Move from EDM to Intelligent Information Management | 5 minute read
We’ve come a long way from traditional document management, as indicated by the history of name changes at AIIM. AIIM was founded in 1943 as the National Microfilm Association. As microfilm fell into disuse and computers became commonplace in offices, document scanning and digital archiving became the technology of choice for preserving documents. Reflecting this change, in 1982, the National Microfilm Association changed its name to the Association for Information and Image Management, or "AIIM" for short. This name change demonstrated a broadening of focus for the association. Then, in 2018, reflecting yet again evolving technologies and further broadening of AIIM’s mandate, AIIM became the "Association for Intelligent Information Management," maintaining the acronym.
What exactly is Intelligent Information Management (IIM) and how does it differ from traditional EDM (Electronic Document Management) or the more recent iteration ECM (Electronic Content Management)?” Even more importantly, how does IIM affect the way your organization conducts business and competes in the global marketplace?
Information – The Driving Force
Having access to the right information at the right time is essential to the success of any organization. In today’s digital universe, managing the glut of incoming information requires more than a traditional Electronic Document Management (EDM) system. Unfortunately, even as information assets are becoming more important, organizations’ ability to manage them has eroded due to the shear volume, variety, complexity and speed of information arriving daily.
IIM (Intelligent Information Management) is a statement of the need to push Document Management beyond its original purview. IIM is about harvesting and managing data from both structured and unstructured content while automating processes. Artificial Intelligence (IA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be used with both data and content to streamline operations.
Employees will not be managing content and data so much as they will be managing the “Bots” that perform the routine tasks.
This means that today’s organization must push information beyond the “storage, control and access” of older Information Management Systems and leverage these new technologies if they are to stay relevant to their customers and their employees.
Intuitive Platforms Support the Change
Cloud technology and robust security are the starting places for any IIM system.
Mobile accessibility is a must! A recent U.S. Census Bureau survey indicates that two-thirds of Internet traffic is via a mobile device. This means that if you have customer-facing forms, data access, or other client interactions, you must have an information management platform that handles well on a small-screen mobile device. An increasingly remote workforce as well as frequent travel means that your employees (and your organization) benefit from mobile accessibility and 24/7 access as well.
Shift from ECM to Intelligent Processes
Probably the most profound change is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to take over routine tasks. This new-school document management adds intelligence to the capture, search, access and data parsing as well as interaction with other business-related platforms, from accounting software to office, sales and service platforms.
- Artificial Intelligence AI refers to the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
AI algorithms are not natively “intelligent.” They learn inductively by analyzing data. AI applicable nearly everywhere. Customer-facing activities including marketing automation, support and service, in addition to IT and supply chain management are ripe for AI. But, back-office activities such as invoice processing, auditing, data migration, compliance and others benefit in efficiency, error reduction and cost-savings. For most companies that have data, AI applications are endless
- Robotic Process Automation enables any work process that is definable, repeatable, and rules-based to be mapped out and assigned a software robot or “Bot” to manage the execution of that process, just as a human would. RPA is separate and distinct form an organization’s IT structure. It is not another business application. Rather it is a substitute for a human worker to operate business applications. Does that mean RPA replaces employees?
Wholesale replacement of human workers in the office is highly unlikely. But, RPA will change the way humans perform their jobs. As less human intervention is required for rules-based jobs (those jobs that are often considered repetitive and boring) there will most certainly be some job reallocation. But, RPA is much more likely to replace specific tasks than an employee’s actual position.
Ideal processes for RPA automation are rules-based and repetitive tasks, such as, accounts payable, billing and order processing. Despite the impact RPA can have on these processes, many tasks still require humans to complete them. Today’s software Robots are not capable of automating uniquely human tasks such as problem solving, creativity, and human interaction.
RPA doesn’t function on its own. Humans determine which business processes are suitable for automation. Humans monitor the performance of the robots. And humans intervene when tasks need to be changed. The technology is not yet able to operate without human intervention.
- Workflow Automation has been around for a while, but it must also be considered in any IIM system. Not every task can be accomplished by AI or RPA. By taking a workflow approach to business processes and pairing the workflow with software tools designed to speed and manage the flow, organizations ensure compliance and reporting, while enforcing consistent handling of work that needs a “human touch.”
Every company has a unique workflow – including procedures, organizations, departments and people that are required to input data, compile, route, analyze and output information. Making sure that the data or documents needed by an individual are where they need to be, when they need to be there is part of workflow automation.
For example, using workflow automation, an insurance company handles claims consistently from first call to final settlement; a finance company handles a loan application from an on-line application through to final approval or denial of the loan; a medical office handles patient forms from intake through diagnosis and discharge. A workflow automation process duplicates and paper process, email or other manual process digitally.
Stop Un-Intelligent Information Management
When considering Intelligent Information Management, it’s good for organizations to look at un-intelligent ways they’re managing information currently. Here are some examples:
- Sending documents (or PDFs) as attachments in emails instead of a secure link to its location.
- Managing content collaboration version control in file names, like Rev1 and Rev2, instead of automatic version control with check-in, check-out features.
- Requiring manual signatures, when electronic signatures are easy and accepted.
- Tasking IT with complex programming requirements when there are plenty of “Low Code/No Code apps to do what you need, as well as user-friendly automation features with IIM platforms.
In the early days of traditional EDM, the focus on was converting paper via imaging (scanning) to capture electronic files, then using Document Management software to store, access and share the documents. Today, the idea is to ensure that paper never originates in the first place. This requires much more than just creating digital files. It also requires stopping incoming paper.
From mailroom digitization and automation to online forms for customer interaction, Intelligent Information Management requires forethought, planning and a willingness to embrace organizational change.
While change doesn’t have to occur all at once, creating a plan and a time-table for implementing change is necessary.
Intelligent Information Management is about smarter performance, cost savings and efficiency. Keep this in mind as you determine which departments and processes will benefit most quickly from the implementation of these ideas. Where will you achieve the fastest ROI?
The answer to this question will vary from organization to organization, depending upon the organizational mission. But, one thing upon which nearly all experts agree is that failure to act will result in an organization that is increasingly irrelevant in a data-driven digital world.