ECM Challenges

The Real Challenge of Information Management & Automation

Last week I was involved in two interesting external free-form discussions. The first was an internal all-team get-together for a vendor-client in the US. The second was a recorded podcast for our media partners, ReWorked. I was asked many unexpected questions and was left thinking about three key themes that organically emerged and that are increasingly relevant for our industry. 

1: The Human Touch

For all of our talk about automation and AI, everything ultimately comes back to humans, people, us, whether that be the critical importance of Humans in the Loop (HITL) or the inherent human bias contained in training data. For AI to be effective in the enterprise, the linchpins to success are humans, not algorithms. Similarly, in the world of process and task automation, too little time spent appraising humans at work through business analysis will lead to failure. 

2: How Much Information Do You Need?

In a world of big data and enterprises in possession of literally tens of billions of files to manage, we do need to start to ask: how much information do we need? In the world of big data (and AI), there is still a strong belief that we can solve every problem with enough data; that somewhere within this mass of data there is a jewel to be uncovered. Both common sense and experience tell us this is a fallacy. There may well be jewels hidden away, but the cost of extracting them is typically greater than their value. The lure of cheap storage has engendered a hoarder mentality in the tech community. Watch an episode of Hoarders and tell me you can’t see and feel an uncomfortable synergy. 

3: The Rate of Industry Change

Deep Analysis focuses its research on innovation in the Enterprise Information and Automation world. We uncover and champion innovators through our yearly Innovation Index awards and get excited when we spot something new. But we are painfully aware of the real-world reality of information and automation software in practice. In short, it doesn’t look much different today than it did twenty years ago. Despite the fast rate of change in the world of social media, with ever-improving customer experiences and apps galore, the fact is that our industry is progressing very slowly. My colleagues were rewatching Steve Jobs’s iconic 2007 announcement of the iPhone. So much has changed since then. So many things that seemed incredible are commonplace today. Not so much in our world.

To be clear, I am not claiming ‘Woe is Us”; instead, I am highlighting the disconnect between what we have and what we do. Ultimately we are all on the same page, key actors in an often overlooked but critical sector. Information management and automation in one form or another play a role in almost every aspect of life. Expectations by customers, bosses, and staff alike are unrealistic. We have advanced technologies that can help, but without recognizing the challenges we face, they can’t do anything; instead, they can worsen bad situations.

At Deep Analysis, that is why we balance the unrelenting positivity and optimism of technology vendors with confidential conversations with enterprises trying to make a positive change in a typically very challenging environment. Every technology vendor and enterprise that recognizes that humans are the essential ingredient rather than the technology itself, that more data or information is not always better, and that unraveling decades of technology and culture takes time and often a brave leap of faith will be agents of positive change. They will leave behind the hoarders, the tech-obsessed, and the unrealistic in their wake. A bit late, but here’s to 2022, a year of positive change!

* Number two on this list came to life for me while listening to the Sunday sermon this week at St. Mark’s in Philadelphia, where the Reverend Sean Mullen spent his time very eloquently lambasting Google and our addiction to creating and trawling vast swathes of information. 🙂

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