It has been said that “data” is the new “oil” of the 21st century. That is certainly true in healthcare where a unique opportunity exists to leverage data – as fuel for better health outcomes. Everything that happens with our health is documented … initially this was on paper … and more recently, in the form of electronic medical records.
Despite billions of incentive dollars being dolled out by the federal government to purchase Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems and use in meaningful ways, there continues to be significant dissatisfaction with these systems.
In a recent Black Book Rankings survey, 80% surveyed claim their EMR solution does not meet the practice’s individual needs. This is consistent with my own observations, where many express frustration that “the information goes in … but rarely, if ever, comes out”.
If the information never comes out, or it’s too hard to access, are we really maximizing its value?
It all boils down to our ability to leverage years and years of longitudinal patient population data to surface currently hidden insights … and put those insights to work to improve care.
It’s incredibly powerful to combine years of clinical patient population data (longitudinal patient histories) with other types of data such as social and lifestyle factors to surface new trends, patterns, anomalies and deviations. These complex medical relationships (or context) trapped in the data are the key to identifying new ways to achieve better health outcomes. Some organizations are already empowering physicians with these new insights.
Context can be critical in a lot of situations—but in healthcare, especially, it can be the difference between preventing a hospital readmission or not. It’s not enough, for example, to know that a patient has diabetes and smokes a pack of cigarettes each week. These factors are only part of the whole picture. Does she live on her own, with family or in a care facility? Does she have a knee injury that prevents her from an active exercise program? Has she been treated for any other illnesses recently? Did she experience a recent life-changing event, such as moving homes, getting a new job or having a baby? Is she able to cook meals for herself, does she rely on someone else to cook, or does she frequent cafeterias, restaurants or take-out windows?
All of these things and more can—and should—influence a patient’s care plan, because these are the factors that help determine which treatments will be most successful for each individual. And as our population grows and ages, a greater focus on individual wellness and increasing economic pressures are forcing providers, insurers, individuals and government agencies to find new ways to optimize healthcare outcomes while controlling costs.
Today’s data-driven healthcare environment provides the raw materials (or “oil”) to fuel this kind of personalized care, and make it cost-effective as well. But it takes savvy analysis to turn that data into the kind of reports and recommendations providers, patients and communities need to make informed decisions.
The good news: IBM is uniquely positioned to help organizations and individuals achieve these goals. The IBM® Smarter Care initiative draws on a comprehensive portfolio of advanced IBM technologies and services to help generate new patient insights that can improve the quality of care; facilitate collaboration among organizations, patients, government agencies and other groups; and promote wellness through a range of public health and social programs.
IBM Patient Care and Insights is a key component of the Smarter Care initiative. By incorporating advanced analytics with care management capabilities, Patient Care and Insights can produce valuable insights and enable holistic, individualized care.
Advanced analytics: Leading the way to Smarter Care
Several leading healthcare organizations are already on the path to Smarter Care and demonstrating the real-world benefits of advanced analytics from IBM. For example, in St. Louis, Missouri, BJC HealthCare—one of the largest nonprofit healthcare systems in the United States—is using natural language processing (NLP) and content analytics capabilities from IBM to extract information from patient records that are valuable for clinical research. By tapping into unstructured data, such as text-based doctors notes, BJC HealthCare is surfacing important social factors, demographic information and behavioral patterns that would otherwise be hidden from researchers.
BJC HealthCare is also using IBM technologies to reduce hospital readmissions for chronic heart failure (CHF). The organization is analyzing clinical data such as ejection fraction metrics (which represent the volume of blood pumped out of the heart with each beat) to better predict which patients are most likely to be readmitted. These insights enable providers to implement tailored interventions that can avoid some readmissions.
The University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Care is using Patient Care and Insights for three new pilot projects. First, UNC is employing NLP and content analytics on free-text clinical notes to discover predictors of hospital readmission, identifying patients at risk and improving pre-admission prediction models.
UNC is also using IBM technology to empower patients. IBM NLP technology is helping to transform clinical data contained electronic medical records (EMRs) into a format that can be presented to patients through an easy-to-use portal. Streamlined access to information will help patients make more informed decisions and encourage deeper participation in their own care.
Finally, UNC is using NLP to help generate alerts and reminders for physicians. With NLP, the organization is extracting key unstructured data from EMRs, such as abnormal cancer test results, and then storing this data in a structured form within a data warehouse. The structured data can then be used to produce alerts for prompt follow-up care.
This is just the beginning. As organizations continue to launch new projects that capitalize on advanced analytics, case management and other technologies from IBM, we expect to see some very innovative approaches to delivering Smarter Care.
Learn more about IBM Smarter Care by visiting:
For more about IBM Patient Care and Insights, visit:
As always, share your comments or questions below.
I didn’t know it at the time but my love affair with Apple began on November 22, 1983 … the day I bought my first business. I was 22. That fateful decision changed my life in many ways … and also unexpectedly started a 30-year infatuation with Apple. My business partner and I purchased a well established, and well known, family owned photo and computer business in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. The business had a retail component but the real growth (and opportunity) was coming from the commercial division who was just starting to sell personal computers. Our strength was selling to educational systems. We eventually sold the business but that’s another story.
In 1983, the computer business was very different world. Personal computers were just starting to catch on. This was long before the Macintosh took the world by storm in the mid-80s. There were a number of players, operating systems and technical approaches vying for viability but markets were beginning to settle around the following segments: personal computers for hobbyists (Commodore 64 and others), personal computers for business (IBM PC and compatibles), and personal computers for education (Apple II series). Commodore and others faded as Apple and IBM (based on the Microsoft DOS operating system) were the two surviving approaches. This was long before Windows and is still true today. The winners from the early 80s are still the winners today. Even though IBM smartly exited the PC business in 2005, the battle is still fought today between Apple and Microsoft powered personal computers.
Back to 1983 … there were no cell phones, no Internet, no e-commerce, no Apple stores and computers were manufactured in the USA … not in China. Both Apple and IBM used resellers (or dealers) as their sales channels to market. Apple even had a unique “black” version of the Apple II that was only sold to schools. This is where we came in. We used to sell Apple IIs by the truckload (literally). We also customized and serviced them from the ground up.
Through all this, I developed an insider’s perspective and a fondness for Apple. My respect and admiration for Apple has grown over the years. I’ve stayed connected and involved with Apple in one way or another at key stages of my career. I applauded the major successes (Macintosh, iPhone, iPad) and chuckled at the failures (Newton, Lisa, MobileMe). I’ve never had a reason to think poorly of the company. Until now.
It’s no secret I work for IBM today (see the personal opinion disclaimer). IBM and Apple haven’t competed with each another for years. One is corporate … the other is consumer. I point this out because I have no agenda driving me to write this other then my conscious.
Today, Apple is the most successful consumer technology company by just about any measure. Skyrocketing stock price, top 10 brand recognition and tons of cash (~$97 billion). Apple also stunned everyone with their recent earnings announcement. During the last quarter of 2011, they made ~$13 billion in profit. That’s more than twice as much for the same period in 2010, and more than any company has ever earned during a single financial quarter … except one. Exxon Mobil made over $14 billion in a single quarter (thanks to high oil prices) in 2008.
Are you kidding me?!?! Congratulations! They deserve all the spoils and accolades. Their products work better and are craved by the masses. Their customer loyalty and devotion is like nothing we’ve ever seen in business before … myself included. I have an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air and love them all. Within the last six months, I stopped using Windows and Blackberry completely. I outwardly promote how great my experience with the company has been. Even the AppleCare tech support is great … at a time when most companies call centers are a joke or non-existent.
But wait a minute, something doesn’t add up for me.
It’s the China worker thing. Over recent years … as Apple’s bank account has increased … so have the charges about labor conditions in iPhone factories in China. The New York Times, The Huffington Post and others are zeroing in on this at the moment. My Mom used to say, “Where there is smoke, there is fire”. We all know the media can be unreliable on these topics but they can be a pretty good watchdog too … just ask Rupert Murdoch and his staff.
In my mind, there are too many outrageous claims to ignore this any longer!
“Working excessive overtime without days off ” …. “Living together in crowded dorms” … “exposure to dangerous chemicals” … “Two explosions ‘due to aluminum dust’ killed four workers” … “Almost 140 injured after using toxin in factory,” … “Nets on buildings to prevent or deter stress related suicide attempts” … “falsification of records” … “worker suicides” … “beaten and interrogated by superiors over lost prototype”.
I want to know what is really going on. Are workers really beaten or killing themselves so I can have an iPhone … or so Apple can have even more cash? Neither is acceptable and both make me sick to my stomach. This can’t be true, can it? The more you read the harder you gulp. It’s making me reach for the Pepto-Bismol.
Apple is certainly not a bad company. They did donate $50 million to charity in 2011. But considering how much is sitting in the corporate coffers at Apple it seems light to me. I mean … they ARE loaded. Apple donations represent a paltry .1% of their holdings and are a far cry from what others are doing. Kroeger donates almost 11% of profits to charity. Even the allegedly “greedy” financial services firms are more charitable then Apple. These firms seemed to get blamed for everything but you have to give them credit on this issue (no pun intended). Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America are all among the top corporate givers.
But money is not my issue. Taking responsibility for your actions is.
I am not an expert on this topic but Apple seems to have a reasonable policy on supplier responsibility. However, I know from experience that having a good policy is not the same thing as enforcing a policy. Some of the reports out there are claiming that Apple is not doing enough. In other words, looking the other way and pointing it back to the labor contractors. Ahhhh … the beauty of outsourcing (if true).
It seems to me; that they hold all the cards and could fix this in about a nanosecond if they really wanted to. This nonsense has been going on for at least six years and needs to stop. Are the lower offshore labor costs worth all of this … loss of human life, inhumane conditions and reputation damage?
Apple is truly (and maybe uniquely) in a position to change how the world’s goods are made. It has the money and the muscle to effect major change. At the moment, it appears they lack the will, or conscious, to do anything serious about it. I wonder if too much greed is driving behavior in Cupertino? The numbers don’t lie.
Tim Cook should seize this opportunity and make this his issue. Following Steve Jobs as CEO must be an incredibly hard thing to do. I hope the new guy takes a stand and fixes this, before it is their undoing. Nike and Wal-Mart both survived offshore labor scandals and so can Apple – but the time for decisive action is now. Maybe it’s time these jobs come back home to the good ole USA.
I hope Apple grows a conscious soon. With new leadership in place, this should be easier to do. Good luck Apple, I still love you but I won’t wait forever for you to fix this and I hate the taste of Pepto-Bismol. Seriously, I wouldn’t normally blog about something like this but I felt the need to do something.
The Chinese government needs to man-up as well. The economic growth in China is literally being fueled by blood, sweat and tears (not a joke) of their citizens. I can only hope the conditions are not as extreme as being portrayed.
What about you … does it turn your stomach also? Are you outraged? You should be.
Blog update on February 13, 2011 … Apple issues statement about labor situation in China. What do you think? A strong enough response?
In case you missed it, IBM announced today the acquisition of PSS Systems.
You might be asking why? Organizations are striving for rigorous discovery, more effective information retention, and legally-defensible data disposal because of rising eDiscovery pressures and exponential information growth. According to Information Week, a whopping 17% – and rising – of organizations’ IT budgets is now spent on storage. A new Compliance, Governance and Oversight Council (CGOC) Benchmark Report on information governance revealed fewer than 25% of organizations are able to dispose of data because they lack rigorous legal hold practices or effective record retention programs. eDiscovery costs average over $3 million per case yet an estimated 70% of information is often needlessly retained; as with escalating IT costs, the root cause of escalating eDiscovery cost is the inability to dispose of information when it is no longer needed.
Organizations struggle with these issues. What has been missing up until now are: 1) a way to coordinate policy decisions for legal hold and retention management across stakeholders; and 2) a way to systematically execute those policy decisions on high volumes of information that are often residing in disparate systems. To effectively determine what is eligible for disposal, organizations must determine and associate the legal obligations for information and its specific business value with information assets. With multiple stakeholders, litigation intensity and information diversity across the enterprise, it is essential to coordinate and formalize policy decisions in real time as they are made by legal, records and business groups and automate the execution of those policies on information across the enterprise.
These problems are of high importance to legal and IT executives; 57% have established executive committees to drive better legal and lifecycle governance outcomes but less than 1/3 of organizations have achieved the desired cost and risk reduction results.
Organizations lack sufficient internal competency or resources to quantify the cost and risk business case and define the program structures necessary to achieve their defensible disposal goals. While 98% of organizations cite defensible disposal as the results they are seeking, only 17% believe they have the right people resources at the table1. The analysts predict that the market for these kinds of governance solutions will experience significant growth through 2014, they also point out that internal cooperation and competencies are barriers today.
Now with the acquisition of PSS Systems, only IBM provides a comprehensive and integrated enterprise solution for legal and information lifecycle governance, along with the business expertise that customers need to reduce legal risk and lower discovery and information and content management costs. The PSS Atlas legal information governance solutions complement and extend IBM’s existing Information Lifecycle Governance strategy and integrated suite of solutions. This joint olution and approach is unlike others that address only a single silo such as legal, which fail to systematically link legal decisions to corresponding information assets and therefore don’t fully mitigate risk or actually increase the cost of compliance.
Until now, organizations’ choices were limited, and reinforced their problems by failing to systematically link legal obligations and business value to information assets. Often initial selection of tactical eDiscovery applications left organizations with high risk and compliance cost and no path forward to defensible disposal because these tactical applications don’t integrate holistically with records and retention management, email archiving, advanced classification and enterprise content management systems and infrastructure.
Those days are over !! If you can’t tell … I am excited about the future of how we plan to help customers tackle these problems in concert with our new colleagues from PSS Systems.
I did a joint webcast this week with InformationWeek on strategies to deal with information overload (which made me feel guilty about my recent lull in blogging). On the webcast we conducted a quick poll and I was fascinated by the results. The poll consisted of two questions:
The first question was …
What is your organization’s current, primary strategy for dealing with its information overload?
The choices and audience responses were:
- Adding more storage 35.2%
- Developing new enterprise retention policies to address information growth 29.6%
- Enforcing enterprise retention policies more vigorously 9.3%
- Don’t know 25.9%
The second question was the same except asked in a future tense:
What is your organization’s future, primary strategy for dealing with its information overload?
It had the same choices but far different audience responses:
- Adding more storage 19.1%
- Developing new enterprise retention policies to address information growth 29.8%
- Enforcing enterprise retention policies more vigorously 25.5%
- Don’t know 25.5%
Holy smokes Batman! … I think we are coming out of the dark ages. Keep in mind that InformationWeek serves an IT centric audience and generally not the RIM or Legal stakeholders who are already passionate about retention and disposition of records and information. From this survey data I concluded the following from this IT centric audience:
- 29.6% already developing retention policies today in addition to those that already have them – this is progress.
- Adding storage as a primary strategy will decrease from 35.2% to 19.2% – this is amazing … and may be the first time “adding storage” wasn’t the automatic answer.
- Enforcing retention as a primary strategy will increase from 9.3% to 25.5% – IT professionals clearly understand that enforcing retention is “the” answer to controlling information growth, see Spring Cleaning for Information and How Long Do I Keep Information?
- 55.3% will develop or enforce retention policies as a primary strategy in the future – more than 3 times now prefer this to adding storage.
- Developing and enforcing retention policies is now the clear choice for a primary strategy to address information overload and growth over simply adding storage.
This isn’t the only data that supports this of course. According to Osterman Research, 70% of organizations share the same concern. A number of related resources can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2fayjwf including a webinar from Osterman and others.
Here is the replay link to the information overload webinar Content Assessment: The Critical First Steps to Gaining Control that serves as the backdrop for this posting … I hope you check it out.
In any case, rejoice with me … Ding Dong the Witch is Dead !
Developing and enforcing retention policies is now the clear choice and current primary strategy over simply adding storage by all stakeholders … IT, Legal and RIM. Are you seeing the same change in thought and action in your organization? Let me know by sharing your thoughts.
In case you are wondering how the garage cleaning went last weekend (see my last posting) … I filled several trash bags and boxes worth of items that were donated and several others for the trash. In order to ensure I was only disposing of unnecessary stuff and not valued items, I secured the approval of my family stakeholders before disposing of anything. The results we’re fantastic … I cleared several shelves worth of storage space that allowed me to reorganize for better findability. I now have plenty of room to store more items and everything is properly organized so I can find things in the future, including the lost flashlight, which is no longer lost. Best of all, it didn’t cost me anything except a little time.
It’s exactly the same with information. Like the unnecessary stuff I was keeping in my garage, information has a useful lifespan that ultimately requires disposition. In simple terms, information is created, used, stored and should ultimately be disposed of. It should be obvious from my previous posting why information disposal is probably the most important step in this “information lifecycle”.
Many people get confused by this notion though. The confusion comes in when deciding how long (and why) they need to keep things for. There are two primary schools of thought on this:
- Keep information based on how often it is used or accessed – the frequency of access model … or …
- Keep information based on actual value or obligation – the business value (and obligation) model.
The frequency of access paradigm gave us the term “information lifecycle management” or “ILM” a couple of years ago. This was a vendor driven idea that moved information between storage tiers based on frequency of access. It never really caught on as it didn’t address the core issues especially the disposal of information. It’s an interesting concept if your motive is to sell storage. Moving information around to optimize storage infrastructure is a good idea but only part of the answer. Business need, relevance and usage combined with regulatory and legal obligations truly determine how long information must be managed, retained and governed.
In simple terms, we should keep information because it is an asset (business value) and/or because we have an obligation to do so (legal and regulatory). Debra Logan (Vice President at Gartner) has been publishing excellent research on this topic. Best practices exist as well. The new Information Management Reference Model (IMRM), from the same organization that gave us The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), aligns the key stakeholders (IT, Business and RIM/Legal) with the key issues (asset, value and duty) and the key benefits (efficiency, profit and reduced risk). There are a number of other approaches as well, notably The Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles (GARP) from ARMA.
Best of all, optimizing systems and storage infrastructure based on business context of usage, not just frequency of access, is much easier to do when things are properly organized (classified) based on actual need/value.
In summary, the business value of information changes over time requiring Information Lifecycle Governance eventually requiring defensible disposition (more on that next time). I hope you manage and govern your information based on business value and your obligations. If not, check out some the links above to get started. I also hope your information spring cleaning is coming along as well as my garage is. I am so motivated by my results that the attic is next for me.
I find myself wondering (as I plan to clean out the garage today) what time of year we’re supposed to throw out all that unnecessary information we keep around. Since cleaning out the garage doesn’t qualify as fun in my book, I would sure be easier just to add space to my garage. That way, I’d never have to throw anything away. It would cost alot … and make it much harder to find important stuff among all of the clutter but it would be easier. Maybe I should just call a contractor (5 minutes) rather then actually clean out the garage (at least an hour or more). Hhhmmm …
It’s funny that when it comes to this aspect of information management we seem to always take the path of least resistance. I’ve lost count of many times I’ve heard “storage is cheap” or other reasons why organizations don’t properly manage the lifespan of their information. Most organizations don’t have a responsible program to properly dispose of electronically stored information. How is this possible when those same organizations usually have good control over and properly dispose of paper based information?
Sure it’s harder to properly organize, retain and dispose of electronically stored information but the keep everything forever model has failed. Buying more storage is not the answer. Storage already consumes (on average) 17% of IT budgets and information will continue to explode … eventually gobbling up increasing percentages of IT budgets. When does it end? It won’t by itself. Left unattended, this information explosion will eventually consume all remaining IT budget dollars and cripple or prevent any strategic investments by IT.
If that weren’t sobering enough, valued information is already buried beneath too much unnecessary information. Much of it is over-retained, irrelevant and duplicated. This is causing runaway storage and infrastructure costs and exacerbating power, space and budget challenges. It’s also creating an inability to find and produce critical information, especially under punitive scenarios and deadlines. How can anyone find and leverage the useful and trustworthy information lost among all the junk?
This sounds exactly like my garage … the power went out the other night and I was desperate to find that really cool flashlight I bought last year in case of a power outage. Couldn’t find it, which ended up being my motivation to clean out the garage and throw out all of the unneccessary stuff that is piling up. No garage extension for me! No offsite storage facility either! The fact is, I don’t want to spend more money on simply storing random unnecessary stuff. I have higher value activities to spend my budget on … like golf
Isn’t it time every organization did their own information spring cleaning? It would reduce storage/infrastructure costs, improve findability of information, reduce legal risks and increase usefulness and re-use of information.
Maybe you are already planning to clean out your garage of enterprise information. Leave me your thoughts on the topic or visit us at the upcoming National Conference on Managing Electronic Records in Chicago. We’ll be doing a special session on Content Assessment and how to use Content Analytics to identify and defensibly decommission and routinely dispose of unnecessary information.
With a few big ECM related announcements over the past couple of weeks … Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and IBM Advanced Case Management topping the list, I thought I would do a little crystal ball gazing and set my sights on the future. This is always fun and a bit risky at the same time. Consider Thomas J. Watson, Sr. who despite very scant evidence is widely credited with saying (in 1943): “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”. I supppose we’ll never know for sure if Watson said it or not, but despite the risk of being wrong, I share my perspective on what ECM will look like in 10 years.
In today’s ECM … You find the document you need
The Document is King
ECM as we know it today started as a way to control paper and evolved to electronic documents. From there it grew into something that could support the document sharing and creation processes and then into electronic business process creation, management and optimization. It has increasingly been enhanced and expanded in a number ways … most notably with better search, process and compliance technologies. Even today, nearly 30 years after the founding of FileNet (who is largely credited for inventing the industry in the 1980s), the document is the center of the universe with everything else in supporting roles. It’s become so easy to create and share documents we’ve lost a critical value point along the way … the context. Endless hours are spent searching for documents without the ability to know which versions are trusted and are an accurate representation of the business context. We’re at a tipping point of a business realization and content utility – while critical to the success of a business, a document is still only a communication medium useful for the ability to track thinking and provide historical value. A document is a form of communication, not the end goal of a business. Workers, in their roles, are what supports the end goal of business today. Successful businesses and their employees need technology to support their roles and to enable deliverly of savings and new revenue. Today … these same workers are expected to produce results AND manage / find documents. This dynamic will change over the next 10 years, driven in part by advances in collaborative, social, case management and other ECM related technologies.
The Context (or worker role) is King
In 2020 … The document you need finds you. ECM will evolve and minimally exist as we understand it today. The concept of ECM will have changed because it’s no longer about “content,” rather it’s “worker role” or “context” as the central planning aspect. ECM as we knew it in 2010, will have become more than content repositories, process, records and searching. Workers, and their business roles are the central aspect, with all processes and communication flows either inputs our outputs in context to these roles. Some examples are:
- Inbound and outbound communication are expanded to include voice and text from any source (unified communications becomes table-stakes).
- Processes are defined, developed and optimized around supporting role execution.
- Composite information dashboards are the interface across systems and processes and deliver in-business-context information on demand.
- Information is organized, trusted, proactively managed and self described.
- Certain basic ECM problems have been “fixed” and no longer top priority ECM issues (retention, disposition, eDiscovery, search result quality).
- Institutional knowledge is managed as knowledge, not documents.
- Content Analytics is the norm where Ontologies describe trusted semantic relationships from both internal and external information sources.
- Processes and system interactions become truly dynamic and can “learn” from historical execution to recommend streamlining options.
- On-premise, appliance, cloud and hybrid delivery models all interoperate and are invisible to end-users.
I could go on for pages but if anything remotely like this crystal ball vision comes true … the implications for all ECMers are significant. Technologies like Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Lotus Quickr, IBM Advanced Case Management, IBM Content Analytics are amomng those that will drive the next generation of ECM usage and adoption within business context of businesses, processes, workers and roles.
Time will tell if I am right or not. In the mean time, leave me your feedback … what does ECM look like in 2020 in your crystal ball? I’d love to see what everyone else thinks about the future of ECM (right or wrong) … after all it was the same Thomas Watson who said: ”The way to succeed is to double your error rate”.
I remember when I was in elementary school (don’t laugh), that my best friend Danny tried to change one of the grades on his quarterly report card. We used to walk home from school together and on this day we stopped at the corner drug store where he bought some office supplies and went about “altering” his report card. Ahhh … the things you think you can get away with in 5th grade … so foolish. It was a great plan for Danny right up until the point his Mom spotted the obvious change. Needless to say, Danny’s report cards could no longer be trusted as an accurate representation of his school performance. It completely backfired and his report cards got more scrutiny then he could have ever wanted, all the way through high school. I think he makes fake passports today (kidding). He actually works for a large financial institution (not kidding).
This one incident made Danny’s parent’s suspicious of the entire school grade reporting process and they never trusted report cards again. He ruined it for his younger sister too. It’s the same with documents. We need a better process (and technology) to ensure our documents and records can be trusted for business decision making. The implications in business are far more catastrophic.
Consider the large distributor who has multiple versions of contracts and supplier agreements. The business fails to reference the correct version of a contract addendum that materially changes key terms and conditions between the parties. This results in a dispute and has trickle down implications of disrupting shipments which customer complaints and cancelled orders … all because someone used the wrong content. In short, it’s paramount to have trust in out content.
Here are three strategies you can take to bring trust to your content:
Clean-up the backlog … assess and separate trusted content from suspect content. Decommission and dispose of what is not necessary to keep. Preserve and exploit your trusted content from your trusted content repositories (discussed in a previous posting).
Instrument ad-hoc and controlled document creation and approval processes … establish event and process based steps (or KPIs) to measure, trigger, review and monitor the accuracy of content that is designated as trusted.
Enhance meta data and leverage master data … to clean up dirty document meta data and reference trusted data sources within the enterprise. Ensure an accurate 360-degree view all information assets and meta data.
Obviously there are a number of ways to make content quality better and improve document based decision making. The trick is … how to do it without burdening the business users. Manual methods are thought to be easy but always fail as human beings are inconsistent, sometimes inaccurate and can refuse to cooperate. In some rare cases … humans take matters into their own hands. Don’t take a “Danny” approach to trusting your content.
Choose one or more of the above paths and increase the accuracy of content based decisions in your organization. If you don’t, I may have to send Danny’s Mom out to have a talk with you.
Before my digression last posting into a perspective on ECM systems integrators … I was describing the characteristics of trusted ECM repositories (see Step 1 – Can You Trust Your Repository?). Picking up from there …
Since choosing the right repository or content storage location is so important, how can we objectively evaluate the repositories we have? Use this scoring model to assess and designate your content storage options (including ECM repositories) as Trusted Content Repositories (TCRs)
Level 0 – is missing key capabilities like security, basic content services and APIs. This category represents file shares, CDs and other relatively unsecure locations. These environments are flexible and useful but the missing capabilities cause us to lose confidence (or trust) in the content we keep there. Imagine building an application that delivers critical documents only to have an end-user delete the underlying files.
Level 1 – Missing key capabilities like repository governance and lineage. This category represents SharePoint, wikis and blogs and other environments with user controlled governance. These environments are fantastic for collaboration and are easy to deploy but are missing essential capabilities when the environment itself can’t be properly governed and secured in accordance with IT standards (including the ability to meet SLAs). Imagine building an application that depends on critical documents only to have an end-user retire the SharePoint site that used to content the needed documents or records.
Level 2 – Missing a few key capabilities to instrument and automate workflows like event management and content federation. This category represents most ECM repositories from major vendors like IBM, EMC, OpenText and selected others. The missing capabilities enable us to have confidence the right documents are designed as “trusted” so they can be found, automated and consumed with confidence.
Level 3 – Has all of the key capabilities. This is the optimal level for trusted content applications. Only IBM FileNet P8 has all of these characteristics today.
Remember … if you can’t trust your repository you can’t trust what is in it, can you? Critical content must be stored in Trusted Content Repositories … it’s that simple. Next time we’ll explore what it takes to create and maintain trusted content. In the mean time, leave me your feedback on the model.
I am taking a one-week break from the 4 step governance approach to comment on a related topic.
An ECM consulting firm I hold in high regard (name withheld) recently published an article justifying a vendor neutral ECM consulting / system integrator strategy. As I read this article, it struck me as a very 1980s point of view. Back when the vendor landscape had hundred’s firms and the technology was less mature, this may have been an enlightened perspective and strategy. In this article, the firm laid out all the reasons why their vendor neutral strategy made sense but failed to point out the reasons why it no longer makes sense.
I’ll focus on a single reason … access to information and certifications. Having access to essential information is critical to successful ECM solution delivery and value creation.
Let me explain … I would imagine any vendor is willing to make a certain level of information available to any consulting or system integration firm that inquires. In the case of IBM, that information is limited to what is publicly available (as you might expect). Firms that have “official” relationships with IBM are entitled to another level of information, much of which is confidential and not publicly available for obvious reasons. IBM partners are entitled to, and depend on (to deliver customer value), access to detailed product plans, training materials and most importantly product and solution certifications.
Customers tell us they only want to deal with certified partners. They insist on partners having access to the latest plans and technical info … and they prefer those integrators who have invested in skilled and certified personnel to ensure high quality and high value solutions. When deployments become problematic, or fail, it almost always is due to lack of knowledge or skill by the integrating firm. This might seem obvious but it happens.
I know this particular firm protects itself against scenarios of this nature somehow, but I still fail to see how any “vender neutral” firm can provide proper guidance to any customer without access to critical information such as detailed product plans, technical resources and most importantly … product and solution certifications. What do they do … make it up? guess?
Of course you can still make “vendor neutral” recommendations IF you partner with the ECM vendors you make recommendations about. That way, you have access to information, tools and resources and an informed point of view.
It might seem harsh but from where I sit, what was once enlightened is no longer so. The consulting firms and integrators that deliver true value to customers have access to the latest information and are certified on the solutions they recommend and deliver.
I loved the 80s but times have changed … the market and vendors have consolidated … technologies are much more mature … it’s time to move on. Whether your vendor is IBM, or any of the other viable ECM vendors, only use certified consultants amd system integrators.