September 26, 2018

Promises Broken, Promise Kept

Harvey Gross | Vice President, Product Management
enterprise content management webinars

For years, the promise of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems was that business content of any type could be stored in one monolithic repository and would be available to any authorized party with the right credentials. For a variety of reasons, this ideal was never reached.

ECM systems designed and built in the last century are not suited to store the content of today. Some systems were designed for content created by scanning paper documents, some were designed primarily for collaboration, while others were designed for document-centric workflow and case management. Others, like the original Integrated Document Archive and Retrieval Systems (IDARS) were designed for billions of computer-generated reports, invoices, bills and statements.

The document and object types and the purposes for which the documents and object types were created are just too different to be stored and managed in a single consolidated system. So, the long-sought after promise was never realized.  In most enterprises, there are multiple disconnected silos containing billions of objects with information relating to vendors, business partners, customers, buying patterns, etc. Consolidating all this information, in one place, for common access is the broken promise of the ECM of the past.

That was the ECM of the past! In fact, Gartner announced the death of ECM. In reality, the report of its death is an exaggeration. It isn’t dead – it’s changed. More correctly termed Content Services, the new method is not to undertake the somewhat thankless task of trying to get all the varied content into one place.

A better option might be to leave the documents and objects where they currently reside and federate access to the information though the use of a common user interface and/or direct line of business application access using the newer micro-services integrations. New technology, web services and the accelerating adoption of cloud services make this possible.

Any conversation about content has to include the cloud conversation. The need for enterprises to accelerate business application movement and associated processes is driving companies toward the cloud. Having a significant amount of content stored in multiple, on-premise applications can make it harder to deploy a new ECM application. However, increased integration and the ability to offer both cloud and on-premise options are making it easier to migrate off of an existing content repository, and in many cases, integrate with them.

ECM may not be dead but content management and content delivery needs to be thought of differently. The explosion of mobile devices has powered digital transformation but has also put pressure on enterprises to go beyond traditional Content Management. As more devices have come online - displays in stores, offices, and cars, businesses need to think outside the traditional, browser-based customer experience. With more customers using mobile phones and tablets over laptops, having a mobile-responsive site is a must-have part of the equation that applies to the display of bills, invoices and statements as well as the web site itself.

Additionally, enterprises not only need to ramp up their abilities to deliver content to any device, but they also need to make content accessible and responsive from mobile applications. Making the overall customer experience a positive one is a critical customer-centric strategy. In the new digital world, it is all about streamlining the digital experience for the customer, finally keeping the promise of the right content, at the right time, in the right format.

Learn more from our white paper – Content Services and the Death of ECM.