Excavating excellence: ECM refined

Enterprise Content Management appears to be entering a new era of efficiency and capability, explains Mark du Toit, Solutions Advisor for Communication Genetics.

Mark du ToitLike politics and the economy, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions saw some interesting changes in 2016. Gartner updated its description of ECM, changing the meaning to one which more accurately defines the technology and its applications within the organisation, as well as its inclusion criteria. Then, MarketsandMarkets released a report on the size of the ECM market and the figures were more than a little impressive – a growth rate from $US28 billion in 2016 to an anticipated $US66 billion by 2021. While political uncertainty in the USA and UK is impacting on investment globally, and SA has its own fair share of economic tribulations to tangle with, ECM remains a solid investment and business tool. The only challenge is getting the business to get the most out of what ECM can offer.

For South African organisations, ECM can provide them with improved governance over key business processes, allowing for increased visibility and access to information. In fact, one of the primary criteria which Gartner has included in its ECM definition – and which has reduced the number of recognised vendors from 20 to 15 – is integration. With it, the organisation can make more informed decisions and ensure shorter time-to-value and time-to-decisions, especially if done in conjunction with a concise digitisation strategy.

Gartner has predicted that by 2018 half of the enterprises will be managing their content on hybrid systems with most leading ECM vendors placing their software into the cloud. Interestingly, it is cloud which is driving ECM adoption in South Africa as many organisations recognise its value and efficiency, especially in terms of regulation and compliance. Increases in regulation in South Africa should be driving demand for ECM systems as they provide significant advantages. Unfortunately, organisations are spending more time weighing up the costs vs the benefits of implementing an ECM system rather than implementing it, and the reality is that regulation is always portrayed as a lot of cost with little to no financial benefit.

Interestingly, most organisations are quick to recognise the value of ECM after they’ve been fined.

Finally, most companies are not eking out the full value of their ECM installations. Few companies are looking to how ECM can unlock further cost savings or revenue generating opportunities. Many are taking a ‘just enough’ approach which means the bare minimum is done to tick boxes, stay compliant and keep on top of the technology. However, there is ample opportunity for the organisation to delve into its ECM applications to build the business, enhance its engagement with customer and consumer, utilise the omnichannel and boost its global footprint.

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