Working on records and documents takes up nearly two thirds of an average worker’s day, requiring companies to use Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems to deal with the sheer volume of content. Such tools allow organizations to coordinate all of their documentation in one single, unified place.
Many of today’s businesses have moved towards cloud-based solutions in recent years, whether for remote device management, storage, or data processing. Key benefits such as speed, efficiency, and security have spearheaded the rise of the cloud in the area of content management.
The transition from traditional ECM models to a cloud-based equivalent looks sure to be a major trend in the near future.
ECM has improved continuously over the years, retaining the key features of the basic model of a complex suite of technologies based on the business premises which have made it a hit. Business owners have at times felt overwhelmed by the number of technical features, particularly as organizations have had to incorporate more than one ECM, and sometimes even one per department. Clustering multiple layers of software in one location has proven to be challenging for IT departments.
This helps explain the rapid transition towards cloud platforms we are currently seeing. More and more businesses are choosing cloud services or hybrid options to help them handle huge volumes of data using the most cost efficient and simple method, as a study by AIIM shows. Hybrid models do carry risks though, such as the location of information storage, depreciation of investments on hardware products on site, and the transition itself, which if it is done in a quick way can result in high costs and complications, particularly if infrastructure is not yet ready for the move.
The inherent problems associated with ECM led Gartner to consider how technology might move to the cloud in the digital age. The research company came up with a new concept—Content Services—which would be cloud-enabled, flexible, and dynamic. Rather than accepting a stand-alone system, companies would design their own bespoke versions.
The terminology is less important than the realization that the business environment is changing, and companies are finding it increasingly difficult to manage this volume of content and data from a plethora of devices in the age of digital transformation. Research supports Gartner’s view that premises-based ECM is being replaced to some extent.
A survey of 231 businesses by AIIM earlier this year demonstrated high levels of desire for change in their content management. Only 15% of respondents said they intended to move towards an on-premises solution, whereas a third had chosen a cloud-based solution, and a further 51% were developing a hybrid solution, combining on-premises content management with cloud services. The hybrid approach is understandable when you consider how much money has been spent over the years on legacy solutions. Hybrid CMSs can be an effective temporary solution whilst more content services move to the cloud. The growing enthusiasm for cloud-based content management led the research organization MarketsandMarkets to predict that the cloud-based Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market size would grow from US$9.77 billion in 2017 to US$34.42 billion by 2022.
One of the driving ideas behind the implementation of legacy ECMSs was to put content online, where it could be accessed more easily than on paper. But with the cloud, content is even more readily available. Workers in remote locations, including in different time zones, can collaborate easily by accessing documents in the cloud anywhere in the world from multiple devices.
In addition, the cloud can offer a far greater scale, and additional storage is available whenever a company needs to expand.
Armedia argues that unlike in-house ECM, “cloud providers often offer better SLAs about security, availability, and performance.” This higher level of security for confidential and security information is absolutely vital at a time when data security continues to face fierce scrutiny.
By establishing your content management in the cloud, budgets are liberated from the constraints of heavy investments in on-premise technology hardware. The IT department spends less money on the up-front costs of ECM, and they don’t have to waste time with ongoing maintenance. As a result, IT professionals can focus on doing more innovative work to modernize the user experience, such as developing custom user interfaces and new apps.
IT is not the only department to benefit from cloud-based storage. The cloud makes it easier to automate the technologies required for accounts payable, contract management, correspondence management, and invoice processing. Content management in the cloud allows everything from inventories to service contracts to be collected in one place and shared with authorized employees. It facilitates communication between various company departments, such as legal, human resources, and finance.
There are already some innovative examples of cloud-based content services which are exciting users with their ability to take advantage of the services’ flexibility. Rather than purchasing off-the-shelf systems that are simply designed to manage content, they can more easily integrate content management and business processes. IBM has said that many organizations are combining their previously separate content and process and collaboration functions in the cloud.
Some firms also believe that the next step for cloud technology development will be the use of robotics and AI to gain useful business insights from the stored content, as they would from big data.
In the meantime, the cloud will continue to gather momentum as a hugely advantageous solution to traditional content management pains.