Next Generation Enterprise Content Management Systems - a Roundtable Discussion

What does the future look like for our enterprise clients seeking to modernize their content management capabilities? Doculabs hosted a virtual roundtable in mid-July for approximately 10 clients to discuss their future directions, trade ideas for accelerating pace, and provide opinions on supplier offerings in the market. Here’s what clients are seeking:

  • Greater agility
  • Lower cost
  • Richer metadata and analytics
  • A simpler approach to information governance

Greater Agility

Getting applications up and running quickly is key. This includes connecting content repositories to other line of business applications. This means improved integration options – more configuration than build; for example, connecting to Salesforce, Workday, or Appian.

Lower Cost

Stubbornly, ECM systems have remained over $1,000 per user per year, all in. In light of this, most clients are exploring cloud options. Inexpensive storage like Amazon’s AWS or SaaS offerings like Box offer lower cost of ownership. Yet, often the transition and migration costs to get to these modern platforms eat up the savings in the short-term.

Richer Metadata and Analytical Capabilities

With so much content, it’s time to develop insights from the data housed in content repositories. Whether that means extracting data from documents upon ingestion, or discovering data within historical artifacts, new and emerging applications require richer metadata and full text renditions.

A Simpler Approach to Information Governance

The ability to enable basic records management functionality is expensive – both in terms of cost to enable applications for records management (particularly records with event-based retention triggers), and in many cases, in terms of user time and effort. Now, add concerns about over-retention of personal information, and you realize that information governance is more important than ever. What can be done to lower the cost of implementing these crucial capabilities? Most of the participants agreed that just focusing on the basics can keep both cost and implementation timelines reasonable. The basics here include simplifying the retention schedule with bigger retention buckets and fewer complex event-based triggers, and moving records into fewer, managed repositories.

The Pace and Path to the Cloud Varies – But is Inevitable

And of course, at many points the conversation led to sharing experiences with deployments in the cloud – some of which are outside what’s offered by traditional ECM vendors. One large financial services participant is using Amazon S3 for notifications and text, while using open-source search from Elastic Search and Kibana’s visualization capabilities for searching the S3 repository. Another example is a large insurance company participant that’s using Amazon’s AWS and Textract capture capabilities to store invoices.

All of the participants have some forms of content management system deployed in the cloud – either in pilot mode or full-blown production. But the complete transition is going to take years, given that the number of different content repositories and the age of many of the systems makes direct ports to the cloud problematic. But make no mistake, the cloud applications and deployments offer a broad array of capabilities to address the business objectives listed above.


The path to next-gen ECM isn’t straightforward. Thankfully those enterprises who are in the trenches doing it have important lessons to share. If you’re a strategic ECM practitioner, reach out and let us know. We’ll invite you to the conversation.

Download the ECM in the Cloud Preparation Checklist

Rich Medina
James Watson
I’m President and co-founder of Doculabs, serving as executive sponsor on consulting engagements for financial services clients.