Stay Current and Advance Solution Delivery with ECM in the Cloud

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a hundred times.

On-premises enterprise content management (ECM) systems are treated as second-class citizens in corporations large and small. While other line-of-business systems are being upgraded and or replaced with new technologies, ECM systems are left to labor under outdated software versions, inadequate hardware, and inattentive IT support. There is often the mad scramble to get a minimal upgrade done by the end of the year, or whenever the outdated software version is due to run out of vendor support.

The result is that ECM environments face additional risk of failure, or that they just continue to underwhelm business users in their ability to provide or enhance business solutions. In many cases, this is surely justified. Mission-critical line-of-business systems and web and mobile applications are getting the lion’s share of investment capital.  For many firms, the ECM systems are not considered on the same tier of mission criticality as the others. Thus, they languish.

Enter cloud computing and ECM in the cloud.

How can running your ECM systems in the cloud address this problem?  By changing the model and leveraging the platform or services provided by the ECM provider, firms can shift the responsibility for maintenance of the platform and software levels from an internal IT resource to the provider. With the exception of an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model, the provider has responsibility for maintaining the hardware, operating system, and software package levels. The other models–Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as Managed Service providers–each take on this role and responsibility. And, let’s face it, they probably do a better job of it than you do.

Imagine the possibilities. No longer do you have to spend months in battling for funding and approval, planning, and executing, just to keep the platform afloat. Leave that to your service provider and concentrate your efforts on building or enhancing the services or integrated business solutions your business partners have been begging for.

If you haven’t started planning for ECM in the cloud, the time to start is now. Analyst firms such as Gartner and Forrester are predicting a significant shift to cloud-based and or hybrid cloud-based ECM solutions over the next few years. Vendors are rearchitecting solutions for cloud and hybrid cloud deployments, and Forrester research indicates that 50 percent of decision-makers will adopt hybrid cloud models for ECM of the coming years. Doculabs’ own research, conducted in late 2016, with ten of our clients in the insurance and financial services markets, indicates that all ten were engaged in some form of analysis or even migration of ECM platforms to the cloud. While none had yet completed a migration, there were at least two migrations in progress: one pursuing a full cloud-hosted solution, and the other addressing the storage tier in a hybrid solution by moving the data layer to the cloud.

We expect to see continued emphasis in cloud and hybrid cloud ECM deployments, as more than half the firms Doculabs surveyed indicated a “cloud-first” mandate for new IT investment or modernization. The drivers are straightforward: primarily cost and agility. Firms are looking to trade capital investment for operating expense and are looking to focus on core competencies and systems that provide competitive advantage.

Shifting the responsibility for maintaining your ECM platform to a service provider in the cloud can help to address both the capital expense and agility drivers.  So let’s stop worrying and spending time on maintaining our ECM platforms, and get down to the business we really should be in: providing integrated content solutions to our business partners and customers.

Rich Medina
Tom Roberts
I’m a Principal Consultant for Doculabs with more than 25 years experience, focused on delivering strategies that improve clients’ enterprise content management capabilities, with an emphasis on customer communications management strategies.