EIM – a new acronym?

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Content Copyright © 2014 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

On January 16th 2014 OpenText announced that it had completed its acquisition of the GXS Group. OpenText have been involved in a series of acquisitions over the last few years. The aim of this acquisition, according to OpenText, is to increase their leadership in EIM by combining OpenText’s Information Exchange portfolio with GXS’s cloud-based business-to-business integration services and managed services.

This was the first time I had come across the three letter acronym of EIM. So I thought I had to find out more. Well EIM stands for Enterprise Information Management. So what does it refer to? I found four very different definitions of the acronym (Wikipedia, Gartner, techopedia and SearchConetentmanagement). So I think what we at Bloor need to do is to give you our view then I can review how OpenText’s acquisition of GXS is likely to help.

The first thing to say is that EIM appears to be a new view of what those of us involved in the British Computer Society’s Data Administration Working Party called Data Management and what I, when I was asked to write the CCTA’s Data Management Guide, referred to as Information Management. So a new name for something that we have already had a lot written about in the latter part of the 20th Century! What we are dealing with is a set of business processes, disciplines and practices used to manage the information created from an organisation’s data. It is all about putting into place and running efficient and agile data management operations with capabilities for information creation, capture, distribution and consumption. 

The goal is to provide and preserve information as a business asset that remains secure, easily accessible, meaningful, accurate and timely. This results in an improvement in the enablement of business insight. For those of you interested in reading more I refer you to following publications:

  • Data Management (1994), CCTA Information Management Library, HMSO
  • Data Administration, Simon Holloway, Gower (June 1988)
  • Information Management Papers, Holloway Consulting (Feb 2003), www.holloway-consulting.co.uk – a set of 4 papers given to MSC Students at the University of Kingston:
    • What is Information Management? 
    • Mission and Objectives of Information Management
    • Roles and Responsibilities of Information Management
    • Going for Information Management
  • Data and Applications, Philip Howard, Bloor White Paper, 21 January, 2014

Only one of the definition sources I reviewed talked about technology. This definition referred to EIM as the combination of business intelligence (BI) and enterprise content management (ECM). It goes on to state that where BI and ECM respectively manage structured and unstructured information, EIM approaches the management of information from the perspective of enterprise information strategy, based on the needs of information workers. I have some problems with this as firstly I am not sure that BI really is about controlling structured data, I would rather have said it was about analysing defined structured data to provide business insight and, as for ECM, it covers more than just the management of unstructured data in that it covers the processes involved in the production and delivery of this unstructured data. However I can see where this view of EIM is coming from.

So what is Bloor’s definition? Well it is a refinement of what the BCS and I did back in 1989 and the 90’s. Enterprise Information Management is a holistic approach to the management of Information as a corporate resource within an organisation. The emphasis is on integral, efficient and effective management and this means getting the right information to right people at the right time. The management of the information resource covers its acquisition, protection, utilisation and dissemination and the promotion and management of programmes to derive maximum benefit from the resource. It is a management activity rather than a technical one, but supported by various technologies that need careful co-ordination.

How then does OpenText’s acquisition of GXS fit into helping organisations manage their information? To understand this we have to look at what technology is offered by GXS and OpenText.  GXS are a provider of B2B integration services. They provide their products as cloud services and have a series of “Active” badged applications including:

  • Active Documents, which provides visibility for many document types, including EDI, XML and proprietary formats. Information about any document or B2B business process is accessed through a web interface. Reports can be viewed online or downloaded into CSV-formatted reports for further analysis in Microsoft Excel.
  • Active Orders, which is a SaaS application that provides supply chain visibility into the complete Procure-to-Pay process for buyers and suppliers. It manages relationships with trading partners, exchange documents, and identifies potential inefficiencies.
  • Active Logistics, which is a hosted SaaS application service that proactively monitors order and shipment status along the supply chain, across geographies, transportation modes and logistics providers.

In addition, GXS offer Enterprise Gateway, which is a B2B integration software platform designed for enterprises seeking to manage their own B2B integration programs in-house. It was originally developed through a strategic partnership between GXS and Software AG. Enterprise Gateway provides a combination of both traditional EDI transaction processing with XML and web services-based technologies. It includes an integration broker and a translator along with communications and application adaptors. Additionally, you can layer on Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) and Business Process Management (BPM) modules.

OpenText have been one of the leading organisations in the ECM and BPM space and, with their acquisitions of both Metastorm and Global 360 in 2011, these acquisitions mean that the company has a number of overlapping products so that over the years since they have been through a consolidation process. The acquisition of GXS means that OpenText are able to offer BPM/ECM technologies linked to a set of cloud–based, well-established B2B integration technologies.

Does this mean that OpenText have a complete solution to EIM? I think the answer to that question is no at the moment. What they have is a solution that combines the BI components from GXS’s product set with their existing BPM and ECM products. But there is much more to EIM that just that. This is not to say that the OpenText acquisition of GXS won’t achieve in the future a solution for the technology side of EIM, but there is a great deal more to manage EIM effectively in an organisation than technology!