Can Low-Code / No-Code development correct information management?

PHOTO: Luis Villasmil | unsplash

Information management within organizations is in poor condition. At least that’s what many respondents say in the Association of Intelligent Information Management (AIIM) State of the Intelligent Information Management Industry 2021 report (login required). I have been a member of AIIM for over 20 years (if you include my “student” membership in the late 90s) and recently joined a panel of certified information professionals to discuss the findings of the report.

Some say no-code / low-code development could point the way out of the information management mess, but let’s dive into the report first.

What leads to the sorry state of information management?

In some ways, the results of the investigation were extremely damning. A combination of historical issues and other factors led to the report’s conclusions. For example, the volume of information processed by the average business continues to grow at a rapid rate, with surveyed members expecting a 57% year-over-year increase in unstructured information. Some of the findings suggested in the report include:

  • The C-Suite is unable to fully align business and technology strategies.
  • Organizations are drowning in the volume of information generated.
  • Businesses need to invest more in critical information management skills.
  • Technology is not the problem. Strategic orientation, finding the budget and coping with culture change are major challenges.

To a cynic like myself who thinks most CIOs are more CIOs than CIOs, much of it was infamously familiar. At one level, boards of directors and senior executives understand that information is incredibly valuable, even vital to some companies. And yet, in general, we seem to be doing a poor job of management?

Related article: Stop Complicating Information Management

The great challenge of information management

Many respondents suggest that no one in their organization has taken responsibility for information management at the enterprise level. The CIO did not do it, and neither did anyone else, and so it is vested in the business units. The business unit level may have difficulty establishing a rationale for professionals and information management systems when it is not viewed as essential to the business enterprise. The answers to the question “what is your biggest challenge” reflect this state:

  • Rising customer expectations in terms of access and use of information.
  • Being able to analyze increasing amounts of information to unlock value.
  • Long-term preservation of information to generate business value.
  • Information security threats and privacy challenges.
  • Align IT capabilities with business speed.

All of these seem reasonable, some of them encapsulate difficult technology or process challenges as they cross organizational boundaries, and yet the two biggest challenges reported by far were:

  • Manage information throughout its life cycle.
  • Digitization, automation and integration of processes.

These surprise me. We have been discussing and developing ways to resolve these issues for the 20 years that I have worked in the industry. The technology to address these issues has been around for decades – whether you want to talk about enterprise content management (ECM) or content service providers (CSP) – and obviously continues to improve. As a longtime AIIM member who now works for a cloud-based CSP listed by Gartner MQ, it puzzles me that managing information throughout its lifecycle remains one of the biggest problems !

Related article: Why You Need To Keep An Eye On Your Content Services

Citizen developers to the rescue?

Early last week, I attended a number of sessions at Gartner’s IT Symposium, a forum for CIOs and senior IT executives. A big takeaway from several sessions on different but related topics comes down to this: the CIO who will ensure the success of his organization will use a number of strategies, one essential being the use of code-free application development by business users.

Gartner defines no-code as a marketing term used to describe tools that people who are not professional developers can use to create software. Not being a professional developer does not mean that you have no training or experience in coding or developing business logic (business process rules). For a variety of reasons that we will not cover here, Gartner believes that CIOs will continue to struggle to find and retain top developers, and that they are a finite resource. So if you can bring in the smart people within business units to develop their own systems using no-code, drag-and-drop development based on their intimate knowledge of their business processes, then this is a winning solution. -winner for CIO and business unit. The CIO can stop worrying about empty seats on development teams, and the business unit no longer has to wait months or years for IT.

Related Article: Power Apps Problems Remind Us Of The Need For Low-Code / No-Code Governance

Everyone wins with the Low-Code! Or are they doing it?

From an information management perspective, it looks like it could go one of two ways: good or not so good.

Let’s take a look at the not-so-good result first. Outsourcing development to talented business specialists means they can respond to business needs and changes in its operating environment in a much more agile way, which is a good thing. However, do business people who can write logic to encapsulate their process flows have a very good understanding of information flows? You might think that the two are the same, but I would say they are not.

A Subject Matter Expert (SME) focused on improving the efficiency of a front-end business process may have little or no knowledge of document management, long-term preservation, or privacy requirements. and request access to the subject of the information with which it works. their system. This may or may not be a problem. If the company provides business unit codeless teams with the right repositories and back-end systems for the tools they create, as well as an information management center of excellence to answer their questions and assist them , we could be well placed. However, if everything is left to the business unit and its small IM or information governance team (if applicable), and if budgets are not organized appropriately, there is a push towards corporate development. Applications without business unit code could actually exacerbate information management problems.

On the other hand, if the CIO can organize and lead the finances, structures, strategies and policies to fully enable the digital transformation of business units through no-code application development teams, then they could dramatically improve the information management situation.

If the push into the business unit includes comprehensive information literacy education, as well as specialized training to get the most out of preferred non-coding tools and environments, we could get to the point where the aggregate sum of benefits is superior to each. individual improvement. Depending on the size of the organization, its structures, culture and industry, this could take the form of centralized ‘support units’ organized into centers of excellence for information management and / or information governance, no-code development practices, analytics, RPA and AI. The CIO can then use his scarce specialized resources to get the most out of them. Or if everything is vested in the business unit, the CIO team can generate standards structures to generate and staff a multidisciplinary team in each business unit, ensuring that good practices are in place for the use of tools without code and again generating a local impact on information management issues.

What happens next?

So where are we now? According to AIIM members, the state of the information management industry is not excellent. The AIIM conference in Denver next spring will build on the report and focus on what AIIM thinks we can and should do about it.

Meanwhile, Gartner suggests that CIOs will never have enough specialist developers to take full advantage of the benefits of digital transformation, and should partner with business leaders to take advantage of citizen developers in business units using digital technology. tools without code to fill the void.

I hope that this latest approach takes into account information management as a discipline and that information management professionals can help their SMEs become great drivers of change and digital transformation – the winner. – winning that we are all looking for.

Jed Cawthorne is Director of Security and Governance Solutions at NetDocuments. He is involved in product management and works with clients to make NetDocuments even more phenomenally successful products.

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