In Part-1 we covered the macro trends that are influencing the ECM market, along with the disruptive technology movements of Social, Mobile, Cloud and Big Data. Now we’re left with a question…so how must ECM evolve in light of all of this change? Or better yet, how should our view and approach to ECM evolve? You have to admit that we couldn’t be living in a more exciting time in hi-tech, than today. Where in the past there were one or maybe two major disruptive innovations that were shaping our market, now we’re almost being overwhelmed with multiple,major waves of innovation – all at the same time. Today Social collaboration, Mobility, Cloud computing, and Big Data are all poised to fundamentally change not our everyday lives but also the way business is done.
Given the speed and magnitude of these changes, it’s easy to see why organizations are struggling to deliver the next level of business performance and agility securely on the ground and in the cloud. At the same time IT is increasingly under the gun to find better ways to store, manage, deliver, and protect information regardless of it’s location. Across almost every industry the mantra is to create new vectors of growth, innovation, and competitive advantage, while at the same time insulating the organization from risk. In order to help solve this equation, ECM must extend in four key dimensions:
- Delighting the New User. To really drive adoption throughout the enterprise, ECM must first deliver rich, intuitive user experiences that make information access and use effortless. The experience must be seamless regardless of device being used, promoting true flexibility and mobility. The ease of accessing information should be the same as using my laptop at the office (or more often in a hotel room); my iPhone as I’m rushing to the airport; my iPad while on the plane (finally, United now has WiFi on their flights!); my iPod Touch when I’m walking around the house; or on the home PC (when the kids let me use it). As I traverse devices, the experience adapts to the technology I’m using (respecting the richness of the device), and provides all of basic facilities of content management easily and transparently – no fuss, no muss. Next, ECM must deliver greater value more quickly across the entire organization. To do this, it must support rapid application development and deployment through a design-center focused on configuration, not coding. This puts the power of ECM in the hands of more users, more quickly – while providing greater consistency and reduced complexity for these applications. In this way, ECM can be delivered without compromise – bringing together rich experience, functionality, security, and speed to value in an easily repeatable and consistent manner. Now ECM becomes “the rising tide that lifts all ships”, generating additive value for the organization, as each new department comes online.
- Being available On Demand. As mentioned earlier, IT is under intense pressure to reduce cost, simplify operations (by reducing the resource burden), and deploy applications faster – especially when it comes to meeting the demands of the New User. Moving ECM to the cloud enables organizations to effectively deliver a superior level of increased speed, agility, value, performance, and reduced cost – unlike never before. Instead of taking 3 to 6 months to deploy the ECM infrastructure (when you consider buying and securing hardware, network infrastructure, etc.), now it can be done anywhere from a few days to just a few hours. Providing ECM as a managed service provides even more gains for IT to reduce the resource cost and burden associated with software version upgrades, patch updates, and performance tuning – because it’s all managed by the service provider. This further frees up IT to focus on getting the right applications quickly in the hands of users – again delivering more value quickly across the organization. Now ECM can be delivered as fast and easy as it is to get apps off of the Apple App Store today. For more on what’s possible in this arena check out my recent blog, “Delivering Instant ECM – OnDemand”.
- Delivering Pervasive Governance. The information tsunami combined with increased regulation is putting incredible pressure on organizations to reduce risk. Information no longer rests just within the 4-walls of the organization; it’s extended out to remote employees, partners, contractors, and now SaaS-based applications. IT now faces the difficult challenge of balancing the benefits of the new choice computing model against the overriding corporate obligation to manage and protect information. These issues have fundamentally changed the compliance landscape, requiring a whole new approach to the problem – going well beyond the basic focus on the repository. This new approach, “Pervasive Governance”, essentially allows companies to understand, track, and control information regardless of its location. In this new arena, ECM must have the intelligence to hunt down information and understand its importance (and sensitivity)whether it resides in remote offices, file-shares, employee laptops, mobile devices, portable media or even in the cloud. In addition, it must allow the organization to easily re-classify security, delete information, and/or move content to safer location – all remotely.
- Enabling Next-Gen Business Transformation. The next level of business transformation will come from embedding social, advanced analytics (Big Data), and mobility directly into the fabric of business processes – yielding new levels of responsiveness, deeper interactions (with co-workers, customers, and suppliers), and better decisions. Businesses that best exploit these technologies will quickly and dramatically distance themselves from competitors. The combination of ECM (which contains a wealth of structured and unstructured information within the enterprise) with Big Data sources (outside the enterprise) gives organizations an unprecedented depth of knowledge and insight – enabling better decisions and the ability to predict future outcomes. Adding business process management and social engagement into this equation provides a dimension of value that has previously eluded organizations. Insights now become immediately actionable, essentially allowing business transformation to occur in real-time. Think about it…the ability to change business processes/workflows, decision frameworks, and/or develop new products and services – in a fraction of the time it takes today. These new patterns of work and decisioning can be captured and engrained within the very fabric of the organization and monitored to drive continuous improvement. This allows organizations to deliver unparalleled breakthroughs in agility, efficiency, security (risk reduction) and growth compared to their non-Big Data enabled competitors.
Making It Happen
We’ve experienced an unprecedented level of change in an incredibly short timeframe creating an environment which challenges organizations to not just improve but truly transform the way they do business. Similarly, our view of ECM must fundamentally change if we’re to make the “connected” and “predictive” enterprise a business reality. The technology is clearly there. Now it’s down to the organization’s innovative spirit, unwavering desire, and discipline to seize an entirely new level of growth and success.