Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is an umbrella term covering document management, web content management, search, collaboration, records management, digital asset management (DAM), workflow management, capture and scanning.
Dunn says content sits at the heart of every modern enterprise. Customer records, management reports, administrative documents and financial summaries are the lifeblood that keep daily operations humming. Managing this content in the most effective way possible is, therefore, vital to business success.
An increasing proportion of enterprise content has shifted from paper into digital form. This, in turn, has changed the way that content is stored and used in workflows.
Increasingly, organisations are understanding that the ECM methods they have used in the past are no longer effective. Many are looking to make changes to their ECM systems to ensure they deliver maximum value in the year ahead.
The top five trends for ECM during 2017 are:
#1 Collaborate in the context of work: Within many organisations, there has been a disconnect between internal systems used to support workflows and cloud-based file sharing services. Employees are keen to use cloud-based document collaboration tools but they want to be able to do this within the context of their current activities. During 2017, there will be a closer alignment between the two categories that will drive significant business efficiency improvements.
While many organisations have already adopted cloud-based file sharing services, they will come to the realisation that these services alone do not improve workflows. They must also adopt tools that provide a link between such sharing resources and the workflows in which the content will be processed.
#2 More than an archive: Many business people tend to think of ECM systems as a simple storage archive for organisational content. While they are often used in this way, 2017 will see more attention placed on their value-adding capabilities.
For example, ECM systems can provide different views of stored content depending on the requirement of the user. Records can be displayed in one form for a financial officer and another for a front-desk agent. Rather than being a set of static records, the content thus becomes a resource that can deliver value to users in ways that best suit their function.
The trend will be particularly relevant to organisations adopting an omnichannel approach to customer interactions. ECM systems will be able to provide different views of customer data depending on the communication channel being used.
#3 Increasing mobility: The trend of staff opting to access enterprise content using mobile devices will continue to accelerate in the new year. As a result, businesses will need to ensure the user interfaces on their ECM systems are mobile friendly.
Staff will expect a similar experience whether they are accessing content on a personal computer, a tablet or a smartphone. They want the ability to readily access content in the context of their current work, from any location in which they happen to be working. Organisations must review their ECM system capabilities to ensure this can be delivered.
#4 Modernising core applications: For many organisations, digital transformation involves modernising the core applications that serve as the transactional backbones or operational processes. These include ERP applications, electronic records stores and sector-specific software such as insurance claim processing applications.
In 2017, organisations will regard having integrated ECM capabilities as a necessary part of modernising their mission-critical and business-critical applications. They will come to realise that data managed by core applications does not provide a complete picture of the business.
#5 Cloud App integration: During 2017, increasing numbers of organisations will shift their ECM and workflow applications onto a cloud-based platform. The reasons for this shift include lower operational costs and improved interconnections with other cloud applications such as the Salesforce CRM tool.
Organisations that do adopt the cloud in this way will also have to ensure their ECM system can remain tightly integrated with other on-premise applications. Failure to do this will result in many of the expected business benefits not being realised.
This year will be a period of ongoing change for organisations as they evolve the ways in which they manage their content. By ensuring the ECM systems they select match their requirements and support their workflows, they can expect to achieve significant business benefits during 2017.