Key to success in a data-driven world is transforming data into actionable insights. But first, you need to have all your data under control – enterprise content management (ECM) is the perfect solution.
With the acceleration of digital transformation, we are seeing how a rise in the volume and variety of information is posing one major headache for organizations: unstructured data. According to predictions from IDC, 80% of worldwide data will be unstructured by 2025. However, in the case of many large enterprises, colossal quantities of data have already been reached. And if unstructured data is growing at 55-65% each year, as reported by Forbes, then managing it is only going to get more difficult for organisations across all sizes and industries.
Poor data management has the potential to negatively impact your organisation, from business operations and delivery to customer service. What’s more, when data is left scattered in unsecure locations, productivity levels plummet and the security of your business is put at risk. Therefore, it is vital for businesses to find ways to manage and analyse their data to avoid breaches, but also so that they can act on it to make important business decisions.
So, what’s the solution? Enterprise content management. And as the name suggests, it is a powerful digital tool that can help your organisation get on top of its data. But before we dive into how ECM handles unstructured data; it is necessary to understand what unstructured data is.
Analysts at Gartner estimate the 80% or more of enterprise data is unstructured. The simplest way to define unstructured data is that it does not have an established method of organisation, usually meaning it is difficult to gather, store and organise in typical databases such as Microsoft Access or SQL. As unstructured data cannot be displayed in rows, columns and relational databases, it cannot be analysed using traditional tools. For these reasons, it requires more storage space, and it is more difficult to manage and protect.
Unstructured data can be found in the form of emails, audio, video, social media posts, text files and spreadsheets. Documents saved randomly in one general folder or scanned documents such as client information stored on a desktop are just two common forms of unstructured data that can be found in offices across the world.
What makes enterprise content management essential to effective management of unstructured data is that it gets to the heart of problems such as the access, searchability and security of unstructured data.
The problem with unstructured data is that it is usually dispersed across different places such as emails, personal drives, and company networks. Optimal Systems, meanwhile, argues that sticking with an old archiving system “limits the company’s ability to innovate. With serious ramifications: Because of the risk of incompatibility with other applications, modernisation of the entire system landscape is becoming increasingly delayed.”
Very often, professionals are forced to recreate documents that are nowhere to be found on the company network – this is not only wasted time, but also a lot of unnecessary work for employees. In short, data chaos can occur in the blink of an eye if businesses don’t implement an effective document and information strategy. For this reason, ECM is an incredibly useful tool because it helps organisations to gather both structured and unstructured data and store them in one centralised digital repository.
Furthermore, advanced enterprise content management systems such as Kyocera Enterprise Information Manager (KEIM) make document retrieval even faster due to its Google-like search capabilities. This ECM software also has a sophisticated security framework that incorporates encryption and administrator roles that control who can access certain files. When you know exactly where all your unstructured data is located and its neatly organised, it’s much easier to protect it from hackers.
With the rise of remote and hybrid work, we have seen a shift away from handling physical documents on a day-to-day basis at the workplace. As a result, storing digital documents on the cloud has become a very popular option for many businesses. In fact, a report conducted by McAfee found that 80% of the surveyed employees want their employers to make documents available via cloud services. Cloud-based ECM solutions such as the Kyocera Cloud Information Manager (KCIM) offer businesses an affordable, scalable and secure platform for their documents to be stored on.
When all your unstructured data is managed in an ECM solution, it becomes easy for employees to share files and collaborate on documents from anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working from home on your desktop computer and your colleague is in the office – you both receive quick access to all the information you need. There is no need for email exchanges, printing or searching through your office filing cabinet: all your data is just a click away. Furthermore, ECM allows you to work on one document with other colleagues in real-time and always ensures that you are working on the latest version.
Since most data generated today is unstructured data, it is essential for businesses to find ways to manage it. Enterprise content management has proven to be the most effective way of storing, handling and keeping data safe, helping businesses to increase productivity and prosper in competitive environments.