October 28, 2014

Optimizing the Customer Experience: ECM Challenges in the Cloud

“The Cloud” has received a lot of attention in the past few years. It is one of today’s hottest buzzwords and has spawned a lexicon of xAAS derivatives and other new industry terms. And for years, the Cloud has been the focus for IT investment dollars.

However, the Cloud is not a cure-all. It is right for many applications, but not for all. Gartner’s 2013 report “Predicts 2014: Cloud Computing Affects All Aspects of IT” , highlighted the dual nature of the cloud this way:

“Many organizations are paying an "opportunity cost" by overestimating the risk inherent in certain forms of cloud computing. An equal number of organizations are taking unrecognized and inappropriately high levels of risk by placing sensitive data in cloud services that are not designed for it.”

There is opportunity for positive ROI with continued investment in the Cloud; however, Information Governance Risk must be factored in when the application involves sensitive data. Multiple surveys recently revealed a continued reluctance on the part of IT management to move sensitive data, such as that stored in large scale ECM repositories, into the Cloud. For example, a survey last year by Robert Half Technology showed that while the Cloud was viewed as a suitable platform for many applications (92% of the organizations surveyed used the Cloud for something), storage was the among the least adopted offerings at 14%.

Given that the reality that data, and the structures holding the data, are not migrating to the Cloud, isn’t it time to start re-evaluating whether the applications and tools that were installed to leverage our data have the features and functions needed to optimize the customer experience.? A recent white paper, “How to Meet the Output Requirements of Today’s Communication-Driven Enterprises,” looked at the issue and concluded that “In the end, even with the most advanced ECM systems, most companies suffer from lowered operational productivity and effectiveness due to this missing output functionality.”

In a Fierce Content Management article entitled “The Part of ECM Everyone Always Forgets: Document Output is as Important as Input,” Lisa Hoover McGreevy points out “It's easy to get sidetracked by shiny ECMs that promise to make light work of internal workflows or document management. It's also understandable that companies facing compliance deadlines and mountains of paper sometimes forget to look at the big picture.” She summarizes the title’s thesis when she says “The end result [of the lack of output management] is an inefficient and incomplete information management lifecycle.”

Fortunately this problem can be remedied both for existing and for ‘go forward’ deployments. There are output management tools that can extend and enhance the capabilities of ECM deployments from the major vendors. These can be co-deployed, and, more importantly, they can be easily added on after the ECM repository in place.

One of the easiest ways of doing this for IBM repositories is by integrating with IBM Content Navigator. A topic recently covered here on the Crawford blog (further reading here).

Crawford Technologies has found that many use cases involve instances where the distribution of documents needs to be automated. A simple illustrative scenario is case management. A collection of documents that spans multiple repositories is identified. The varying formats of documents reflects the complexity of the case. There are two ways the scenario can go: native/manual or automation with CrawfordTech's Riptide®.

With the native or manual scenario, the documents in each repository are put into a separate zip file using the native commands of the individual ECMs. Then, custom code would need to be written to unzip each zip file into the same temporary folder. After using the custom code to unzip the files, the end-user would manually distribute the collated contents out of the temporary folder to the intended destination as a case in an error prone, non-automated process.

With CrawfordTech's Riptide , the list of documents is simply passed via the RESTful API interface, and the CrawfordTech process automates the augmentation and distribution of the documents under the control of default and programmatic parameters passed with the list. Riptide retrieves the documents from the various repositories in their native formats and prepares them for distribution. It adds value by enhancing the individual documents (annotations, redaction, etc.) and the collation (sortation, table of contents, etc.) in ways that make the recipients more productive as they deal with the contents of the collation. As the recipients are either internal or external customers of the enterprise managing the content, the overall customer experience is also positively impacted.

Riptide® provides the ability to output content from Enterprise Content Management solutions. With Riptide®, it’s easy to collect and package the content, and then output in standard print and online delivery formats. The solution works with most enterprise ECM repositories and supports office, print and imaging file types. Output is multi-channel so it can be directed to multiple devices, in various formats, and for multiple delivery options – print, online, e-mail, fax, and much more.

If you would like to see Riptide in action, we invite you to contact us for a free demo.