ECM Set to Become Something Bigger – But What?
AIIM’s CEO John Mancini explains why ECM is at the dawn of a new era.
The rapid arrival of consumerization, cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) are set to bring an end to the ECM era as we know it – signalling a new age of people, process and information management.
AIIM has been tracking the primary drivers for ECM investment since 2004, around the time imaging systems were being replaced by full-blown content management. Then, as today, cost savings and efficiency were the main reasons for adoption. But we have also in recent years seen compliance and risk challenges join the list of drivers. Customer service and collaboration also seem to be converging as business drivers— although data management is still a bit confusing—most likely due to the complexities and challenges associated with multi-channel inputs.
In our 24/7 connected world, where work and leisure blur, we have seen an explosion of data from mobile devices and IoT that is only going to make the bang a whole lot bigger. Market research company IDC expects the market for IoT to grow to $1.7 trillion by 2020 as more devices come online and platforms and services grow up around them. In the same time frame, IDC expects 29.5 billion devices to be connected. This comes at a time of discord and upheaval, when enterprises are already battling content overload.
AIIM’s ECM Decisions Industry Watch report highlighted the fact that more than two-thirds of organizations see ECM/DM as mission-critical, and one-third of respondents say they would suffer serious disruption after an outage of just one hour. Seventy-five of organizations maintain that ECM/RM is a fundamental part of their information security regime.
Looking at the overall landscape of our survey, ECM is embedded in the enterprise, serves mission-critical needs, and still has room for expansion into other areas of functionality. Over half of respondents still have a single enterprise-wide system as their goal, despite the number of ECM/DM/RM systems they currently support, and the rest are looking to link together other content and enterprise systems to provide a single point for search access and some lifecycle management. The provision or integration of social platforms, capture systems and records management within the ECM suite is also being viewed as an inviting option.
Despite this, enormous change is underway within the broader technology space, propelled by mobile, analytics, cloud and collaborative technologies – the “MACC stack.” These are changing the way enterprises see ECM fitting into their overall strategy. These changes include new approaches to privacy and security, ubiquitous broadband connectivity, increased regulation of the cloud by national governments, more virtual and distributed work, and bottom up rather than top down innovation. There is also a looming shortage of IT ‘connective’ and analytic skills. Cloud computing discussions often take on a “theological” YES/NO tone in the absence of a real and serious conversation about true nature of risk.
We cannot shy away from the fact that user adoption of ECM solutions is a challenge. Although 29% of organizations with an ECM solution are in the process of planning or rolling out mobile access, only 39% currently provide mobile access of any sort. Most mobile functionality is restricted to search and view access, and this may well be through the browser rather than a dedicated app, limiting offline capability. Fifty-five percent have no app-based capability.
All of this translates into usability issues for many ECM systems and the popularity of “shadow IT” content solutions. Over 60% of those with ECM systems report challenges with usability. In addition, 62% note that file shares continue play an important part in their organization. Only 30% have integrated multi-channel inbound capture. Over 60% of organizations say, “We don’t have any linkage between our ERP/Finance and ECM/RM systems.”
Content Management has long been an arena in which “technology” has received the lion’s share of attention in the triad of people, process, and technology. When we look at ECM implementations that succeeded vs. those that failed, a common element is that those that succeed ultimately understand that “ECM” is not about technology. It is about the interaction of people and process WITH technology. We recently met with a company that had been plugging through a gigantic, multimillion dollar ECM project driven by their IT department. After many years, they had only achieved two of their initial 10 objectives, and no one was very excited about those. And there was a lot of software sitting on the shelf.
People. Process. Technology. Appropriate technology needs to flow FROM a detailed understanding of People and Process, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. And we need to understand that better in the Content Management space, especially in this era of consumer technology
You cannot get away from the fact that enterprises still need their content to be managed properly. The term ‘ECM’, however, is past its sell-by date as a description for the assault these exciting new technologies are having on the marketplace. At the same time enterprises are in desperate need of best practices to deal with the technology disruption that is happening right now.
But remember with change comes reconstruction. Best practices in this emerging era of ECM do not exist yet. This is what AIIM and others in the industry will be looking to address over the next 12 months – breaking down the issues in practical terms so that they can be easily digested by business to put successful roadmaps in place.
John Mancini is an author, speaker, and respected leader of the AIIM global community of information professionals. He believes that in the next five years, a wave of Digital Transformation will sweep through businesses and organisations, who will face a fundamental choice between Information Opportunity and Information Chaos.