A strategic resource

Enterprise information management is not a technology in itself. Rather, that whole focus on ‘ensuring on-demand delivery of the right information’ is supported by an array of related and increasingly integrated technologies that have matured over the years in relatively discrete segments.

Analysts point to the classic business intelligence areas of query, analysis and reporting tools, and the databases systems and data warehousing technologies that sit underneath them; the enterprise content management systems that serve up digital documents; the data integration products that unify disparate sources of information; the data quality tools that weed out distorting information; and, more recently, the search tools, classification mechanisms and metadata management tools that enhance access to freeform information.

At this stage, the only real way to track demand for information management environments is to gauge what is being spent on those essential building blocks.

By far the largest of these is business intelligence (BI). Gartner predicts that organisations worldwide will spend $5.8 billion on BI platforms in 2008, up 11.2% from 2007 levels. Over the next four years, that pace will only be tempered slightly, slipping back to a compound annual growth rate of 8.1% and bringing the annual sales to $7.7 billion in 2012.

Indeed, BI was the ‘single highest technology priority for 2008’ in a worldwide survey by Gartner of 1,500 CIOs – the third consecutive year it has held that spot.

In the closely related field of data integration, revenues stood at $1.2 billion in 2006 and will grow at 17% compound over the next few years, says Gartner.

Demand for software for managing less structured data is even stronger. Gartner says the enterprise content management software market was worth $2.9 billion in 2007, and predicts a 13% compound growth rate through to 2011.

There is also fast-growing demand for technologies that enable access to all that content.

For most companies, the idea of using search tools across their information is a relatively novel one. But their absence is having a negative impact, according to analysts at the Butler Group.

Ineffective search and discovery strategies are resulting in companies wasting an estimated 10% of their staffing budget, concludes research by the IT industry advisory organisation.

It highlights how over 50% of staff costs are now allocated to employees who spend the majority of their time on ‘information work’. However, it estimates that the typical information worker spends up to a quarter of their day searching for the relevant information to carry out given tasks.

Gartner predicts worldwide enterprise search software sales will total $990 million in 2008, up 15% annually. By 2010 that will have almost doubled to $1.2 billion.

That catalogue of buoyant growth rates points to the wider requirement for the management of information in a holistic manner. “Organisations increasingly aim to leverage and control all data types across the business, making information part of the business infrastructure,” says Ted Friedman of Gartner. Over 2008, many organisations will move through the first stages of information management adoption “to building, operating and using their information assets for competitive advantage”.

David Cliff

David Cliff is managing director of Houghton le Spring-based Gedanken, a company specialising in coaching-based support and personal development. Cliff is an experienced trainer, manager and therapist,...

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