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Artificial intelligence grabs center stage at AIIM’s information management leadership council

Last week I attended and chaired a panel at the AIIM Executive Leadership Council in Washington, D.C. Attendees were drawn from the AIIM board, visionaries and thought leaders working in the information management space, and senior executives from some of the leading information management vendors.

The event’s purpose was to identify emerging technologies and markets impacting the information management space and AIIM over the next 3-5 years. But this was no routine meeting to discuss emerging technologies. Instead, the attendees recognized that the information management space is at an inflection point, whether it’s enterprise content management (ECM), business process management (BPM), case management or the full spectrum of content technologies, including digital asset management (DAM), web content management (WCM), electronic file sync and share (EFFS) and records management. And the data management markets are undergoing the same inflection points at an even faster acceleration rate because of the close relationship between AI, big data and predictive analytics.

My former colleague, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, kicked off a great discussion by showing this graphic (see below) that depicts five emerging technologies that are now impacting information management.

We then discussed three hot topics: the role of cybersecurity in information management, the deployment of large-scale records management in an all-digital world (including records from social and texting), and the impact of AI on information management at large.

Of course, blockchain came up during the discussion. This technology will play a large role in records management by securing and authenticating information and transactions. Blockchain will also help with cybersecurity by preventing certain types of hacking. (It will not, however, prevent data breaches.) Alan warned about the hype surrounding blockchain and cautioned attendees to keep it in perspective, saying “Blockchain is one of the most disruptive technologies we have encountered in a long time – its value, though, is limited. What it does do is to provide an immutable and secure governance trail to transactional activities, for example, changes to a contract. That alone opens the door to many new applications that can be built leveraging the blockchain.”

The conversation became animated when Alan teed up a discussion about artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning (see below).


Attendees were curious to learn more about the AI field, both in general and how AI will impact information management and business processes. One of the participants on my panel asked for a show of hands for how many people already use AI and virtually everyone raised their hands. Some of the examples given for how we already use AI, sometimes without realizing it, include:

Voice recognition – anyone who uses Siri or Alexa is using an AI application.

Credit card validation – when customers swipe their credit cards, AI software determines if the cardholder is a valid customer and if funds are authorized, or if the transaction should be blocked.

ecommerce– some companies use AI to fine tune their product pitches. For example, Netflix selects trailers based on the customer, such as a younger or older female, a younger or older male and so forth. This is only the beginning; highly individualized web content from systems that learn on the fly and use facial recognition or biometrics will be a pervasive AI application for ecommerce.

Call and contact centers – whether it’s a chatbot or a real person, marrying AI and predictive analytics allows sellers to identify the next best action to propose to the caller. Next best action determines what next step(s) will create the most delightful customer experience or will most likely to deliver the best sales/financial results.

Loans – the finance industry uses AI to identify and prevent likely defaults, fraud or criminal activity.

News feeds – Facebook uses machine learning to personalize news feeds, adapting whenever a user “likes” a post.

These are only a few of the possibilities. It’s a brave new world and we’re only getting started. As information management professionals, here are some important steps to take:

  1.  Think through and research how AI will impact any given technology in use today. AI, machine learning and deep learning will impact literally everything in IT. There will be winners and losers. (The equivalent of car manufacturers and buggy whip manufacturers.)
  2. Grill your vendors to see what they think about AI, what their plans are for AI, and if they are equal to the task.
  3. Get deeper education on AI. This is one of those times when it is important to hunker down and learn the specifics. If you are in IT or if you are in business, you need a working knowledge of AI.
  4. Team with marketing professionals to determine how AI will impact all of your organization’s channels.
  5. Take the organization’s digital transformation playbook and update/revitalize it. AI will unleash even greater disruption than the forces already in play.
  6. Resist the vendor hype and hot air. Some of the larger IT vendors in particular have dramatically overplayed their hands in AI.
  7. Don’t think of AI as a discrete thing. The value to the organization will come from combining AI technologies with other technologies to support cross-functional, digital processes. Take the big picture perspective.


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