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In today's digital economy, information management professionals and the C-suite can’t afford to become complacent about their information management practices, especially as regulations around data privacy tighten and managing this data becomes increasingly complex.

Information management encompasses how we create, capture, classify, and search for critical information to better support our customers and to make better business decisions. Therefore, any advances in how we manage our information are a boon to the business and, inevitably, to the bottom line.

According to the World Economic Forum, the entire digital universe is expected to hit 44 zettabytes by 2020. To unify all these data sources and to ensure we can use it for a purpose, we must properly store it, manage it, and classify it, so we can easily and quickly retrieve it when needed. But it's no longer just about storing and retrieving information. Today, information management is a key business enabler. The insight we gain from well-managed data (structured and unstructured) promises a faster route to informed decision-making.

"Today, information management is a key business enabler."

To help your business capitalize on this ever-expanding universe of information, here are three trends you should keep an eye on.

1. The Arrival of Automation

Intelligent technologies now offer new ways to automate time-consuming, manual processes, freeing up staff to focus on the more critical tasks of the organization. One of the key drivers for automation is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which can recognize patterns within huge data sets in ways that humans simply can't. This technology provides new ways to search and use data while also leveraging automated workflows to speed up business processes.

However, to truly benefit from AI capabilities, we must feed it an enormous amount of data that's of the highest quality to get the best results. The big challenge here is the availability of data. When data is stored in silos, it's impossible to exploit AI in a meaningful way as part of your larger information management strategy.

In response, we have seen the rise of the content services platform (CSP) with integrated cognitive services. Content analytics that use machine learning and content classification can help to harvest insights from unstructured data, such as providing relevant information about a customer to handle an inquiry more efficiently. Metadata or tagging, along with intelligent data extraction, are areas in which AI can really excel to improve search accuracy and to deliver better relevancy and value of content.

2. Connecting Your Data

Content federation essentially gives the user a single location to access all data across the enterprise. Regardless of where content is created or stored, content federation ensures that all the data, and any of its subsequent insights, is actionable. It does this by not only reading the metadata or content but also by updating it within the original repository where its stored. Content federation can also help with data access and privacy issues, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It allows enterprises to distinguish personal data, erase duplicates, and to delete it upon request.

At a high level, content federation provides an enterprise with a complete view of its information house and associated business processes to ensure you know where data is and what it is doing at any time.

3. Supporting Collaboration

Effective collaboration is paramount in today’s digital business world. Sharing ideas and resources makes an enterprise more agile and dynamic. Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds. The challenge is to find an enterprise collaboration solution that not only integrates external partners and customers but also project partners, development partners, and so on. This content must be safely consolidated, searched, and shared among stakeholders while being tracked and versioned at the same time. On top of that, security and transparency must be guaranteed. This is a tall order.

One way of addressing these complex collaboration requirements is through virtual project and data rooms. In these shared virtual spaces, users can create, organize, and work on documents, tasks, and processes. Everyone in the group can access the same data pool, and external parties can be invited and integrated into the collaboration process securely, without risking compliance and governance.

Virtual rooms also provide project continuity, allowing for historical information (such as discussion threads) to be retrieved if a person leaves the project or enterprise. This helps to prevent unnecessary project delays, such as searching for back-dated documentation. This kind of virtual collaboration enables enterprises to develop and maintain consistency in their work processes, both internally and externally.

Information Management Is the Cornerstone of a Digital Future

Data is one of the most valuable assets of an enterprise. Knowing how to use it is imperative to gaining a competitive edge. Information management practitioners have the power to align and link data across the enterprise, empowering people and processes.

Information management, driven by intelligent automation, will become a critical part of data strategies, as the amount of data flowing into the enterprise continues to grow at an exponential rate.

Morad Rhlid is the Managing Director of the SER Group, the largest ECM vendor in Europe. Rhlid is an ardent believer in the power of ECM and has been successfully convincing IT managers from diverse international markets of this for over 20 years now. For more information, vist or follow SER Group on Twitter @sergroup.