Published On March 15, 2021Enterprise content management is a mess – at least at many companies.
The computerized record-keeping systems that organizations installed 15 years ago to store, access and protect information weren’t built to handle the volume and types of data they need today. Hidebound by the inflexibility and incompatibility with other business systems, and a limited content domain, these siloed solutions now hinder information access as much as help it.
The result, according to one survey, is that office workers spend an average of 250 hours – or 30 work days – each year searching for information spread across an average of nine mostly disconnected ECM systems.
This is going on against a backdrop of exponential information growth, an evermore restrictive regulatory climate and pressure from born-in-the-cloud competitors who have no legacy shackles.
Information is too important to the business to let aging technology prevent its effective use. Some organizations justify holding on to legacy ECM systems because they’ve invested so much in them. However, the same logic would have us still using vacuum tube TVs and rotary phones. The cost of staying with outdated technology is often far greater than the price of moving forward.
In the past, ECM was an application that was purpose-built from the ground up, difficult to modify and intended for standalone use. That technology has now been displaced by content services platforms (CSP). A platform differs from an application by providing a set of base services that can be built upon by others. Far from being a silo, a modern CSP is built to tie into any other system the organization uses or may adopt in the future.
Open and services-based architectures, easy-to-use development tools and application programming interfaces are transforming the integration story, making it easy for CSPs to be extended, enhanced and combined with other software, including legacy applications. This future-proofs them against obsolescence.
A CSP has many advantages over legacy ECM:
Cloud infrastructure now offers limitless scale and bottomless storage. CSP software can be deployed in containers that provide full portability between cloud and on-premises platforms.
Artificial intelligence is taking over mundane tasks like assigning metadata and even recommending taxonomy improvements. AI works at a scale and speed no human operators can match.
Instead of requiring users to navigate taxonomies or remember metatags, modern CSPs provide a familiar search engine-like interface for rapid information retrieval.
The new breed of low-code development tools empower business users to build applications in hours that used to require months of software engineering. Garner expects the low-code tools market to grow 23% this year.
APIs enable modern CSPs to connect to people’s preferred workflow, collaboration, business intelligence and analytical tools to minimize complexity and training needs. IT organizations don’t have to be custom software developers but can add functionality with a building block approach.
Works With Anything
Perhaps the greatest leap forward, though, is the ability of modern cloud content platforms to work with data types like photos, video, audio and even three-dimensional renderings. Machines can now “understand” these non-text sources and make them searchable and accessible.
Thanks to advances in image recognition and machine learning, CSPs can even unlock information in billions of historical paper documents. They can not only decode scanned images into words and numbers but even identify patterns that enable free-form text to be organized in structured database management and business intelligence systems.
Imagine the possibilities of CSPs in industries like financial services. Machine learning-enabled CSPs can now examine photos of auto wrecks and storm damage to determine fault and repair costs. Mortgage documents can be converted from paper to digital form for easy classification and retrieval for compliance purposes. Aging but necessary legacy mainframe systems can be equipped with user-friendly graphical front ends and delivered as mobile apps.
Transitioning from a legacy ECM system to a modern CSP doesn’t have to be traumatic. The new platform can be provisioned in the cloud and data migrated over time. The important thing is to commit to a modernization strategy that moves your organization along the path toward unified and comprehensive data visibility and access.