In conversation with a colleague the other day, we were discussing how awkward it can be to advise a customer on the benefits of investing in a single central Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solution for their enterprise. I don’t mean pimply teenager awkward, but “why are you selling me stuff I don’t need” awkward.
The problem is that most enterprise IT systems come with some level of built-in document or information management capability already. So, when you strike up the conversation about a single central EIM system, it usually goes like this: “my Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) system came with the required document management functions. ERP system? Yup, also came with one out of the box. Mail Exchange handles attachments just fine. Gosh even my team collaboration has proper document management. For the rest, my people use that free cloud document storage thing that syncs to your PC, it’s great and it’s free. Why are you trying to sell me something that I have seven of already?”.
Now if you are thrifty like I was in my twenties, chances are that you have assembled the odd piece of Ikea furniture or two. And if you are even more thrifty, like I am now in my thirties, chances are that you kept all those odd Ikea wrenches, screwdrivers and hex keys that came with the furniture to be assembled.
While you can walk around bragging at your next hoarding or coupon-collection convention with your bag full of odd Ikea tools, the reality is that you don’t have a workshop-worthy tool-set right there. Don’t believe me? Try to fix a lawnmower, like I did, using just Ikea tools.
Anyway, the point is: those tools that came with the piece of furniture are all “good enough” for their single-use intended purpose, but the moment you try to extend their use, they fall short of being useful. Now you might say: “we are not an automobile repair shop”, or even “we are not a digital content creation company” for the sake of this analogy. The reality is, that if you are any medium to large enterprise…you are! Don’t think so? Then you probably don’t worry about the implications of GDPR on your company either, or which Ikea wrench is servicing each of your data-containers that can spring a leak of GDPR-breaching information at any time?
So why would you then buy a professional wrench-set (EIM suite) rather than just using the flimsy wrench that came with the furniture (IT system)? As a start: it will do the same job of that document-management system (DMS) that came with the product, even better. If you say that you don’t need that job being done any better, think about whether that flimsy DMS can follow regulatory document retention or destruction policies or even allow for (let’s say an EHS policy) to be shared with other systems like your Employee Self-Service portal?
The other benefit of this professional wrench-set (EIM suite) is that it is modular. You can start with just the wrench-handle (EIM platform) and just the specific wrench-sockets (modules) that your organisation needs today. As time goes on, you can implement more modules as the need arises and the vendor of the EIM platform will ensure that the platform still supports all the new modules and functionality that you switch on. What about the reverse: Need a bigger wrench-handle for more power? Upgrading the wrench-handle (platform) will still ensure interoperability with all the modules switched on and configured in your organisation.
The list of benefit goes on and on: workflow between systems, single trusted versioning of documents, automated vendor invoice management and automation of the P2P or Logistics functions in your organisation.
The point is, whatever you think you are saving by using the tools that came with any of your IT systems, you may be spending in rework, compliance risk, agility or just being crippled by not having the right tool for the job.
So next time you call an elevator or get in an aeroplane, just hope the previous technician wasn’t as thrifty as I am.