What Happens When We Fail to Govern Content?


In my last posting I discussed the need for Trusted Information. Continuing in that theme … I am going to focus on the need for trust and governance in Enterprise Content Management (ECM).  Industry estimates claim that 80-85% of an organization’s stored information typically is unstructured data (or content).  I’ve always thought of this in simple terms.  Data tells me the who, what, where and when.  Content tells me the how and why. Together they represent the full business context of information.

As an ECM guy, I tend to think about Content first and I recently spent time thinking about what happens when we don’t have trust or governance in ECM.

When content is stored in the wrong place …

A large design firm needs to access legacy design documents that could be: forgotten on file shares, reside in abandoned team rooms, are needed after employees leave, lost in the shuffle of mergers and acquisitions, or are inadvertently deleted during storage clean-up, despite legal and regulatory requirements to control and retain.  This creates information risk and requires tedious re-creation across teams before design development can continue, among other challenges.

When the wrong content is considered trustworthy and is consumed …

A large distributor has multiple versions of contracts and supplier agreements that are disorganized and the business fails to use a contract addendum that materially changes the terms and conditions.  This may result in customer and partner dissatisfaction, causing disputes and costly litigation, disruption of key deliveries, a flurry of customer complaints, stopped “in process” orders and lower sales, among other challenges.

When content is not governed over its lifetime …

Maintenance records on an interstate pipeline are destroyed or misplaced and are not available to investigators after an accident.  This forces government regulators to suspend operations causing production, delays at refineries, higher costs to consumers and potential shortages to vital industries, among other challenges.

A large chemical manufacturer fails to destroy content and records in accordance with their corporate retention policy and are now burdened with the high cost of managing storage and eDiscovery with no visibility into what to destroy and when.  This requires them to continually manage and review information they shouldn’t even have, causing higher storage and other operational costs and more legal risk, among other potential challenges.

What scenarios come to mind for you when we fail to govern our information properly?

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