IBM exec explores content management in a digital world

A solid enterprise CM (content management) strategy that transforms business information into useful digital assets can offer competitive advantages through improved efficiency, productivity, and higher profits, according to an IBM Corp. executive speaking here at ContentWorld Conference and Expo.

Corporations today are suffocating under a vast and growing tide of information that includes paper and electronic data such as invoices, databases, e-mails, audio, video, and spreadsheets, according to Brett MacIntyre, vice president of content management at IBM.

The rise of e-business and its integral role in enterprises has created a need for a seamless flow of this information out to customers and back into the enterprise, he said. But the lack of integrated CM has led to disconnected systems and has restricted the information flow between systems and people.

"Information can help manage a business but it is costly to acquire and maintain," MacIntyre said. "The challenge is how do you use information to manage the supply chain, improve customer support, and boost revenue?"

Enterprises must recognize business data as a valuable asset that needs to integrated and reused across different systems, according to MacIntyre. "Enterprise content management gives business a return on information and investment. The value of information is the ability to use it," he said.

To bring silos of information together, MacIntyre said enterprises should digitize critical business information including invoices, video, customer records, and business processes.

"Digitizing information means lower operational costs, reduced storage space, and increased response time," MacIntyre said.

MacIntyre highlighted CNN's use of IBM's Content Manager to create a digital library of 21 years of news content. The initiative to transform VHS tape to digital format now allows CNN to locate archived images in seconds, he said.

"Before, CNN had to go through a time-consuming search of video reels to find archived images," MacIntyre said. With the online system, a worker needs only to type in a subject and the CM system can bring up any video containing the item," MacIntyre said.

When embarking on an enterprise CM effort, it is vital that companies use open standards in order to protect investments and add new capabilities as the technology evolves, according to MacIntyre.

Standards include J2EE at a higher architectural level as well as emerging content and digital rights-specific standards, MacIntyre said. Moreover, enterprises must integrate all systems in order to achieve end-to-end processes across the organization, he said.

Integrated systems allow you to link to silos of information by collecting data once and then reusing it across different applications, MacIntyre said.

MacIntyre also pointed out the security and cost control benefits of centralized access and administration for CM. "A centrally administered system provides lower costs, stronger security, and different levels of service," he said.

However, centralized access does not mean replacing existing systems with a single content repository, MacIntyre said. "There will be multiple repositories with an integrated layer that will access different repositories," he said.

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