Last year, much was made of developments in mobile, social and cloud content management, as well as the "usual suspects" of digital asset, Web content and collaboration management. But as 2012 quickly fades into memory, it's time to turn our attention to parsing out what IT professionals can expect this year in the way of changes across the information management technology universe.
At the risk of being called out at the end of 2013, I've taken a fresh look into my crystal ball and discerned a few predictions to share with you. In particular, I see some developments in store for the likes of SharePoint, big data and business Intelligence. Just don't hold it against me if it turns out that my crystal ball acts more like a Magic 8 Ball and this speculation is answered by some of that device's less welcome phrases: "outlook not so good … reply hazy, try again … better not tell you now … very doubtful."
With an eye toward the future, then, and some assistance from colleagues in the information management industry, I submit these four predictions for your consideration:
Prediction No. 1: Use of SharePoint clouds up
This isn't to say that the enterprise collaboration platform market leader will suddenly drop off the face of the earth. But many organizations that have struggled with SharePoint implementation, governance and management will realize that using it in the cloud can make their lives much easier -- and from there, they might realize that there are other cloud-based content management technologies that could save them even more angst and agita.
"SharePoint will begin to decline in adoption and use as cloud content management companies show they can provide 80% of SharePoint's functions at 20% of the cost," said Bud Porter-Roth, principal consultant for San Francisco-based enterprise content management (ECM) consultancy Porter-Roth Associates.
Prediction No. 2: Computing displaces telephony as mobile motivator
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"And what do you want to use your phone for?" the AT&T sales rep asked and, in so doing, perfectly framed the state of enterprise mobility today. There's little doubt that computing is displacing telephony as the phone's primary raison d'être.
"More and more workers are coming to rely on mobile devices to access their business information," said Bob Larrivee, director of the AIIM Professional Development Center. "This, in turn, is pushing organizations to consider options for incorporating mobile as part of their core infrastructure." Savvy organizations will therefore focus their efforts on securing their mobile devices and connections to safeguard their information and networks. If they can support voice communication as well, then so much the better.
Prediction No. 3: Big data retains little meaning
Everybody's talking about it, and yet, no one can say precisely what big data is. According to Wikipedia, it is "a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications." The question remains whether this has relevance in the world of ECM and enterprise information management. It very well could, if you agree with me that document repositories are collections of large data sets.
But until we can define just how big "big" needs to be for something to qualify as big data and which formats the data needs to be in, it will be difficult to determine whether "big data" is the right term to search on to identify suitable management tools. We can't just yet, and we might just have to be satisfied using Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous line from the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio case on obscenity: "I know it when I see it."
Prediction No. 4: Better analysis of all that info
Whether we call it "big data" or not, the fact is that organizations continue to produce and gather large volumes of information and struggle to figure out ways to reuse and gain value from it using information management tools.
"It has been estimated that less than 1% of data is ever analyzed," said Allison Lloyd, media editor for Document magazine. "The potential for business improvement [therefore] is vast." After all, there isn't much point to collecting information if you never manage to use it. And the drive to gain maximum value from the use of content and information management technology means that an organization will spend more time and money on tools that will let it apply true business intelligence to its information and business processes.
The bottom line is that organizations of all sizes continue to find new and more efficient ways to create all sorts of unstructured data. The technology changes that make this possible can be sudden and dramatic, but the efficiencies gained in information management initiatives often outweigh the growing pains. And that's no idle prediction.
About the author
Steve Weissman is a consultant and best-practices instructor in process and information management. President of the AIIM New England Chapter and a Certified Information Professional, he is the principal consultant at Holly Group. An active supporter of and participant in organizational strategy, requirements, RFP and user adoption initiatives, he can be reached at 617-383-4655 or firstname.lastname@example.org.