So we’re all in the cloud! Now what? In 2014, most businesses have recognized that sophisticated content management is critical to success, but many are still working on ways to build these systems into the organizational DNA. With so many emerging technologies, many companies are holding back rather than investing everything in an infrastructure that may need replacing.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a formalized means of organizing and storing an organization’s documents, and other content, that relate to the organization’s processes, encompassing strategies, methods, and tools used with content. If you don’t think ECM matters, then think again. ECM plays a vital role in helping organizations interact with and manage content across multiple platforms, and is expected to become a $12.32 billion industry by 2019, according to a recent report. Yes, I said billions!
Do I have your attention now?
Here are the five hottest trends in the ECM realm:
Mobile Content Management
Support for mobile is increasingly vital for businesses as employees move away from being desk-bound and begin to rely more on smartphones and tablets. In fact, more than 50% of Internet traffic now comes from mobile and this percentage is only going to grow as many business activities, and the associated need for data and applications, are migrating outside of the office. However, security remains the biggest concern for organizations attempting to implement mobile enterprise solutions. For example, while BYOD is a problem for the IT folks, it seems as though many, many organizations have yet to formally deal with it.
Hybrid Cloud-Based ECM
Given the sensitivity of the content involved, many businesses have decided not to fully cloudify their processes and other vital business documents. While everyone desires the convenience of the cloud, there’s also a lot to be said for the security of having everything stored locally. And that’s why hybrid cloud-based solutions are beginning to attract a lot of attention, allowing the benefits of the cloud while keeping all sensitive information firmly secured on a local server. Recently, some third-party companies have been looking at adapting their cloud services into a hybrid model, with increasing levels of success.
SMB and Mid-Market ECM
Once the domain of large enterprises, new and emerging technologies are now making it possible for SMBs and mid-tier companies to take advantage of ECM features and functionality. The winning solution for small businesses combines content management, cloud or advanced storage capabilities, real-time file sharing, and synchronization with various mobile devices, all falling under the ECM umbrella. Also, the use of APIs provides the ability to integrate ECM functionality in a-la-carte fashion, with much less development effort.
These APIs provide great flexibility in implementation, allowing smaller enterprises to add specific services as needed, while only paying for the services that are consumed. Companies like OpenText, SimpleECM and Alfesco provide API-centric ECM services by the spoonful and can integrate these services from the capture of documents into the vast and growing list of popular cloud-based services (disclosure: Simple ECM was formerly a client of mine).
Integration with Business Apps
ECM has, in the past, been something of an IT chore. Aligning content management with the daily functions of business applications can be a challenge, which is why there is demand to see increased integration with systems such as accounting, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Developing data workflows into these systems creates tremendous gains in productivity. Solutions such as M-Files make this kind of integration seamless and provide real value to end users.
Improved Information Governance
Possibly the most important step any business can take is to manage its information efficiently. This is increasingly seen not as an IT function or a compliance function, but as a part of the business itself. Intelligent document filing and classification can be an enormous productivity tool when implemented strategically. Improved accuracy and efficiency are the rewards to effective content management.
It’s no longer good enough for us to be in the cloud, we must think about what we’re really doing with it! In conclusion, I can acknowledge that ECM is not the most exciting thing in the world to think about. That’s OK, because the results of this hard work and planning will be there for the businesses who take the time to think about it.
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