Effective May 1, I will be retiring from the workforce and, sadly, from Zia Consulting. Many years ago, I began my journey in commercial enterprise technology solutions sales. Whew, that is a mouthful I know! At that time, the industry was working to minimize risk in paper based processes and handling. Costs for processing paper based content was a huge factor in converting companies that were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on manual paper handling. Further, companies could not easily find important and sensitive data within their content.
During the 80’s, I worked with banks and companies in the check processing industry. The manual process they used to pass checks around to recoup associated funds was a vital piece of the economic backbone in the USA. When the thought of exchanging electronic images versus paper arose, traditionalists and bankers balked at the idea. They were concerned that the process of electronically exchanging images, signature verification, and misread dollar amounts would be problematic. At that point government regulators and technology vendors stepped in to provide direction and functionality that would make check image exchange a reality for the US economy. This was the beginning of a checkless society, which we all know has not come to complete fruition. It may never, but check volume has been reduced dramatically.
As I reflect on those days, I realize that the same thing is happening right now with full page document management. While there has been some resistance to electronically accessing and viewing documents, this method has largely been accepted. Enterprises now realize that documents, or enterprise content, is a valuable corporate asset that requires normal data governance practices. Even more strategic is the reality that the data on documents also needs to be deployed in a fashion that supports the business and can be a tool for revenue growth. Of course there is risk in handling content electronically due to PII and other sensitive personal and corporate data. That is why normal corporate data governance rules must be applied to safeguard the sensitive data housed within content. The acceptance of this mindset, and the adoption of technologies to manage content within an enterprise, has been a major shift.
Today, there are several options for managing corporate data more effectively. Storage costs are very low, and when coupled with the multiple choices for cloud based computing and storage, it makes managing content easier. Some of these relatively new computing resources and applications have contributed to delivering the most benefits in productivity and security. At the same time, it is more complex in terms of the options enterprises need to consider when choosing a solution. Many years ago, enterprises simply stored an electronic document on a hard drive or some other storage subsystem to keep the content. However, simple access and data delivery were largely ignored. With the advent of document based management technologies, this problem is managed more efficiently today. In all of my years in this space, the availability, costs, and effectiveness of document based computing resources is the single most important factor in the actual growth versus elimination of content.
During the latter part of my career, I had the absolute pleasure of partnering with the clients of Zia Consulting to effectively manage the challenges of content management and distribution. Today, this transcends the boundaries of internal company processes to the discovery that external constituents and partners also need to have access to various forms of content. The technology solutions that Zia offers provide organizations a clear path to deal with these challenges.
It seems very profound to have watched the market shift over the years. Originally, we thought that one day we would achieve a paperless society. However, that concept has evolved to include significant adoption of efficiently managing documents and content in a way that treats them the same as corporate data. It is hard to believe that almost everyone has adopted the new standard of viewing and exchanging electronic documents instead of paper. Even in my own home, we have adopted a paperless policy. If any documents need to be kept for reference purposes, we scan or download them electronically and throw away the paper. It’s pretty amazing and is actually a much better way to manage and access important personal information.
Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) have become the next frontier for managing content. This is exciting and shows great potential for content handling in the future. Throughout my career, I watched clients review and consider the use of new and transformational technologies like these, only to find that their competitor had already adopted them. Of course, this will be refined and it is clear that the promise of AI and RPA is upon us. It will be very interesting to watch the continued evolution of this market.
Reading this, you may be wondering why I would retire at such an exciting time in the industry. The simple answer is that I have been working to solve these challenges for over 41 years and it is time for me to march on. I know that I will never catch the technology evolution that is forever upon us. I have made my contribution and can now watch others expand on my legacy.
As I reflect, one of the best things in my career has been the relationships I have forged with clients, many of whom have become personal friends. You know you’ve done something right when that happens. I will miss the day-to-day excitement of working at Zia and helping clients with their legacy content processes. There is no better work satisfaction than seeing an avidly developed solution come to fruition in a meaningful way for a client.
I will also miss the teamwork at Zia. I have had the pleasure of working alongside very smart and focused people who care deeply about workplace culture. I hope everybody gets the same career opportunity that I have experienced working at Zia at some point in their career. Not only do I know that the people at Zia are second to none, our clients see them in action and know that Zia is truly working on their behalf. Giving that experience to a client is the definition of success. Frankly, after 41 years in this industry, I have come to believe that mutual success is what it is all about. Mark that goal as completed! Zia is fantastic and my experience working there has been priceless. It has given me a fulfilling and graceful way to end my career.
*The team at Zia Consulting would like to thank Mark for being an incredible asset and friend to this organization. His professionalism, expertise, charm, and spirit will be greatly missed. We wish Mark happiness and success with his retirement!*