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Seven features ECM systems need for a better experience

As technology improves, ECM systems need to evolve with these seven capabilities in order to provide a better and more modern experience for today's users.

Adoption numbers for enterprise content management, or ECM, systems are on the rise as a result of a general push...

to centralize digital assets for enterprise users. More features have been introduced to several ECM systems throughout the marketplace. However, despite the maturity of these platforms today, there are still enhancements and capabilities that would further provide more value.

Since users are interacting with a bigger volume of information and the work environment has evolved over time, employees are spending more time in cloud-based systems and leveraging digital personal assistants. As a result, users are looking for a lot more out of their ECM systems.

Here are seven capabilities that are in high demand for ECM systems.

1.  Mobility is a must-have

The increased number of users on the move and those working remotely has pushed ECM vendors to prioritize mobility. It became obvious that having remote access is critical to users. The ability to retrieve, manipulate and interact effectively with enterprise content from a smartphone or mobile device is a must. But not all ECM systems have rolled out a robust mobile service. Even popular products like Microsoft had relied historically on third-party vendors to deliver a mobile experience for its ECM flagship product, SharePoint. Fortunately, the release of the SharePoint mobile app and the strong focus on mobility when it comes to SharePoint 2016 features were a clear indicator that mobility is a must-have.

2. Integrating with other systems

Another critical aspect of ECM systems is their ability to integrate and interact with other systems. With many of today's companies using several business applications that contain client information, financial details and vendor information, an ECM platform is expected to have the ability to reference information that is stored in other systems. All of these integrations enable improved automation and data classification when content must be associated with information stored within  line-of-business systems.

3. Analyzing captured data

Since it helps manage enterprise content, vendors like Microsoft aim high in enabling the delivery of reports and insights from data stored within its SharePoint platform. End users are able to use Power BI to build dashboards that can provide insights into what has been captured by the service. This provides end users with the ability to interact and report the data that is being managed by the ECM systems and treat the platform as a business service, rather than just a document repository.

4. Capturing data on mobile

InfoPath, OnBase forms and other systems all offer means to capture data based on business requirements. This capability has been popular in those products for good reasons. The technology is outdated, since most users are often using mobile devices to interact with the system and even opting to use them for data collection functions. As a result, there have been a number of vendors that made it their priority to offer differentiating features when it comes to data capture on mobile devices. OnBase Mobile, eCapture or Microsoft's PowerApps all offer a set of powerful services to capture data from mobile devices.

5. Cloud-based applications

Cloud-based applications have gained significant popularity with enterprise users due to a number of factors, including access to data anywhere and anytime, scalability, resiliency, no major hardware or software requirements and low cost of entry. As a result, many users expect an ECM platform to offer the same options and flexibility as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

6. Updated workflows

Workflows in many ECM systems have done exceptionally well in automating some of the manual and tedious business processes that companies face, but they are limited in the data sources with which they are able to connect and interact. Historically, workflows have concentrated on processing events triggered by actions within the ECM system itself, but modern users are also working and interacting with social media and SaaS-based tools. This means updated workflows must incorporate those elements. Microsoft Flow does address some of those requirements, and it successfully delivers automation that goes beyond the ECM itself when it is able to interact and react to changes in service's media feeds.

7. Built-in intelligence

Enterprise users have been exposed to technology that notifies them when they need to leave for a meeting to avoid traffic, so ECM systems need to offer similar intuitive technology. Jeff Teper, corporate vice president at Microsoft, has mentioned the relevance of software assembling pertinent documents for the user so they don't have to. This highlights the focus Microsoft has on incorporating intelligence into the SharePoint platform.   Users should receive feedback from the ECM service on what document they are likely going to need or should consider reviewing. This feature would be the result of the platform leveraging machine learning and other analytics capabilities.

Since news came out earlier this year on the upcoming release of SharePoint-native mobile apps, many administrators were breathing a sigh of relief that ECM systems are starting to incorporate new necessary features that will enhance the enterprise experience.

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