that was going into these vast data repositories. Certainly it was agreed that there was value to such a process, but it is something that many organizations have still not recognized as absolutely necessary to fundamentally improve the tagging, organization and discovery of information within these huge libraries of data, documents, and other media.

It is our opinion that the integrated use of taxonomy applied to ECM applications, as well as across the rest of the enterprise, using a centralized and standardized set of vocabularies for navigation, search, discovery, meta-tagging and many other applications is a necessity in moving towards a unified means of data normalization and discoverability. To achieve this we offer services to get companies started as well as tools like Synaptica with out-of-the-box integrations to tools like SharePoint, but also more generic means of integrating with external applications via simple APIs and Web Services.

As the proliferation of data only increases over time and the means of digitizing archival records or utilizing native electronic formats becomes more efficient, storage becomes less a matter of cost and more a matter of management. The efficient means of identifying, tagging, categorizing and sorting information will be key to the effective operation of any organization.

A couple months back, my colleague also wrote up the 10 Rules of Successful ECM Implementation after attending an AAIM seminar that we have found quite useful in talking to business and technology owners about content access strategies.

We see many of our customers at the forefront of addressing these issues and working with them, we continue to work towards providing better and easier ways for data managers and end users alike to find what they are looking for. We look forward to sharing some of these use cases as well as hear from you on your successes and struggles!

Image| Flickr | ul Marqa