How AI and blockchain disrupt enterprise information management

Artificial Intelligence
oct. 16, 2017

Under the headline ‘Defining a new age’, the latest AIIM Executive Leadership Council explored the main challenges of new technologies for intelligent information management. In this blog post, we zoom in on two major disruptive forces and their impacts on EIM: artificial intelligence and blockchain.

By now, the importance of smart content, proper information management, its main challenges and opportunities to optimize EIM are already well-known. New technologies, however, can have disruptive impacts on the ECM and EIM markets by replacing existing technologies and/or creating new and valuable capabilities.

Artificial Intelligence

Well-applied AI, machine learning approaches and cognitive computing can boost almost any information management process. Imagine, for example, how machine learning could revolutionize the efficiency, intelligence and speed of digital capturing processes like scanning, automation and (auto-)classification.

Imagine also the growing capabilities of cognitive computing applied to all kinds of data – not only structured data, but large-scale content repositories as well. Companies are spending vast sums to digitize paper archives, reorganize large file sharing, and set up collaboration solutions and document management platforms. The main driver behind this is the old adage ‘information is the new gold’.

From operational excellence to activation

So far, however, the focus has been on operational excellence, shrinking stacks of paper and saving physical storage. With cognitive computing, we will be able to ‘activate’ content to reveal new insights. It goes without saying that cognitive computing, in combination with a solid information management platform, can help organizations to overcome the challenges posed by GDPR.

Many vendors offer cognitive platforms as-a-service: IBM Watson, MS Azure Cognitive services, and OpenText Maghelan. These firms are all making huge strides in offering such capabilities in economically interesting ways.


Blockchain-based innovations are being developed at a speed that has never been seen before. Once confined to the finance industry, the number of blockchain applications in almost every industry is exploding. Governments are catching up as well. The government of the UAE, for example, wants to go fully blockchain by 2020. In Estonia, the platform is used to manage citizens’ medical files. Financial institutions use the platform to create more digital transparency and compliance. This will disrupt the entire audit industry, possibly rendering many of its functions obsolete.

Other industries have adopted this technology in a logistical context. The traceability of contested goods, like diamonds, and the supply chains of fair-trade products spring to mind. While the vast majority of companies weren’t exposed to the concept of blockchain until very recently, 80% have already started exploring and experimenting with it.

Blockchain vs. ECM and EIM

Will blockchain replace ECM and EIM systems? Not immediately. Remember that blockchain is a distributed ledger that replicates transactions across the entire user platform. Although there are already companies offering blockchain-based databases as a storage alternative, most information will remain under direct control of the companies themselves. Recall recent discussions centering around Infonomics, where it was clear that the value of a company increases with the amount of valuable and unique information it owns, and how well it’s managed.

Impacts on successful ECM/EIM implementation

AI and cognitive computing can increase the value of the information that has been captured over the years. Exploiting big data and big content repositories will only be possible using machine-driven learning and cognitive processes. These innovations will activate information, make employees more efficient and knowledgeable, and transform companies into truly smart enterprises. This will further fortify any business case about investing in ECM & EIM platforms.

Even though blockchain will not replace ECM platforms, a successful ECM vendor will use the technology’s current momentum to develop a platform that offers flexible content services. Services that facilitate interaction with blockchain platforms will be the key to success. Such services will enable transparent information flows between organizations, individuals and governments, replacing most extranet variations and other information exchange platforms (IEPs). As soon as governments embrace blockchain in their legislation, this will be a game-changer for vendors providing content services to the blockchain platform.

Get inspired and take action

These are only two examples of disruptive technologies; we’ll be discussing plenty more in upcoming blog posts. Embracing these technologies begins with being inspired by their possibilities in diverse industries and use cases. One thing is for sure: the first organization to transform into a smart and intelligent enterprise will have a major leg up over its competitors.

Want to know more about EIM, blockchain, AI, cognitive computing and GDPR? Join us on October 26 for delaware inspiration evening, an inspiring event that explores the potential of digital transformation and innovative technologies.

Author: Johan Raedemaeker. You can connect with him on LinkedIn
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