By Ken Peters, Executive VP, Digitiliti
The foundation of any business is its people. They are directly responsible
for performing functions that increase the value of the business. How do they
do this? They do it by communicating with customers - sending emails, creating
proposals, analyzing and processing data. As they do so, they build a knowledge
base of their customers, competition, industry, employees, product information,
business processes and the like. Eighty percent of this knowledge is comprised
of presentations, office documents, emails, or what is otherwise referred to
as unstructured data.
With each employee creating unstructured data every day, the organization quickly
begins to amass a mountain of potential intelligence. But in creating that mountain
of data comes the problems of managing the ever-growing volume, backing it up
and protecting it, complying with regulatory data requirements, and simply just
recalling this information when you need it. Most organizations spend a considerable
portion of their budget and energy simply working on the problems of managing
data growth without retaining the ability to fully utilize all the information
being created in order to improve their operations and competitive advantage.
But what if you changed the way you thought about and dealt with information?
Take yourself out of the data management paradigm and put yourself into a new
world of thinking about how you leverage all the content that is created within
your organization. Make content a strategic advantage by being able to put it
into context for analysis and action. You can do this if you structure unstructured
data objects into manageable workflows, actionable context, and governance and
policy driven activities as part of a virtual corporate library of organizational
intelligence that is accessible at your fingertips.
What does that really mean? Here are two real-world examples. Suppose you are
head of sales working with a current customer (Company X) on a new business
opportunity and are in heated competition with two of your fiercest competitors.
You would want to know as much information about your organization's current
relationship with Company X as you could during this negotiation. There are
two other sales reps from your company working the account. You have existing
orders being filling in the warehouse, you have accounts receivable personnel
dealing with Company X's people, and you've initiated executive contact to help
position and influence your bid. Information about Company X is being generated
every day somewhere within your organization.
Wouldn't it be helpful if you knew that a particular order for Company X was
never properly fulfilled? How about the invoice issue between your company and
Company X that stands unresolved? Are you sure that communication between all
members of your sales team is synchronized and coordinated? One way to properly
leverage all content about Company X is to have it automatically routed to a
centralized folder and have it notify you that it is available for review. That
is putting content into context and gives your company the competitive advantage.
In the second example, suppose you are part of a financial management company
and are responsible for corporate compliance by auditing emails and other documentation
going out to customers to ensure your financial planners are not guaranteeing
any returns on customer investment. You have a full-time person screening emails
and documents for specific words that might be problematic. What if you could
automatically identify keywords as a document is being created and either alert
the creator citing the keyword issue or route it to a compliance folder? Your
financial planners are happier because now their privacy is not being intruded
upon, and you protect them from making an honest mistake that could become a
compliance issue, as well as a potential litigation issue. That is putting content
into context for efficiency and a myriad of other benefits.
So, given the current approach, processes, architectures and technologies, how
do you go about rethinking your IT strategy? How do you transform your approach
and mentality toward the concept of creating information content that can be
put into context for organizational efficiency and competitive advantage? A
storage-only strategy does not suffice. One must start with business objectives
centered on use of data for knowledge. Ask yourself this:
1. How do I make better strategic and tactical business decisions?
2. How do I enable my employees to report on, analyze and optimize business
operations to reduce costs but increase revenue?
3. How do I react faster to business needs and anticipate business opportunities
in advance, rather than reacting to problems?
4. How do I protect my organization from unknown risks?
5. How do I meet information compliance regulations?
6. How long do I need to retain the data? Does it depend on who creates the
7. What type of controls do I need to have on the data?
Can users search and retrieve their own content or do you need to enable collaboration?
Is it necessary to monitor and control content users create?
8. How do I control the cost of data management yet get value from archived
In our professional lives, aided by technology to facilitate business at light
speed, we have become collectors of information. It is no wonder organizational
data is growing 60 to 120 percent per year (IDC). Our hard drives and email inboxes
are like that junk drawer everybody has in their house - we just keep filling
it up until we can't stuff anymore into it. We put it there thinking that we can
find it just in case we need it. But sooner or later you can't even open the drawer
to find what you are looking for.
Rather than maintaining or expanding an increasingly complex storage infrastructure
that fails to reign in the costs of information growth, wouldn't it make sense
to provide a single, integrated solution that automatically turns unstructured
data into content, organizes the content, controls proliferation, enables access
to it, and puts it into context to be used for analysis and decision-making
regardless of where this data resides? Building such a system that is simple
to use and enables centralized control from point of origin to final disposition
is the best way for organizations to gain command and control over the content
and information assets an organization creates daily.
In implementing a dynamic storage management system built upon an operational
business intelligence foundation and utilizing a centralized information policy
engine to identify, capture, secure, store and archive information assets, companies
now have a cost-effective, simple-to-administer tool for managing and protecting,
not data, but information assets. Organizations can have the ability to easily
consolidate disparate sources (documents, emails, spreadsheets, etc.) of common
information, no matter where they reside, for analysis, business intelligence
and action. End users will be able to access files and emails regardless of where
they reside. Sales heads and compliance officers will be able to tap the intelligence
of all the content a company is paying to store and protect through a centralized
information policy control and management, from the point of origin of files and
email through their final disposition.
By changing the rules of the game, organizations can create content that can
be easily accessed and put into context for efficiency and competitive advantage.
The wealth of business information created, stored and updated every day by
your employees is the foundation of your business and is an asset to be leveraged
rather than an expense to be managed. It's not about the storage technology;
it's about information as an asset - being able to easily put created content
into context for strategic advantage. Take care to protect, secure and organize
your content so you can attain optimal operational efficiencies in your day-to-day
operations and in your strategic planning. At the end of day, it's all about
your competitive edge and maximizing profit.
About the Author
Mr. Ken Peters brings over twenty years of sales and marketing expertise in the
Security, Configuration Management, Business Intelligence, and Storage
Management markets. Previously, Mr. Peters has held executive positions with
New Boundary Technologies, Centerfield Technology, Software Moguls(EMC) and
ShowCase Corporation(SPSS). Mr. Peters has an exceptional track record of
success building worldwide sales/marketing organizations and channels for
high-growth and profitability. Mr. Peters holds a degree in Organizational
Communications and Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Eau