There’s an old joke about a beat cop who comes across a drunk man under a streetlight searching for something on the ground. The officer asks the man what he’s doing, and the man looks up and says, “I’ve lost my keys.” They both search for a while, until the officer asks, “Are you sure you lost them here?” “No, I lost them in the park,” the man explains, “but the light’s better over here.”
I tell that joke to illustrate a problem that affects almost every business. The issue is that businesses often don’t know how to find important information in their existing content libraries. Even worse, when they do look for it, the often only look in obvious places or use the easiest approach. That might help you search your document collections or databases for a short time, but when the easy approach doesn’t deliver hard data, it’s time to look deeper.
Searching across multiple Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems is increasingly vital for organizations of all sizes. ECM investment is growing at a compound rate of 18.7%, with total investment of $66.27 Billion by 2021. That does not count the incumbent sunk cost in existing older document storage and management systems.
For companies that may have a wealth of information and talent but have difficulty accessing it, here is how we suggest you can improve your efforts:
Is Your Query Even Getting Through?
When you go looking for an answer or piece of information in your document management systems, do you get contradictory or wrong answers? The problem may be that you need more context and a better understanding of what you have. Though data repositories may share common networks, they rarely share common search capabilities or syntax.
For example, repositories that offer keyword search may not support Boolean queries (using “AND,” “OR” and “NOT”) or other search techniques. Searching databases often demands specialized query languages or user privileges. Moreover, different tools extract text and index such extractions in quite different ways, with the upshot being that a document found on one system will not be found on another using the same query.
Before thinking about deploying advanced document management systems or AI software, companies should focus on extracting metadata with advanced capture so it can be managed in a centralized repository. Doing this important work up front will reduce errors and make document retrieval faster in the long run.
To Find the Answer, You Must… Find the Answer
Yes, that is circular logic.
But with modern database technology, including machine learning software, finding one answer can unlock untapped volumes of data and information you didn’t know existed. Many search tools today make allowances for synonyms and so-called fuzzy logic that finds matches on related bases of the word. In more advanced systems it is not the word, but the intent that is key. Users no longer just search for keywords; they query — often in full sentences. The background application deconstructs the query, based on intensive training and refinement, to determine the user’s intent and find results that match it.
Searching needs to be an iterative process, with a feedback loop between your human researchers and the search tools you use. Provide feedback loops so that the computers learn from your staff what is a successful search and what is noise.
Sweat the Details
Sweating the details is good advice in most endeavors, but in this we mean something very specific- sweat the metadata.
The first stage in deploying or upgrading a content management system is to digitize processes and electronic forms to improve accessibility. However, the second step is arguably the most important — extracting metadata with advanced capture to be managed in a centralized repository. This can come from paper-based data entry or digital sources. Accurate metadata extraction and creation can reduce data entry errors and make your entire document management system more effective and powerful.
Act on What You Learn
It’s one thing to find answers in your content libraries, it’s a whole other thing to make use of those answers. Your goal should be to drive innovation by leveraging analytics to align processes with business goals.
The processes involved in handling various documentation varies with each piece of information. Companies can no longer afford to manually manage the distribution of incoming documents, making sure they don’t get held up on someone’s desk, and then finally act on the information. Not only is it very labor-intensive, it’s slow and prone to costly errors.
ECM technology can automate the processes for various documents based on specific rules and workflows, helping items move faster and without human intervention. Many documents go through the same or similar approval workflows each month and can be automatically approved without any human intervention based on specific rules. As you learn more about your content and information hidden in datasets, find ways to automate and make use of that learning.
Check out the free guide below to learn more about ECM technology. And if you’re ready to start digging out from underneath that pile of data and documentation you’ve accumulated, contact the ECM experts at the Gordon Flesch Company for a complimentary assessment of your business environment.