Enterprise information management is getting swamped by two self-reinforcing trends: data sprawl and silo-ization.
The challenges all enterprises face with knowledge management is spawning new tools, new roles and new ideas. At the heart of all of this discussion: How can we turn the rising tide of content into a force that helps us and drives us forward?
Explosive information growth
The amount of documents, emails and other structured information is increasing at an exponential rate. Everyone complains about the trend, but doesn’t do much about it – when was the last time you stopped before adding someone in cc to an email? So, despite initiatives such as email free days the sum total of information stored on company servers is not going to reduce anytime soon. And with new sources such as social media and mobile phone apps coming on stream, the information a company has to manage will continue to rocket in the future.
The multiplication of silos
A direct consequence of this unrestricted growth of information has been the creation of silos of knowledge, isolated from each other, leading to duplication and potential inconsistency. Integrating these and creating data warehouses has spawned a whole new category of software, but still the problem hasn’t been solved. In reality it is unsolvable – while everyone rails against them, silos spring up because they are essentially how humans operate – as Jack Vinson points out we have to put information in buckets that are small enough for our brains to comprehend. Sweep away silos and next day more will spring up – whether it is just keeping documents on a desktop or storing information in emails.
So, given these two factors, is the growing army of knowledge professionals fighting a losing battle when it comes to organising information? Gartner obviously believes not as they see enterprise content management as a key area for business differentiation. M&A in the area, such as HP’s purchase of Autonomy also demonstrates how hot a topic it is in the market today.
A knowledge management shift
What is actually needed is a fundamental change in how we approach Enterprise Information Management. So rather than trying to force people to neatly store information in pre-defined pigeon holes it is time to turn Knowledge Management around and work with human nature rather than against it. Let people save their documents wherever works for them, but put in place an overall, cloud-based platform that has the ability to quickly find knowledge across the entire organisation. This way information professionals can access enterprise critical data and harness it, making sure that knowledge really is power.