Info Ireland 2003 preview

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1 April 2005 | 0

‘Information management’ tends to be a catch-all term that encompasses the areas of document and records management, workflow processes, information security, data storage, digital content and e-government, to name but a few.

Such a broad ranging scope means that it can be hard to prioritise the more important issues. This is where Info Ireland 2003 can help. Organised annually by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) since 1998, the event promises to address the most relevant issues in information management today.

Some of these issues have been highlighted in a new research study conducted in association with sponsors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and timed to coincide with Info Ireland 2003. The project, which included a sizeable Irish sample as part of a larger scale survey spanning the whole of the UK, finds that information management is already quite a mature market. The Irish findings broadly reflect those of England, Wales and Scotland.

 

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Preliminary results show that just over half of Irish respondents are now tackling second or third generation projects. In fact, just 21 per cent are tackling first projects (proportionally, the largest group of first time users is located within the public sector). This is a significant shift from last year, says the AIIM.

In terms of budgets for IM projects in Ireland for 2003, 63 per cent of organisations suggested a likely spend in excess of EUR80k and 32 per cent of organisations suggested a spend in excess of EUR800k. This compares with 58 per cent and 19 per cent respectively in 2002.

Although there was a slight reduction in sample size for 2003, this nevertheless suggests that budgets are increasing in some organisations, according to AIIM. This may map onto the maturing market trend — as organisations have migrated onto second and third generation projects, they are beginning to see a return on the established projects and are now prepared to invest further. This shift is also mirroring the emerging trend in the UK survey.

The traditional areas of document control and records management are still registering high levels of project interest, according to the survey, particularly in the government and healthcare sectors.

Email management has become a more significant priority with 47 per cent of respondents citing this as a current project interest. In addition, over 40 per cent said they viewed email management as very important in the context of information security.

Business continuity and risk management has also become a key focus for organisations, with over a third of respondents pushing this up their agenda to the point where the area ranks in the top eight project interests. Much of the renewed focus can be attributed to highly publicised corporate failures, an increasingly litigious and regulatory environment and the need to tighten up overall efficiency.

In terms of the single most important drivers of information management-related projects, 40 per cent of respondents said that improving efficiency was their biggest driver. Improving customer service was cited by another 15 per cent, while a further 15 per cent put down the need to satisfy statutory and regulatory compliance issues as their main driving factor.

In respect of areas that present the most difficult challenges in information management projects, implementation and change management topped the polled with 29 per cent, up from 26 per cent in 2002. Being able to justify investment and securing board commitment ranked as the second greatest challenge, but rose only slightly from 18 per cent in 2002 to 19 per cent in 2003.

According to AIIM, this is a trend confined more to the private sector with respondents from government and public administration stating that ‘understanding the requirement’ remains their greatest challenge.

Sarah Drew, event and publications editor, AIIM Europe, says change management is one of those areas where ‘common sense’ needs to come to the fore, as opposed to investing time and money on new technologies. ‘There’s been too much focus on getting things online, on the front end,’ she said. This has been at the expense of ensuring that the back-end administrative operations are working properly and delivering services that customers want. ‘It should be about choice and quality.’

Overall, however, the AIIM/PwC research suggests that the major challenge is not to do with the technologies, products or suppliers but in genuinely understanding business processes within the organisation, and knowing how to implement a robust and reliable solution.

Risk management is one of the areas that will come under the spotlight in Info Ireland 2003. According to Ciaran Kelly, senior manager of business technology services at PwC, there is an increasing awareness of risk, particularly in big organisations. ‘Lots of large organisations are now trying to identify areas within their organisations that present the most significant risk. Information risk is emerging as one the biggest of them.’

A PwC study from November 2002 that ranked the top ten risks to public and private sector organisations put operational risk as the third biggest risk, after credit risk and market risk. As information is such a vital part of any business, information management plays a huge role in dealing with operational risk.

‘There are a lot of regulatory developments happening globally that will force companies to keep information private but also protect the integrity of information,’ said Kelly. A good example is the Data Protection Act, which lays down rules on keeping data secure. The establishment of regulators for specific industries is another manifestation of a changing regulatory environment.

It is one thing to protect information, but another to enable easier access to the right information. The growing popularity of electronic transactions, such as with the Revenue Online Service for filing tax returns, means that organisations have to ensure the back-end processes guarantee the legality and integrity of electronic documents, said Kelly. ‘Its striking a balance between the security of inclusion versus the insecurity of exclusion,’ he said.

This year, Info Ireland will be aiming to address the ongoing need for market education in the areas of change management, risk management, email management, as well as information security.

Among the speakers addressing the conference, held for the fifth year at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin on September 17th and 18th, will be representatives from PwC, Cimtech (Centre for Information Management Technology), and analysts Strategy Partners International. There will also be speakers from a number of public and private sector organisations North and South with first hand experience of rolling out implementations.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland will be running Best Practice roundtable discussion sessions in a number of areas including information security, records management, data protection and freedom of information. There will also be extended workshop sessions each afternoon focusing on key issues such as ‘Building a Business Case’ and ‘Managing Information to Minimise Business Risk’, and approaching them in a practical way.

As well as Info Ireland, AIIM Europe will also bring IMUniversity to Dublin for the first time. IMUniversity is a series of information management training programmes for professionals. Between September 16th and 19th it will deliver two courses in records management and document management, also at the Burlington Hotel.

08/08/2003

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