The 2006 AIIM Conference and Exposition is right around the corner. This is the time of year where most vendors in the industry pitch their latest products, services, and strategies to the masses. With this in mind, this is a good time to review some trends you’re likely to see at the show and how they may affect your ECM buying decisions throughout the year.
1. DISTRIBUTED CAPTURE WILL CONTINUE TO DRIVE THE SCANNING MARKET
According to InfoTrends Research Group, Inc., the document scanning market will experience a 54% compound growth rate in 2006. This growth will be spearheaded by workgroup scanner sales, which are expected to account for 80% of total scanner shipments this year.
The reason for the growth in this segment is twofold. First, the reduced price and improved performance of workgroup scanners are major contributors to document management’s push into the mainstream. SMBs that formerly couldn’t afford to implement imaging solutions now can, and this is leading to a surge in workgroup scanner sales. Second, organizations that may have already implemented centralized imaging systems are realizing the benefits that can be gained by adding workgroup scanners to the solution. By strategically placing workgroup scanners throughout departments or branches, a company can capture documents closer to their points of origin.
2. DATA EXTRACTION WILL GAIN POPULARITY
Over the past year and a half, companies such as AnyDoc Software, Captiva Software, Kofax, and ReadSoft have made huge strides in the field of automated unstructured data extraction. While concepts such as automatic document classification and the digital mailroom have generated a lot of interest in the market, these technologies haven’t been adopted en masse due to the infancy of the software and the implementation costs. However, these capture technologies are becoming more reliable, and businesses are beginning to identify the real ROI benefits that they offer. If your business processes involve a great deal of document preparation, sorting, and manual data entry, these technologies can significantly improve your productivity. Expect these technologies to generate more than just interest this year.
3. INDUSTRY CONSOLIDATION WILL CONTINUE
2005 marked another year of heavy consolidation in the ECM industry, with front end data capture player Captiva Software being acquired by EMC and Verity merging with Autonomy. Expect this trend to continue as customer demand shifts from point solutions for document management, records management, or Web content management to integrated ECM suites. To meet these demands, many larger vendors are acquiring companies that deliver complementary ECM technologies to provide customers with a complete suite of offerings under a single umbrella. These consolidated suites may make purchasing and integrating ECM technologies easier on your business, but they will also limit the number of independent vendor alternatives you have to choose from.
4. ECM WILL TAKE ITS PLACE IN THE SOA WORLD
SOA (service-oriented architecture) is a framework for designing and building IT networks and Web services that allows data and software code to be freely exchanged among heterogeneous systems. With SOA, the extensive programming typically necessary to share data between two separate platforms may be a thing of the past. As a result, some ECM software packages will emerge or reemerge as Web-based services that are easily compatible with SOA. If your organization is currently headed down the SOA path and looking to implement an ECM system, these new SOA-compatible software packages will help you quickly and cost-effectively share data with other applications on your network and with outside networks.