Content and Crisis

My son was trying to decide what to be for Halloween this year. I told him if you really want to scare people – go as the number 9955. The events of the last few weeks has us all concerned but during my ridiculously expensive commutes I have been wondering what new content management opportunities will arise from the current crisis.

The last financial debacle (Enron) gave us Sarbanes-Oxley which has spawned a seemingly endless series of seminars and software.  Interestingly – I heard an off hand remark from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich advocate removing the Market-to-Market provision of the burdensome regulation. In his comments he went beyond this provision to cite the cost to business to accommodate the rules.

SOX was a marketing dream to the CMS industry. Companies that never thought seriously about finding, accounting for and being able to produce the enormous amounts of unstructured data were now forced to do so. I would suggest that the cost of implementation and risk of non-compliance was a driving factor in the decision to privatize a number of notable publicly traded companies. Regulation by itself though doesn’t drive a company to spend money on content management.

A given corporation’s desire to implement content management is always driven by one of the following.


Regulation drives content. It always has. Pharma’s have led the way in controlled document management because they HAD to. Technical documentation in transportation is not electronically managed because it gives airlines competitive advantage. That’s the only way you can remain compliant and stay in business.


If a business is growing, they will eventually reach the point at which the only way they can keep up is to automate.  Many of the first content management applications that the public experienced were check imaging systems. The volume of transactions and cost of handling the paper was so excessive that imaging in the area of finance and accounting quickly became one of the easiest improvements to cost justify.  Other business areas only became interested as their work became dependent upon personal computing and Office documents.


Everything with a name and bank account is a target for litigation. The bigger the account – the bigger the risk. The bigger the name – the bigger the risk. No area of content management has been driven more by litigation than eMail archiving.  Not investing in this area however is one of the great gambles of modern business.  It’s never a problem – until the process server shows up. Then your content is in crisis.

Circle of Crisis

These three drivers will always build on each other. A regulation requires a signature, the number transactions exceeds what will fit in a file cabinet and you get sued because somebody lost a record.  The only question is at what point it becomes a crisis and forces you to divert resources to deal with it.

I have little doubt that beyond the bailout there will be reactionary legislation and the armies of recent MBA graduates will be dispatched into corporate America to tell you what to do about it.  No matter what form the reaction takes – Content will be at the center of it – so get ready.

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