Over three years ago, AIIM – the non-profit association dedicated to nurturing, growing, and supporting the information management community – introduced the concept of Intelligent Information Management (IIM), and began researching the connections between IIM and Digital Transformation.

As part of their Industry Watch Research Program, AIIM conducted a survey to assess the impact of the rising tide of information chaos on the effectiveness of transformation initiatives, the adoption rates of core IIM technology building blocks, and IIM best practices.

The survey and respondent demographics

The survey was taken this year using a web-based tool. All the participants were drawn from the AIIM Community, an informed audience that understands the benefits and the reality of information management in their organizations. In fact, survey respondents’ job roles break out to about 51% in RM/DM/CM/IG; 23% in Line of Business or management process; 14% in IT; and 12% in ‘Other’.

The organization specifically framed this research around four core IIM capabilities:

  1. Creating, Capturing, and Sharing Information
  2. Digitalizing Information-Intensive Processes
  3. Extracting Intelligence from Information
  4. Automating Governance and Compliance

The Findings

What AIIM’s survey found was that on average, organizations expect the volume of information coming into their organizations to grow to 4.5X over the next two years. They expect more than 57% of this information to be unstructured (like a contract or a conversation) or semi-structured (like an invoice or a form). It is the convergence of these twin forces – information volume and information variety – that creates information chaos and makes true digital transformation so challenging.

The second key element in understanding how information management changed is the impact that COVID had on demands for remote work and on the tools necessary to do so effectively and securely.

Only one in three organizations were prepared for the challenges of remote work prior to COVID, and thus many organizations were forced into a mad ad hoc dance to deploy collaborative tools. The crisis highlighted the weak points in many information management strategies and forced organizations to recognize their vulnerability. This elevated the importance of effectively managing information assets to a strategic priority, worthy of C-level focus – securely, anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

The COVID crisis forced organizations to rethink how they view remote work, remote workers, and the systems used to support them. According to the Harvard Business Review (“The Pandemic Is Widening a Corporate Productivity Gap”):

“The productivity gap between the best and the rest has widened during the pandemic. We estimate that the best companies – those that were already effective in managing the time, talent, and energy of their teams – have grown 5% to 8% more productive over the last 12 months. Additional work time, access to new star talent, and continued engagement have bolstered productivity at these companies. Most organizations, however, have experienced a net reduction in productivity of 3% to 6% (or more) due to inefficient collaboration, wasteful ways of working, and an overall decline in employee engagement.”

The data highlights four specific information concerns that organizations need to seriously address if they hope to succeed in their journey to becoming truly digital organizations. For each of the concerns raised by the data, AIIM provides two forms of crowd-sourced context to better understand what the data means.

  1. In the “Real-Life Perspectives” section of the report, they include direct quotes from the participants in the survey, designed to punctuate and reinforce the data and to help bring the concern to life.
  2. In the “What Should You Do About It? – Recommendations” section of the report, AIIM focuses on how to address each concern. The recommendations are direct quotes from their CIP Expert Panel.

The results should be a wake-up call to C-level and Information Management executives everywhere:

  1. The C-Suite is failing to align business and technology strategies.
  2. Organizations are losing the battle against information chaos and need to rethink outdated manual approaches to information management.
  3. Organizations need to increase their investment in critical IIM competencies.
  4. Money, focus, and culture – not just technology – are key to true digital transformation.

In summary, the long-term trends driving information chaos – increasing volumes and varieties of information – are accelerating. The pendulum that swung so wildly in the direction of remote working as a result of COVID will certainly swing somewhat in the other direction this year. But it won’t return to where things were before COVID, which means that the pressures for integrated IIM strategies that treat information as a critical asset will remain. And it’s time for organizations to act upon those pressures and capitalize upon the innovations that were made under duress in 2020.

To view the full results of the survey, download the free report here: State of the Intelligent Information Management Industry: A Wake-Up Call for Organization Leaders

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