This new era of technology and means of communication is making life difficult for organizations trying to get their hands around content. For its annual “State of the ECM Industry” report, AIIM surveyed 568 individuals from a variety of industries including insurance. The report states that managing electronic office documents is still a challenge for 47% of organizations, and that modern business communication channels—instant messages, text messages, blogs and wikis—are uncontrolled, and off the corporate radar for 75% of businesses.

E-mail management also poses a problem. According to the report, 55% of organizations still have little or no confidence that important e-mails are recorded, complete and retrievable.

“For many organizations, poorly managed and out of control information represents a huge potential source of bottom line savings in this tight economy—if only organizations would just take this cost saving seriously,” says John Mancini, president of AIIM. “Controlled content can be fed into business processes to speed them up, cut down travel via project collaboration and form a knowledge base for the business. Uncontrolled content represents a lost opportunity—and a major compliance risk.”

While compliance is a driver for ECM projects, AIIM’s research finds that the main motivating factors for bringing electronic content into a controlled and searchable environment are cost savings and efficiency. And, some of the projects are proving successful. According to the report, for insurers that have invested in enterprise content management (ECM) or document and records management solutions, hard dollar savings have, on the whole, turned out on plan, and soft dollar benefits have exceeded expectations. Compared to other significant technology investments, ECM implementations have generally produced better returns.

So what tools can an insurer use to ensure that efficiency? According to the report, the single ECM system concept is still alive in 35% of organizations, whereas 33% plan to use a single sign-on portal to link together multiple repositories—Microsoft SharePoint being the most popular tool for doing so—with 9% stating they will use Enterprise Search to solve this problem.

There is still a wide disparity in how organizations view SharePoint relative to their overall content management needs and strategies. In 29% of organizations, SharePoint is working in competition with, or in parallel with existing ECM, document management or records management suites, compared to 16% where it is integrated with existing suites, and 12% where it is considered to be the only ECM suite. The remainder use SharePoint to “fill in some functions.”

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