Many enterprises began their digital transformation journey in 2017. This year, the trend will pick up the pace as more and more organizations decide to go completely paperless, completely on-line.
The key benefit that companies expect to gain from their digital transformation journey is increasing productivity through process and people analytics. Additional benefits include growing their internal knowledge bases and experience-sharing between employees and departments.
Let’s briefly take a look at how companies embraced digital transformation in 2017 and how we expect to see this trend continue in 2018 and beyond.
2017 ECM Market in Retrospect
From 2015 to 2016, the ECM market witnessed an 8% growth in global revenue, from $5.6 billion to $6.1 billion. This healthy market growth continued in the year of 2017 as well.
Mergers and acquisitions made some waves in the ECM world in 2017. Perhaps the greatest mergers and acquisitions news in the market was the completion of OpenText’s acquisition of Dell EMC’s Enterprise Content, including Documentum.
Another significant acquisition was Hyland, announcing its acquisition of the Perceptive ECM business unit of Lexmark International, which Hyland acquired in 2016. With the acquisition of the Perceptive unit, Hyland is expected to expand its global footprint.
In addition to these mergers and acquisitions events, 2017 was not short of innovation. Almost all of the major ECM vendors presented a set of new solutions for their content management platforms to aid their clients in tackling a vast range of enterprise problems from productivity to time-to-market.
For instance, OpenText created its new Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform by taking full advantage of text mining and semantic analysis, to aid enterprises in arranging unstructured and semi-structured data. This is applicable in areas such as ECM, data discovery, and customer experience. There are many immediate-use cases of this platform from human resources tasks, including employee self-service and retention, to fleet management (like inventory usage, marketing personalization, and vehicle maintenance).
Box also announced a growing relationship with Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence Services in its platform to add value for their clients, especially in providing actionable analytics.
Furthermore, M-files added more AI functionality to its system through a partnership with ABBYY, an AI, optical character recognition, and text-scanning software company.
Riding the wave of innovation, let’s not forget ArkCase. This emerging Case Management platform announced its Open Source Case Management launch last year, and there has been a lot of interest in this new Open Source version of ArkCase.
2017 Innovation Drivers
The examples listed above represent just a small portion of the innovation news that we saw in the ECM Market throughout 2017. As a theme, we’d say that AI was a trend that most vendors followed (Box, OpenText, M-Files). But there is ArkCase as a paradigm-shift-driven innovation leader.
The key takeaway here is to be aware of what has led ECM platforms to rethink the process of managing enterprise content. The main triggers behind these innovative tools were:
- As business pace and collaboration needed to accelerate, enterprises were having a hard time with managing and protecting the sensitive content (and enabling their teams to collaborate on the exact project in real time).
- Enterprises needed a solution that could easily categorize huge volumes of content faster than humans were able.
- The ongoing need for a flexible system that can easily adapt to new use cases and simple ways of modifying the system to match the legislative and workflow requirements of managing large amounts of data.
Any technology-related industry is expected to change quickly as innovation moves things forward. However, in 2017, the ECM industry went beyond just change. Gartner suggested replacing the term ECM with CS (Content Services). On the other hand, AIIM stated that there were five different technology branches dealing with the tasks of managing processes, information intersection, and people, and the ECM era was the most recent. The 6th era (still to be defined) appears to be dominated by MACC (Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, and Collaborative) technologies.
The need for obtaining the full potential of the AI enterprise created a domino effect where rising ECM platforms built stronger, more tightly integrated AI capabilities through acquisition (or by building the capabilities in-house).
The need for flexibility and affordable adaptability, on the other hand, paved the way for a paradigm-shift approach spearheaded by ArkCase. Its interpretation of how we can expect to see ECM evolve could turn into a new trend in the years to come.
ECM Market Expectations in 2018
With Q1 of 2018 finished, we can make some predictions/expectations for the remainder of 2018.
It seems we will not see major shifts in direction of the market. We are seeing a steady and confident move toward adopting digital transformation that is manifested in some key industry subsectors.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
Increased Reliance on Cloud
As businesses scale their reliance on digital technologies, we will see a continued, confident move toward cloud-based solutions or to cloud-hybrid solutions. Again ArkCase is a great example of how a cloud-based solution offers flexibility, scalability, and reliability, without facing a proportional increase in spending to gain these benefits. Their decision to move onto Amazon Web Services could set the trend for others to follow.
The whole idea behind moving ECM onto the Cloud is so that organizations can get a turnkey solution without worrying about infrastructure. These solutions are easy to scale, and companies end up paying for what they really need, not what complex contracts push them to pay.
ECM solutions will continue to improve their ability to quickly combining data.
As Cloud-based solutions have many use cases, companies that develop these applications have a steady stream of usability feedback.
This means that the resulting Analytics Dashboard has been honed and perfected by many people, providing the data you need in a format that’s easiest to understand and apply in your organization.
When it comes to intuitive analytics, more versatile ECM Platforms provide quick access to higher-quality analytics that you can easily apply in your organization.
We expect to see continued development from ECM providers to integrate with other business applications. Human resources, sales, accounting, etc., should not be isolated, departmental silos of the past. When it comes to various areas requiring the same documents, more integration options minimize the number of duplicate steps.
We will see a rising level of integration where a single ECM solution will be able to adjust to the needs of different departments. This flexibility will help organizations optimize their operations and get cross-department insights to further improve overall work of the organization.
Tablets and smartphones have changed the way we work. Just about every adult in our country has at least one smartphone which they use to do work-related activities.
Cloud-based ECM providers will continue adapting their applications and make them more mobile-friendly in 2018 and onward. As more people opt for a mixed work engagement, with considerable time working away from an office, ECM providers feel the pressure to go mobile.
Those who fail to keep up will be left behind. And those who’re already mobile-friendly will thrive.
To Wrap It Up
Organizations are under constant pressure to protect the sensitive content they have. They also need a fast and reliable solution that can categorize huge volumes of content. And, there’s the growing demand for a work-from-anywhere capability that will allow employees more freedom.
All these market demands encourage ECM platform providers to improve their solutions. We are witnessing this as ECM software gains stronger artificial intelligence capabilities, and becomes more mobile-friendly and cloud-based.
Back in 2017, ECM vendors presented a set of new content management solutions to aid their clients in tackling a vast range of enterprise problems.
In 2018, the digital transformation continues. The ECM vendors will continue adding more functionalities to their ECM platforms. Vendors will continue launching new software onto cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, with ArkCase leading the way.