It's been 25 years since FileNet first made an appearance at the AIIM Conference and Exposition, and the ECM industry has undergone a marked evolution between then and now — the players have changed, technologies have matured, and adoption of ECM products is more widespread. John Mancini, president of AIIM — The Enterprise Content Management Association — takes a look at some of the recent trends in the ECM space and provides insight to enlighten business users looking to implement or upgrade ECM solutions of their own.
From your perspective, how pervasive is ECM in the business community?
It depends on your definition of pervasive. Certainly, it would be safe to say most Fortune 2000 organizations have some experience with document, content, and records management, but how widespread use of these technologies is throughout the enterprise remains in question.
I would raise the following questions for large organizations as they think about the "pervasiveness" of their ECM implementations: How widespread are basic document technologies in your organization? Is core ECM functionality available for the few or the masses? Have you even defined what this expected core functionality looks like and how you will price it? Have these core capabilities reached the average knowledge worker, or is deployment still limited to the heavy-lifting, document-intensive process worker? Have you tackled e-mail in any meaningful way?
Moreover, while most large organizations have some experience with ECM, the opposite is true of midsize businesses. AIIM defines the midsize market as organizations with between 100 and 1,000 employees, and Census data estimates there about 170,000 organizations of this size in the United States alone. AIIM recently conducted a survey that indicates a majority of these organizations have not yet even begun to deploy ECM technologies and aren't even fully aware of what the term "ECM" means! Needless to say, the midmarket will be where most ECM adoption and education will occur in the coming years.
What are some of the key trends affecting the ECM industry today?
1. The entry of Microsoft SharePoint as a serious player in the ECM infrastructure marketplace. If there is still anyone out there who doesn't view Microsoft as a serious player, I would like you to contact me immediately because I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I would like to sell you. If you currently use SharePoint, investigate how you can extend the ECM capabilities of this platform by adding complementary ECM technologies.
2. Many alternative delivery systems for document and content management capabilities continue to enter the market. For example, ECM SaaS (Software as a Service) options such as SpringCM, and Open Source ECM options such as Alfresco, have changed the ECM software consumption model. These alternatives can provide many SMBs with a lower cost of entry when being introduced to the monetary and productivity benefits ECM solutions can deliver.
3. Vendor consolidation in the ECM industry has been widespread over the past three to four years and has shown no signs of slowing down. Ultimately this trend should lead to tighter integration of various ECM components.
4. There has been a dramatic decline in the price point for core document management functionality, resulting in the explosion of the market in two directions — across large organizations and into the midsized market. From a cost vs. functionality perspective, this is the golden age of end users.
5. The ECM industry is experiencing a renaissance of data capture technologies. As the market expands into midsize organizations, there is untold untapped opportunity for organizations still reliant on paper to automate manual processes using these tools.
What does the future hold for ECM?
A lot. I think the changes we have seen in this marketplace over the past few years — both in terms of the composition of the vendor community and the scale of implementations within the user community — are just the tip of the iceberg. AIIM will focus on three things in the next few years to address this challenge: First, AIIM will deliver basic ECM 101 information to educate those who have not yet considered these technologies and draw them into our community. Second, AIIM will provide training based on best practices to reduce the implementation time line for organization. Finally, AIIM will help end users quantify their ECM successes and best practices so that future deployments need not start from square one when they decide to extend the solution throughout the enterprise.