It’s been two years since Gartner declared enterprise content management (ECM) as dead, to be replaced by something the consulting firm described as ‘content services.’ Since that time, the systems we once called document management systems, that consultants dubbed “enterprise content management,’ under any name you choose, have continued to evolve and adapt to changing market needs and business dynamics.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a species, declared extinct, re-emerged. Nature—and technology—are in fact full of stories where the protagonist is declared extinct, only to later emerge and thrive.
In the case if ECM systems, their premature death was blamed on too many demands and expectations from a single system. Namely: 1. Regulatory compliance and risk management 2. Retention and access to business data and content 3. Process optimization and innovation
In many cases, these systems were relied upon and did a great job at the first two. But at the same time, many were cost justified based on a business case that assumed ongoing efficiency gains and impacts on costly, manual business processes.
Which is where many fell short—often because or cultural or process deficiencies as much as due to process gaps.
At the same time, our notion of ‘content’ has evolved greatly over time, which has strained the capabilities of ECM systems and challenged their role as the central repository and business engine for unstructured business data.
“Content” used to mean documents—Word files, PDFs spreadsheets, maybe CAD drawings. But when you look at all of the digital content that has led to an explosion of data in our world, it’s all sort of other digital assets that make up the bulk of that content. Emails (no surprise there), videos and audio files have been huge contributors to the supernova we’ve witnessed in terms of the volume of data in our world. Text messages and other data types we associate with mobile devices are another huge component.This point to three major problems that have stressed the concept and practicality of ECM systems:
“The future is here—it’s just not evenly distributed,” science fiction writer William Gibson famously said.
If you look around at how companies have successfully leveraged their document management/enterprise content management/content services platforms and applications to address these business challenges, there are some common themes.
First and foremost, companies can’t continue to rely on humans to monitor all the channels through which data and documents flow into and out of their organizations. Automation can monitor email inboxes, customer/partner/vendor portals, ftp sites, digital fax inboxes and any other source you can think of, and parse out the data, documents and actions that need to happen.
Secondly, relying on the keyboard and mouse as the conduit for data and documents to go from one system to another, or from one step in a process to another, is no longer workable. Intelligent data extraction tools can offload this from process owners so they can focus on the process itself and achieving desirable results.
Finally, as the analysts have suggested, there is no ONE system that can do it all. So the key is to ensure more flexible, adaptable and intelligent integration among the systems we rely on to manage, monitor and control data, documents and decisions.
The great news is that new solutions exist to target and resolve these fundamental issues. The market may not have settled on the final name for them, but intelligent process automation (IPA) platforms seem to fit the bill.
Platforms like Artsyl’s Transformation Platform are designed to interact with ECM and ERP systems to address all of the process bottlenecks and issues that have prevented past automation approaches to be cost effective and workable for most organizations.
The tackle the main obstacles described above, because they are:
Want to see what the future holds—and discover how to put a plan into action to help you get more out of your existing business systems?
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