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Where does ECM go from here?

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When it comes to understanding complex issues, remember the axiom: to get the right answers, ask the right questions.

For more than a year, AIIM, Forrester and Gartner have been debating the identity of the market for business software that used to be known as Enterprise Content Management (ECM). In fact, AIIM was one of the first to call for new terminology in 2016, pointing to disruptive technologies like mobile, cloud and social as factors changing content management. Since then, AIIM has rebranded itself as the Association for Intelligent Information Management.

To understand where ECM goes from here, the question is not, “What should ECM be called now?” Instead, let’s ask, “What are organizations doing with their content today?”

Across the IBM client base, organizations are connecting content to business systems to increase agility. They’re adding automation and robotics to accelerate business processes, building content into digital business applications to heighten customer engagement and integrating analytics and machine learning to gain insight from content, just like they would do with data.

Since business content such as documents, records, e-mail, audio and video have become essential within larger applications and projects, it makes sense that “ECM” as a stand-alone concept is waning. Both Forrester and Gartner have transformed their vision of ECM to “content services,” and there is a growing demand for easy-to-integrate content services from IBM clients as well.

In surveys and conversations with IBM customers in the past year, we see a convergence of content and process. Many organizations have blended their previously separate content, process and collaboration teams, and many of our users have seen the mention of “ECM” in their titles change to “Content, Process and Collaboration,” for example.

It’s no coincidence that IBM reorganized its ECM and Process divisions into a new business brand called Digital Business Automation, which we announced in January. By combining process and content capabilities into a single platform,  and tightly integrating capture, content, workflow, business rules and robotic process automation within a common user experience, we can now offer a broad set of capabilities that make it much easier for our customers to build digital business applications.

This gives us a sense for the new terminology, but it still doesn’t answer our question. For that, we’ll turn to AIIM again. In 2017, we surveyed the AIIM community. We asked people to list their top three requirements from a content management system. Here is how they responded.

 

Source: AIIM-IBM Survey 2017, “What Underpins the ECM Name Game?”

Two out of the top three focus on integration with other systems, while the third is about making content searchable and available to people who need it to do their jobs.  Of course, security and governance remain essential and multi-channel capture and cloud are key, as are consumability and mobile access, trends which have been steadily growing in recent years.

But where does ECM go from here?  ECM lives on as a set of best practices that connect content to the business, make content available to those who need it, protect and govern it just like data, offer rapid conversion of documents into usable data, with an improved experience that encompasses cloud and mobile deployments. These are the core values developed over time by content management professionals, and they will remain the guiding force for our product development and offerings, even as we focus on a larger market for Digital Business Automation.

Visit our webpage to explore how enterprise content management fits into the larger IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business, and see how improving operational processes can enable orgs to improve customer experiences and exceed their business operations goals.

 

WW Portfolio Marketing Manager, Enterprise Content Management

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