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Clearly, management and compliance mean two different things, and even more so when it comes to the systems and groups supporting these two disciplines. One could argue that management is a necessary-but-not-a-sufficient condition for compliance. This is particularly true when it involves accessing information from a wide variety of sources, profiling the data to assess its quality, cleansing the data to improve quality, and making relevant content available in its original form.

The quality of business data drives not only the business critical applications but also the analytics and executive decision making that are critical to the future of the business. However, more often than not, the enterprise content (a.k.a. unstructured data that makes up over 85 percent of the information (estimated by most analysts) in an organization) is overlooked when it comes to managing information within the context of business decision making and compliance.

There are three plausible explanations for why this is the case:

  • The nature of unstructured content is such that it doesn’t lend itself easily to analytics, with the exception of maybe social media-based analytics applications.
  • Since unstructured data doesn’t natively exists in database rows and columns, it’s also very hard to find analytical tools that deliver meaningful business insights and relevance.
  • Over half (58%) of the largest organizations considered it “impossible” or “very difficult” to align departmental interests and IT projects with providing a universal view of all relevant information to various line of businesses. ((AIIM whitepaper: ECM Decision Processes: Who Is Involved and What Are the Issues).


In the same AIIM study, research indicated that “73% of all organizations have a strategy to provide their knowledge workers with a single, integrated view of all of their information assets. They share the vision of a universal content and records management environment, integrated with the business and its processes. In reality, progress towards this vision is slow.” The study further outlines that the problem is not technical but rather “different ownerships,” “different priorities,” and different KPIs.

I invite you to read the AIIM whitepaper and Including Business Content in a Comprehensive Information Management Program, a thought leadership paper by Dr. Andreas Engel. In this latter paper, Dr. Engel looks at how addressing information management holistically—including both structured and unstructured data—not only helps companies make smart business decisions  but to do so within the realm of compliance

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