Five ECM technology trends that can affect your ECM strategy

Find out the top enterprise content management (ECM) technology trends and how they could affect your ECM strategy in the short and long term.

Read about the top five enterprise content management (ECM) technology trends, including eDiscovery, green goals

and social networking, and how they could affect your ECM strategy in the short and long term.


Table of Contents

Enterprise content management overview: Understanding ECM systems
Five ECM technology trends that can affect your ECM strategy
Disjointed eDiscovery practices exposing companies to legal risk, rising costs
ECM strategy evolves from focus on acquisition to actualization
Expert advice for enterprise content management technology purchases


Enterprise content management (ECM) technology is trending toward a new era of innovation, driven by compliance, market demands and new requirements. Organizations are seeking new ways of leveraging the data and platforms they already have -- more often asking, "Can we do this with what we have?" Vendors are incorporating more functionality into platforms and taking knowledge from vertical industries to a broader audience. For example, electronic medical records (EMR) management is specific to healthcare, but it is driving development in other industries. EMR techniques have already appeared in legal as well as transportation and logistics industries and will soon affect enterprise ECM.

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When it comes to ECM today, there are five poles of attraction that account for a large portion of recent activity: electronic medical records (EMRs), eDiscovery, "going green," social networking, and new types of content. Understanding the impact and influence of these trends is essential to IT managers' ability to plan and keep ahead.

EMR driving new standards, sharing methodologies
The challenge in EMR has been HIPPA compliance and flow of content. Content can flow from doctor to doctor, from doctor to pharmacy, or even from doctor to lawyer. No matter where the documents go, the transport must be secure, compliant, and data unaltered. These two aspects of EMR oppose the rapid utilization of new technology. Owing to recent legislation, however, there has been a demand to have EMR sooner, as well as financial incentives to make it happen. Thus the drive to universal EMR has led to the creation of new standards and new methodologies for using technology, but maintaining compliance. These new standards and approaches to sharing data securely will quickly evolve into other markets.

eDiscovery inspiring more real-time monitoring functions
Similar to EMR, eDiscovery -- the collection and categorization of litigation-related content -- has been a popular topic for some time. eDiscovery could be called a combination of ECM and fine-tuned business intelligence (BI). Law firms with the latest and greatest eDiscovery technology have proven the value of being able to find the data essential to winning or dismissing a case. But rather than simply be deployed as part of a legal case, there is now a major shift to making eDiscovery a real-time or ongoing practice. Early case assessment and data mapping are the trends. Organizations want early warning signs of legal risk, and this is driving new approaches to near-real-time monitoring.

Green goals reinvigorate move toward less paper use
As is true with many technologies, this consumer trend also influences the business world. The social drive to reduce paper consumption and go "green" is at an all-time high. As it relates to ECM, the focus has shifted to reduction of paper and printing. A March 2009 study from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) showed 56% of companies studied reported a recent increase in paper usage. Ironically, this is often attributed to more digital documents and scanning. But that aside, "going green" remains a popular topic today -- driving companies to seek ways to tell the "green" story. For IT managers, this may be a good time to request funding for ECM projects – such as adding scanning to ECM systems or automating paper-dependent processes. It may also mean executive support for new creation of policies around printing, fax, and encouraging distribution of digital versus paper documents.

Social networking introduces new content types, lots of data
Brand new to the ECM scene is the need to manage social networking data, both internal and external. Internally, some companies have successfully deployed collaboration and social networking platforms. The best practices here are more established -- for example, content is often regularly deleted after its value is spent. But managing external social media and collaboration technologies is not very well established. There is much debate and discussion about what to do with social media content outside a company's firewall. As a result, companies have been implementing social media policies to eliminate the broad need to store and manage the data. The nature of social media is that "change is a constant," which forces ECM technologies to become more adaptable, while maintaining stability. This is good news for all ECM adopters. But the bottom line for IT managers is that understanding your organization's short- and long-term social media plans is critical for ECM planning.

Other new content types emerging
Social media is only one of the new content types companies must contend with. There are also new forms of multimedia, mobile content and other emerging file types -- and organizations want to store and utilize information in any digital format that exists. The storage part has been easier to achieve, but consumption of the newly stored content types is still a challenge. For example, there are limited tools to access and deliver rich media. But the good news is that increasing the functionality available for managing rich-media content may not be as challenging as it once was. Working with new content types in the past has meant purchasing multiple specialized ECM systems. Today, it often means planning ahead and tailoring a single system to accommodate the new types. The goal for IT managers should be not individually managing any one specific content type but having a platform that lets all content types coexist in one system.


Chris Riley, ECM expertAbout the author: Chris Riley is a recognized industry expert in document recognition, enterprise content management (ECM) and analytics technologies. Currently, Riley is senior ECM & document capture architect at ShareSquared, Inc.; he lives and breathes technology and has built his career on helping companies buy, use and optimize advanced technologies for their business. Riley has 12-plus years of experience in this arena; during that time, he has owned three software companies and received several technology and business awards. He has degrees in business administration, computer science and mathematics, and holds certifications from the ECM trade organization AIIM as an "Enterprise Content Management Practitioner (ECMp)" and "Information, Organization and Access Practitioner (IOAp)." Riley also is a sought-after speaker and educator throughout the content gathering and delivery space. He can be reached at Chris.Riley@sharesquared.com.


Table of Contents

Enterprise content management overview: Understanding ECM systems
Five ECM technology trends that can affect your ECM strategy
Disjointed eDiscovery practices exposing companies to legal risk, rising costs
ECM strategy evolves from focus on acquisition to actualization
Expert advice for enterprise content management technology purchases


 

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