ECM Trends in 2016: Simplicity, Mobility and Intelligence

Over the past decade, the enterprise content management (ECM) market has experienced strong growth largely driven by organizations continuing to transition away from paper-based document management practices, striving to automate manual-based processes and to comply with regulations and standards.

However, many industry analysts and pundits are projecting even stronger growth in the ECM segment in 2016 and beyond, which will be driven largely by emerging vendors with innovative yet simple-to-use solutions that are placing increasing pressure on legacy vendors with systems that are often viewed as complex and cumbersome.

We’ve talked to ECM users in small to large companies and in a wide range of industry segments about what they want in their solution in 2016 as well what will be the key areas for ECM to address in years to come, and here’s what they’ve told us:

  • Make it easy … but secure: As the popularity and adoption of file sharing and sync tools has grown, companies have become aware of the need to balance security and data protection against employee needs for a simple solution for sharing documents and collaborating with others outside of their organization.

  • Make it available anytime, anywhere: Today’s workforce is more dispersed and mobile than ever, and professionals demand access to business critical information at any time and from anywhere. The ability for users to leverage ECM apps on their mobile devices for accessing information and participating in workflows while out of the office is now becoming an expectation, not a “nice to have.”

  • Make it smart and personalized: Providing fast and precise access to structured data and unstructured content is good, but intelligently linking content and context is where the value of ECM begins to reveal itself. Linking information in structured data systems (CRM, ERP) to unstructured content repositories in an ECM system establishes relevance. For instance, a proposal is important to a certain ECM user because it is related to a customer that is assigned to the user in the CRM system. This integrated environment provides instant access to the most up-to-date information from any system.

Metadata-based ECM Systems Continue to Disrupt Complex, Old-School Solutions

Today, many organizations still rely on an antiquated file folder-based approach for storing and managing electronic documents. This poses several challenges and issues since there are many times when a document can logically be stored in more than one folder.

Traditional ECM systems replicate the file folder hierarchy for organizing and managing information, which forces users to figure out which folder a document resides in. In addition, the IT department typically must be involved in order to configure the ECM solution in order to meet the needs of its users, which places greater demands on the already over-burdened IT staff.

Furthermore, old-school ECM systems are complex and force users to change the way their work, and as a result, they suffer from low user adoption rates.

New-school ECM systems provide a metadata-based approach for organizing information by what it is versus where it’s stored. Organizations can simplify the ability to search, retrieve, process and archive documents, which in turn improves productivity, enhances employee collaboration and speeds up the decision making process.

This approach provides a vastly superior alternative to the traditional file folder-based approach by organizing and presenting content in “dynamic views” that are generated from metadata based on the context or need. In this way, a unique document can be found in different “locations” with no duplication of data, and each user can personalize their listings according to the context they work in.

Modern ECM solutions simplify access to information anytime and anywhere. With the added metadata-based intelligence, companies can ensure that the right content is in the right hands at the right time. This leads to better decisions, faster results, improved collaboration and the highest levels of security and compliance.