How Content Management Greases The Wheels Of Human Interactions

Bil Khan

Part 3 in the 3-part “Content Management ROI” series

When building a business case for investing in enterprise content management (ECM) solutions, it’s easy to overlook the human element. Sure, ECM solutions provide effective management of all types of enterprise content throughout the content lifecycle. Ideally, they provide for the secure, automated capture, storage, organization, and search of documents, complete with archiving and records management for auditing and compliance. But for what purpose?

Ultimately, ECM solutions aren’t about the content; they are for people who need fast, easy access to information, and the ability to search in a way relevant to their roles. This capability enables people to work together and solve problems faster: a contact center agent assisting a frustrated customer, for example, or an insurance underwriter onboarding a new policy, or an engineering team with easy, on-site access to current changes to construction drawings via mobile devices.

You know what it’s like in the real world before ECM. An internal customer asks you to provide time-sensitive information for an important report. But to do that, you need to interact with various systems with different interfaces. You log into each and do your best, but after two hours of effort, you can’t find what you need, as the content is fragmented and in different formats. It may not have been handled correctly, and isn’t easily searchable. It takes you five working days to dig around and uncover what’s needed – and you still can’t be sure your file is complete or whether it’s the most current document. You ultimately find it by digging around in paper files. But by then, the process for your internal customer has broken down.

A connected enterprise

ECM digitizes the end-to-end process for both structured data and unstructured content, organizing it for searchability and connecting it across the enterprise. Now information is automatically catalogued, up to date, and accessible from anywhere, on any device. The content is access-controlled and compliant, with a complete audit trail of the most recent changes. Now users can devote their time to more important tasks, confident that files are complete and current, and thus better meet the needs of employees, customers, and suppliers. ECM literally transforms how work gets done and problems get solved, and unlocks huge improvements in productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction while reducing job stress.

Why? Because information greases the wheels of human interactions, which are fundamental to how we as humans innovate, collaborate, and work. As noted by Forrester in the recent TEI study on ECM solutions, when people and teams are extended, that’s when the magic happens. In this study:

“Each organization gave Forrester an account of discovering value so great that they were reluctant to calculate a financial amount. What is the value, for example, of automatically generating a technical drawing that describes exactly the one-off assembly part the company wishes to purchase from an overseas supplier, with all supporting documents to initiate, authorize, and pay for the purchase? Lead time and errors go to zero, with follow-on value from the company’s customers in the form of loyalty and repurchase. Or another example: what is the value of putting a property diagram in the hands (or rather, onto a mobile device) of a utility worker so she knows exactly where (and where not) to dig? ‘We can’t put a number on that,’ was heard repeatedly during the interviews.”

I would argue that these are examples of what’s possible when easy, fast access to enterprise information is at employees’ fingertips.

An asset management example

To illustrate further, consider the example of using digital twins, which Gartner identified as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018. Gartner noted that well-designed digital twins of assets have the potential to significantly improve enterprise decision-making.

How do you go about building a digital twin for your enterprise assets?

The key is to enable a 360-degree view of all information related to your equipment from both internal and external sources in order to create a complete digital replica of your physical assets, processes, and systems. Without a way to connect the information from all these sources, you may end up with incomplete or inaccurate information. Integrating an ECM solution into a network – one that connects suppliers, OEMs, and third-party service providers – could be the fastest, easiest way to achieve a 360-degree view of all information.

It’s important to note that assets are continuously changing because of maintenance, repairs, and other events. These changes may require updates in multiple systems of record to ensure safety, efficiency, and operational integrity. This means that the digital twin needs to be constantly updated with new information (think updated operating manuals, repair manuals, and training videos).

Integration with an intelligent network solution provides a single, intuitive interface to easily access online asset information from external sources such as suppliers, OEMs, engineering and procurement companies, and third parties. You can use this external information to enrich the asset data, including any documents, and then propagate this information through internal systems such as those for plant maintenance, as well as GIS, SCADA, content management, and engineering design systems.

This integration allows you to make informed decisions about managing and maintaining your assets, and it delivers far-reaching operational advantages such as:

  • Lower plant maintenance costs as a result of more efficient spares and parts management
  • Reduced safety and compliance risk through more accurate equipment data
  • Increased plant uptime due to more complete and accurate asset information
  • Improved plant reliability and enhanced operational compliance

Learn more

I encourage you to read the Forrester study to understand how the digitization of unstructured information is not only the starting point for digital transformation, but also for more efficient, effective, and rewarding human interactions central to how your business operates. Once content is stored systematically and cataloged so it can be intelligently searched and retrieved, quickly and easily, by the people who need it, you’ve paved the way for their success.