Technicians using laptop while analyzing server in server room
Technicians using laptop while analyzing server in server room PHOTO: Shutterstock

Information management concerns a cycle of organizational activity: the acquisition of information from one or more sources, the custodianship and the distribution of that information to those who need it, and its ultimate disposition through archiving or deletion.

Behind all this year's headlines about enabling technologies, remote workers and management strategies to keep workers productive, is the struggle to keep this technology cycle moving. While information management is key to this, it is important to keep in sight the fact that information management is a global term that covers all the interactions and technologies that keeps workers productive, including automation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and privacy.

Time and time again we have seen how organizations invest heavily in new technologies yet fail to see significant increases in productivity. At the end of a year marked by the COVID-19 crisis, there have been major changes in the way businesses operate. From remote workers to rapid transformation and the use of new technologies and methodologies, the way some things get done is hardly recognizable from one year ago.

For the next year, it is likely that as enterprises continue to struggle to keep the flow of information moving, that they will start pulling more technologies into the enterprise and integrate the technologies that they already have. It is also likely that there will be an increased focus on processes designed to keep remote workers and on-site workers in step and to ensure that the widely discussed hybrid workplace — a workplace consisting of on site and remote teams — becomes a reality. The top 10 information management articles in CMSWire this year reflect these changes and point to where we will be going in 2021. Here they are:

1. BPA vs. RPA: How Are They Similar, How Are They Different?

As we wade through the sea of technologies within the modernization realm, automation, especially process automation, has grown by leaps and bounds, taking on a new guise in the form of robotic process automation or RPA. However, process automation is not by any means new to the computing industry. Starting from the days of lean manufacturing and assembly-line production, the process automation movement has been about optimizing processes to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, while providing a higher quality product.

2. The Implications of the EU's Decision To Shoot Down US Privacy Shield

Earlier this year, Europe's top court ruled that the Privacy Shield data-sharing agreement between the U.S. and European Union was invalid. In the ruling by the European Court of Justice, judges expressed concerns that Privacy Shield certification did not adequately protect the data of European citizens from U.S. surveillance activities in the same way they are protected in the EU.

3. IBM Embarks on a New Era at Think 2020

At this year’s IBM hosted its annual Think conference we got the first real glimpse of Arvind Krishna at the helm of a new era of transformation for Big Blue. The virtual event saw important announcements in hybrid cloud, edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI). IBM's strengths in open-source software and in hybrid, multi-cloud and mission-critical operations were dominant themes throughout, revealing bolder positioning from IBM. The event also marked the first time the flagship event showcased the streamlined IBM line-up of offerings, following the sale of its Watson marketing and commerce capabilities in April 2019.

4. 6 Reasons to Deploy SharePoint in a Hybrid Environment

With hybrid, productivity services in SharePoint Online can be integrated with on-premises SharePoint Server to provide unified functionality and access to data.  For enterprises that want to gradually move their existing on-premises SharePoint Server services to the cloud, SharePoint Server hybrid provides a staged migration path. In effect, it enables users to extend high-impact SharePoint Server workloads to SharePoint Online. When computing and processing demand fluctuates, hybrid cloud computing gives businesses the ability to seamlessly scale their on-premises infrastructure up to the public cloud to handle any overflow — without giving third-party data center’s access to the entirety of their data.

5. Why Does Internal Audit Need to Be Agile?

We live in a world where business conditions are changing all the time and the pace of change is accelerating. That is universally accepted. Internal audit needs to be able to respond to those changes promptly. When new risks of significance to success are identified, internal audit needs to be able to update its plan and provide the assurance and insight that leaders need —when they need it, not when a static plan provides.

6. COVID-19 Further Exposes Document Management Weaknesses

Most practitioners charged with leading the technology and infrastructure in the workplace find document management as a "very important" digital workplace technology, according to data in the 2019 Simpler Media Group "The State of the Digital Workplace Report." (Editor's note: Simpler Media owns CMSWire). More than 73% of them selected document management, beating enterprise search (66.3%), group chat/team collaboration tools (64.4%), knowledge management (63.5%) and mobile enablement (63.4%). Less than half of practitioners (42.9%) found artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning/automation as very important. They want document management before these other hyped-up technologies.

7. Digital Transformation: Why Now?

It is hard to avoid the phrase “digital transformation” in technology articles these days. The thing is we have been in the digital age for at least 40 years. Companies have been transforming with the use of digital technology for a long time now. For example, in 1986 the New York Times covered "Digital’s Surprising Revival" which investigated the business transformation of Digital Equipment Corporation. So why is digital transformation so important right now for companies? What is different?

8. The Role of AI in Ensuring Data Privacy

With artificial intelligence (AI) now used in many of the apps that drive the digital workplace, many enterprise managers are beginning to question the implications this will have for privacy. This is not just speculation though. There is a good deal of research that indicates just how deep AI has dug into the technology that is in place to protect customers and app users’ privacy and, by extension, the enterprise itself.

9. Microsoft Build 2020 Unveils the Evolution of Lists

Microsoft Build took place online last week, but the move to a virtual event in no way curtailed the amount or velocity of announcements the company made. For the purposes of this piece, we are going to focus on just one of the many Build announcements: Microsoft Lists.

10. The Digital Transformation Struggle Is Real

Time and time again we see organizations invest heavily in both the cloud and new technologies yet fail to see significant increases in productivity. The phenomena are widely acknowledged, but we cannot put a finger on why it keeps happening. Hunter Willis explores some of the common stumbling blocks — and more importantly, ways to avoid them — and find ways to increase productivity, while also getting the return on investment (ROI) out of digital transformation.