Is ECM a Green Technology?

Going green is getting easier as technology develops.  The “paperless office” utopia is still being developed but the amount of paper can be, and is being dramatically reduced due to document imaging and content management solutions.  It is a fairly straightforward concept – if a business process begins with physical paper, why not scan it, index it, and store it where multiple people can access, it is secure, traceable and auditable, and it adheres to your corporate records policy?  This concept does not only save your organization money, but it does reduce the environmental impact of doing business.

It is easy to see the savings in industries such as Health Care and Financial Services.  In Health Care the green factor and carbon footprint reduction relates to the courier cost, fax cost, copying cost of duplicating patient records and insurance correspondence.  This is a huge magnitude when you consider the general health of the population.   Financial Services green footprint is also correlated with courier and copying but also in the workflow process to route documents.

There is great information published on this topic at various sites such as AIIM , and also at AIIM.  There is also interesting case examples at  New and Good in ECM.

Distributed scanning  can also have a directly positive impact on a green initiative.  Capturing documents and data at the point of creation or receipt will save on shipping and courier services which also impacts the environment by reducing the oil consumption in transportation.

The digitizing of documents greatly reduces off-site storage costs which also has a direct effect on oil consumption used in the transportation to and from the storage facilities.

Much of the transition from paper to electronic comes with the paradigm shift from physically handling paper to viewing documents and data and routing them from the computer.  This takes time and facilitates true change management disciplines but the amount of money, efficiencies, and resources saved can be tremendous.  To be successful, you need to plan for the initial pushback from the knowledge workers.  In the beginning, they might even print more than what they were before the implementation.  If change is managed correctly, the users will adopt and embrace the efficiencies.

The going green concept is growing and is a focal point of the upcoming Nexus ECM Conference held on Nov 2-3 in Bellevue, WA.  Take a look at the Nexus Agenda for some of the “green” sessions.

Comments and feedback welcome.

Jeff Blissett
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.
www.imagesourceinc.com

Build vs. Buy

Over the course of my last 12 years in the Enterprise Content Management space, I have seen many progressions and changes.  When the industry was in its infancy stages, we relied on specialized PCI cards to drive the scanners at rated speeds, high resolution graphics cards to display clear images on a monitor, and every system installation needed holy water sprinkled on it to ensure that there weren’t any compatibility issues or conflicts with the operating system.  There were hundreds of software vendors that claimed to be the premier document imaging / document management / scanning / (whatever new term that AIIM came out with) system.  Systems were sold, installed, and many failed.  We have seen progressions where the hundreds of vendors have consolidated to a few leaders that are recognized as true ECM platforms.  We have seen Microsoft enter the market with SharePoint which has driven the need for a new wave of products and services to bridge the gaps in its functionality.  Along with these progressions and changes with the vendors, we have also seen how internal IT departments look at ECM.

In the beginning, there was many components, many moving parts, and technology that the IT staff wasn’t readily familiar with.  As the first and second generation systems were installed, the product sets matured where the IT staff technology professionals could be trained in a platform that was sustainable.  As this progressed software vendors could switch their focus from making the systems work in a rudimentary sense, and switch the focus to the development of features and functionality that led credence to aspects such as compliance, accountability, governance, and security.  The successful Tier 1 vendors (see Gartner report for leaders) now have scalable products that address all aspects of ECM – document imaging / document management / web content management / forms management / records management / workflow – Business Process Management.  With this, training is now readily available to equip any IT staff with the tools and resources to maintain and build upon systems where compliance, accountability, governance, and security are all part of the core.  Knowledge and education are now key determinants for success.

With this knowledge and education comes empowerment to the IT staff.  In the industry today, I am seeing an increasing number of corporate IT staffs choosing to forego their existing systems and internally build components that allow them to store, retrieve, maintain, and manage scanned images and data.   I understand that there are many talented programmers and systems architects in the workplace that are capable of building database management functionality and that can build user interfaces that allow for searching file structures.  What I don’t totally understand is the value to organizations when a top resource is consumed in developing a product / system and maintaining and supporting the product / system.  It has taken Oracle Stellent, IBM FileNET, EMC Documentum, OpenText (to name a few) each over 15 years to come up with a product offering that is stable and that meets 85% of most organization needs without customization.  Why reinvent the wheel when there are cost effective, proven solutions that can automate business processes that will show efficiencies and pay for themselves over time?  There are many technology focused companies that have invested multi-millions of dollars, and many years  in developing methodology and products.   I don’t know how an organization that is focused on their specific expertise – retail, manufacturing, healthcare, banking, can morph into a software development / systems delivery organization.

Build vs. Buy – no correct answer, but definitely worth discussing.

Feedback welcome.

Jeff Blissett
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.
www.imagesourceinc.com

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$350M in Local Government Swine Flu Preparedness Grants

The Department of Health and Human Services officials announced last week that they will commit sizable resources to help state and local governments, families and healthcare organizations prepare for the fall flu season in light of the ongoing H1N1 flu outbreak.

Some of the grant funds will be used toward systems and functions that will help improve how state hospitals and public health departments are able to investigate and track information.

Implementing the right tools can help in gaining immediate access to data and distribution of facts.

Now, with ILINX Capture a simple click of a button can capture any type of critical information about H1N1 at any desktop–from paper electronic documents, from email to faxes–and deliver it where ever you need it to go.

And when we say simple, we really mean it. A web-based capture application, ILINX Capture is simple to administer.

Kimberly Torres
Marketing Coordinator
ImageSource, Inc.