Effective use of enterprise content management (ECM) tools can improve process efficiencies and boost environmentally friendly practices, according to new research from Gartner.
The analyst firm's Enterprise Content Management Strategies for Green IT report outlines six areas where companies can identify processes which could help them become greener, including the use of electronic forms to reduce the need for paper documents.
Organisations are advised to look at their ECM efforts in a more strategic, enterprise-wide light, consolidating applications and using content-enabled vertical applications to automate complex processes where possible.
Gartner urges companies to consider the wasted server time in running information that has been duplicated in multiple systems, for example.
"Evaluate repository consolidation and enterprise approaches when you think about an ECM strategy," the report said. "Move away from smaller departmental nooks and crannies in which information is often trapped rather than being accessible throughout the enterprise."
Outsourcing certain elements of an ECM system can also bring green benefits, because outsourcing providers can maximise the efficiency of their infrastructure, the report advised.
Companies should also store documents electronically rather than in paper format because the energy associated with paper manufacture and distribution, and that required to air condition large paper-storage environments, can be significant.
"The 1980s notion of a paperless office was about how technology could bring efficiency and change work styles," said Mark Gilbert, research vice president at Gartner.
"Organisations are realising that process improvements, and the move away from paper to electronic processes, can also bring green benefits, such as energy savings from paper production, distribution, usage and disposition, and transit through the postal system."
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