Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Document and Content Obesity

George Parapadakis, who works in Strategy and ECM Market Development at IBM in the UK, coined the Content Obesity:

"A condition in businesses in which there is an excess and redundancy of information. This condition generates adverse effects on the efficiency of the business, as well as high costs, a reduction in agility of business, and even risks on the legal side for these organizations.” 

The analogy fits really well. Obesity slows us down and produces a general breakdown in our systems. The same thing happens when businesses don’t stop accumulating content.
In the last few years, the world has seen an increase in the rates of obesity in humans; in the case of businesses, the tendency isn’t that different. These days, it’s easier to accumulate documents and all kinds of content because it’s easier for us to produce them. Have you ever asked yourself how many new documents you create at work every day?

According to the "Digital Universe" study conducted by the IDC consultancy, by the year 2020, we’ll have increased fifty-fold the volume of digital information that we used in 2011, and twenty times the number of units that we currently use to contain said information.

It’s true that the digital age has reduced costs related to storage if we compare them to the costs of physical storage; nonetheless, the costs related to bytes is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s think about what it costs to maintain this information (for example, the time invested in backup and other means of storage) or what it costs to find the documents that
we need, recovering documents that have gone missing, or confronting legal problems that arise from documents that have not been retained.

What is clear is that it’s going to be difficult to be able to reduce our level of consumption of digital content. Not because we don’t like it; it’s because we’re totally immersed in it: e-mails, collaborative work, online publications... The tools we use every day to carry out work, our need to be connected, and the abundance of information isn’t going to make us go backwards when it comes to consumption.

But there is a way out. Just as we have to look at the problem of obesity, the recipe is in common wisdom: You’ve got to speed up the metabolism of your body – or your business. So how do we do it? By using ECM technology, which allows us to maintain all of the information in constant flow, so that it doesn’t end up building up in undesirable areas and it doesn’t form bottlenecks, so that it doesn’t take forever to get it back, and so that we can avoid making it redundant. I hope that this small reflection is of use to you. 

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