Today’s ECM (Enterprise Content Management) systems do an excellent job of managing documents and some business processes that arise in most businesses. But what happens when underlying technologies change and by extension the types of information also change? These systems cannot meet the demands the newer technologies offer. Tomorrow’s ECM systems will effectively handle what today’s systems are not designed to deal with.
In the last two years, we have seen an increasing number of customer interactions take the form of digital conversations happening across a mix of online and mobile channels including the Web, social networks, and mobile apps. These are conversations which the customers drive with an easy access to information and a wide array of brands to choose from. New technologies such as mobile devices and tablets offer newer and significantly different methods for accessing and availing information. It’s no wonder then that all leading organizations are scrambling to find innovative ways to monitor, store, analyze and respond to these digital conversations in the new media.
Two key considerations are forcing the evolution of ECM technology. First – these conversations happen at lightning speed which makes them difficult to monitor and track; and second – they can have a spiraling effect on the overall brand image. An unpleasant comment/review can severely dent your brand image within hours if not minutes. This puts an enormous pressure on the Enterprise Content Management engines to not only track these pervasive conversations but also appropriately respond to them in a timely manner. Some communications could even pose legal implications. For example, the Dodd-Frank regulation makes it a mandate for all US government agencies to maintain records of information being exchanged on social media platforms and web pages. The ECM platforms must therefore evolve to account for this rapid exchange of information across social media platforms and over the web.
Another key trend that has impacted the evolution of ECM engines is the emergence and growing acceptance of cloud computing. Many of today’s ECM systems were designed in a two tier architecture and cannot easily be adapted to a cloud environment. Fewer still can operate in a hybrid cloud/premises scenario. Some of the core functions of ECM such as user collaboration, rights management and “anytime/anywhere” content access will now be governed over the cloud. That means there will be centralized content repositories shared across multiple stakeholders where enormous amount of data could be stored. Enterprises are also seeing many of their employees leverage the consumer-grade cloud-based content sharing tools (such as Dropbox and Box) for exchanging information.
The prevalence of Social Media and Cloud platforms will thus change the content management paradigm forever. Here are the 5 trends that have already begun to drive what is aptly called – the ECM of Tomorrow:
1. Content with Context
How many times has someone asked you a question and your immediate response has been. “What is the context?”
Businesses have come to realize that ‘Context’ is critical for making the right business decisions. It especially holds true in case of social conversations. Context can and does change meanings, twist emphasis, and enforce or undermine the priority of an action while monitoring these discussions.
This is precisely what the ECM of tomorrow is going to deliver – contextual, accurate and meaningful content, ensuring actionable intelligence that guide all business processes. For instance, modern day ECM platforms will conduct sentiment analysis of all social/offline conversations (Email exchanges etc.) to segregate positive, negative and random comments made by their customers. They will also determine the urgency of response and initiate processes accordingly. Sometimes, an auto-generated email suffices while there are times when a company representative has to take very specific action. This power of ECM will be unleashed at an unprecedented scale in the near future.
2. Hybrid ECM Implementations
Tomorrow’s ECM is going to be a hybrid ECM . The system will provide a progressive approach to manage, retain and leverage content across cloud and central content repositories. It permits files to be shared securely inside and outside of the firewall while delivering easy and transparent access across a number of user interfaces such as desktop, web, mobile application and portal. Most importantly, it tightly integrates with existing enterprise systems so the users can easily leverage the organization’s content assets and avoid information fragmentation.
On the back end, a hybrid ECM will require a unified content management strategy, allowing the organization to “mobilize” enterprise information, even as it eliminates silos and ensures compliance.
3. Big Data Analytics
Currently, ECM platforms are being used to analyze existing content against present and historical trends. With the cloud in the picture, the ECM platform will be able to support diverse and comprehensive data streams leading to more accurate and all-encompassing situational analytics. Complex Event Processing (CEP) can ensure real-time processing of unrelated events that together can have an impact on your business. For example, the political turmoil of a country can have an impact on its financial situation and as a financial institution you need to consider these factors while drafting your credit policy. Modern day ECMs will enable organizations to track, monitor and analyze these largely unrelated events to facilitate creation of an actionable plan of action.
4. A Media Rich ECM
Today enterprise content includes rich media i.e. information that exists in formats other than digital text or scanned images. This could include high definition and fast streaming audios and videos. With cloud based storage infrastructure and uniform standards of formatting compatible with industry standards, the modern day ECM will not only support but leverage these dynamic changes in content forms. Tomorrow’s ECM solutions will manage rich media much the same way that today’s systems manage images and documents.
5. Dynamic ECM as Process Initiator
Typically, ECM platforms have played a supporting role in the efficient execution of business processes. They have ensured that the users have the access to relevant content while making decisions throughout the process lifecycle. The combination of Dynamic Case Management systems and modern day ECM platforms will elevate the role of content within the process framework. Content will start acting as the initiator or catalyst for launching a business process. The content that flows into an ECM system will be used to kick-start a workflow, seamlessly without the user having to launch an application. For example, in case of social conversations brands will be able to take appropriate actions based on a thorough sentiment analysis.
To conclude, companies must be introspective to see if they are aligned with these changing trends. Failure to honestly examine this can affect survival in tomorrow’s fiercely competitive business environment.
The author is Sr. VP – Technology, Newgen Software
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