The 21st century information explosion is a severe challenge for businesses and organisations of all sizes, to the extent that logistical and IT management of the flow of information has become an industry in its own right.
Support for the industry is offered by the international Enterprise Content Management Association (AIIM), which is active worldwide in promoting professional standards of enterprise content management (ECM). In particular, AIIM offers specialist training programmes that provide a global benchmark for expertise in ECM.
On a recent visit to South Africa at the invitation of ECM solutions company, NokusaEI, AIIM ambassador and former director for Global Education Services at AIIM International, Hanns Köhler-Krüner, said that today users create information much faster than they can control it, especially with the infiltration of social media into communications.
Without the right filters for information, business information tends to get mixed with social and personal communications.
Köhler-Krüner says that while users can access information at the touch of a button, if that information is not strategically organised the result can be a minefield of inefficiencies and vulnerability, especially in terms of security and data loss.
The risks of not implementing an ECM system are that information can become overwhelming, audit processes cannot be completed, compliance cannot be tracked and measurement is difficult when there is not a complete information chain in place. Loss can occur across all levels of the business.
The answer is to implement best practice content management strategies to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content efficiently according to clearly defined objectives. Fortunately, technology provides users with the tools to manage documents, records and images, manage workflow processes and implement Web content management and collaboration.
However, warned Köhler-Krüner, the application and implementation of such tools usually requires a level of skill and professional capacity that is not easily learned on the job or through trial and error. This is why AIIM has developed its internationally accredited training programmes that allow content management practitioners to attain certified levels of proficiency in the field.
The benefits for all organisations, large and small, of implementing professional enterprise content management are manifold. Hard benefits include improved efficiencies in processes and workflow, improved communication channels and the mitigation of risk.
Added value is realised by not having to reinvent the wheel and by being able to deliver enriched content or being able to use content more efficiently. There are also significant soft benefits such as job satisfaction, control, accountability and transparency.
Köhler-Krüner pointed out that, where ECM systems are implemented, organisations can react rapidly to change, find out new information more quickly, be more responsive to issues and make correct management decisions based on current information. To this end, one of the focal points of the AIIM methodology is on developing a “single source of truth” in an organisation.
“Certification is the route to developing specialist skills in information management,” says Köhler-Krüner. Through its training programmes, AIIM introduces a common understanding of the problems that all practitioners can relate to regardless of their level of technical maturity.
In this sense, AIIM training is product agnostic which means that AIIM trainees learn how to apply ECM principles in their own work environment. AIIM certified practitioners are required to do the thinking and theorising needed to imbue the principles and frameworks of international best practice.
AIIM has trained 20 000 people over the past six years, and AIIM certification is a fast-growing prerequisite in Europe. Formal ECM learning is also an emerging differentiator in South Africa, especially with the influence of international organisations.
In South Africa, AIIM certification is exclusively offered by NokusaEI. According to Köhler-Krüner, NokusaEI has consistently been one of AIIM’s top training partners worldwide in terms of proficient delivery and quality trainers since they began their partnership in 2006.