The Business-Technology Weave

Nov 28 2012   2:09PM GMT

Content: Absent CMS, structured data is “Unstructured” relative to the enterprise

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

Within the emerging necessities for leverage of content, and management of liability, we have to recognize something else.  Absent a comprehensive Content Management System (CMS), not only is unstructured data outside of a central control; even structured data, such as records in databases, and e-mail within systems, is not within a central control.  The records are not leveraged across and with the full enterprise of information.  This is because structured data is only actionable within its own native application; database records within the database application, and e-mail records within the e-mail system, as but two examples. 

Any of your other disparate systems of “managed” data, such as the accounting system, core-business management systems, claims systems, HR systems, and so on, suffer the segregation from other systems’ data and content.  This segregation of data is normally an asset: it is necessary for data and system integrity.  But from the content management perspective, it’s a liability.  Therefore, absent a true CMS, structured data has no “central” control when viewed in the totality of the organization’s enterprise-wide content – much of which is ancillary and extremely important in the context of certain necessary views.  This ancillary content can be other structured content, silo’d in its own application’s control, or it can be relevant unstructured data.

For example, records within core business applications, such as customer or member records, are only searchable, retrievable and reportable through those native applications.  That is, each customer record exists within the control of an application system, and can contribute to report information when combined with data from other customer records, from within that same application. 

Suppose you wanted all the information, as of a certain date, that your organization harbors for a client – EFG Corporation.  Perhaps upcoming litigation is driving your concern.  You want all statuses regarding EFG from your main client business application; all relevant e-mails from respective employees and client contacts; all policies referencing EFG; all letters and correspondence; and location of all hardcopy reports and products regarding EFG.   Without an independent system that manages your content – all content – you cannot automate a comprehensive, enterprise-wide search of electronic content by criteria.  Too, without the electronic cataloging of hardcopy, you cannot query content’s physical location in support of the current need.

Assembling a comprehensive report in this regard would involve searching for data within many controlling systems, manual assembly of some data, and some kind of tedious collation from the many disassociated parts.  Here, your best option is to produce reports from the disparate systems, and then tediously assemble and format information.

And – you’d have no real way of knowing if you had captured all relevant content.  So, in the context of “full asset leverage and liability management”, even structured data is “unstructured”.  If you are interested in, and need, true content management, then you must structure all of your data for dictate by an overarching system in order to achieve ready action and oversight. 

Business users today need a means by which they can approve and review content during its creation and use, regardless of format, regardless of its location.  They must be able to search for and quickly find content.  They must access the most current versions of various content.  They need to be able to repurpose and share content (as opposed to “reinventing the wheel”).  They must have confidence that when seeking content, they are finding all relevant, authorized content.  And, they must identify and dispose of content at the end of its useful life.

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