What do Doculabs consultants do in early December, when their flight back to O'Hare is delayed?
Answer: They sit around at the gate and trade ideas about where enterprise content management (ECM) is headed in the next year! That (among other things) is what Doculabs President James K. Watson and I did in this particular situation, and the following post presents the highlights from our discussion.
All things considered, we believe there will be changes: in both the vendors that supply ECM software solutions, and in how the organizations deploying those solutions approach the management of their content.
The Vendor Side of the Equation
From the vendor side, we see substantial growth of industry-specific cloud solutions, new pricing models, greater ECM involvement from IBM, and more specificity regarding OpenText’s plans for Documentum.
Here’s how we think ECM will evolve in 2018:
- Industry- and application-specific ECM cloud solutions. One relatively low-risk route to the cloud for organizations is via applications tailored to individual applications in specific industries. Some examples include MSDSonline (for material safety data sheet [MSDS] management and management of other safety-related content), RegEd (for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority [FINRA] registration and licensing), and Apttus (for contract management).
- New pricing models. The major ECM players will offer new pricing models for their solutions. Organizations will continue to forgo upfront licensing in favor of pay-for-use models—especially for those organizations that operate ECM both on-premise and in the cloud, as part of an incremental approach to going to the cloud.
- IBM cloud-based ECM offering. Big Blue will prove its cloud-based ECM offering and will (finally) gain a reasonable number of larger ECM clients. One caution: There are still concerns that IBM’s content business will be buried in the company’s overall analytics business unit and not get the degree of attention its ECM clients expect and deserve.
- Future roadmap for Documentum. We expect OpenText to get much more specific than it’s been to date about its plans for Documentum. It will publish a product roadmap, satisfying many in the Documentum customer base. But that roadmap may effectively “freeze” many organizations which will have to stay put with their Documentum solutions. (Those organizations not staying put will be interested in Joe Shepley’s “Planning a Documentum Exit Strategy.")
The Customer Side of the Equation
Also in this coming year, expect to see continued change within the ECM competency centers operated by organizations. We think these will be largely internal, customer-driven changes:
- Reassessment of content management capabilities. Many large enterprises will revisit the content management capabilities they operate behind client-facing portals. There will be a “bolts-up” movement to rebuild functionality to ensure more personalization and modularity.
Organizations now recognize that personalization is key to both cross-selling and to ensuring customer loyalty. Taking a modular approach to the development of content enables the re-use and repurposing of different “chunks” of content in many different contexts; it also facilitates any future changes made to content, as a change made to one individual piece of content can then propagate across any of the web pages or other materials that use that chunk of content. (For more on this topic, see my post, “Digital Transformation: The Content Modularization Problem” and Tom Roberts’s post on “Modularizing Your Content for Simplicity and Productivity.”)
- More digitization and automation initiatives. Organizations will also continue overall digitization efforts. And while the past was all about slick mobile apps being developed and released for the front end, we believe that many firms will begin to address middle- and back-office automation in 2018.
- Increased use of robotic process automation (RPA). Finally, more organizations will undertake robotics programs, as they look to develop more software systems to manage the repetitive tasks that capture and interpret data from existing applications. More firms will employ RPA technologies to process transactions, manipulate data, trigger automated responses, and manage overall communication with other digital systems. (For more on RPA, check out “Robotic Process Automation: Separating Fact from Fiction.”)
So there you have it. From our perspective, 2018 promises to be an exciting year in ECM, as we anticipate seeing incumbent vendors reinvesting in their offerings and keeping their existing customers from considering alternatives. And organizations will continue to find new efficiencies in how they maintain and support content-related applications and how they use ECM technologies to improve their content-related business processes.
And with respect to that last item in partcular, Doculabs stands ready to help. For more on how we can help your organization find those aforementioned efficiencies and use ECM to improve content-related business processes, check out our ECM consulting services--or contact us here.