ECM : State of the industry

28 05 2010

I have just been going through some of my “Friday” reading, and cam across a couple of articles that look at the May AIIM report called, “State of the ECM Industry 2010”. For a look at one of the articles, visit and read Dick Weisinger quick review of the AIIM report.

Reading this got me thinking a lot more about the actual state of ECM and the businesses that use it, or who should be adopting it.

Drivers behind implementing ECM

There are numerous business drivers for ECM, and I have posted about savings and business drivers on this subject a number of times ( I have a series of posts on True ECM Savings which highlight many business drivers). But what were the “highlights” from the AIIM report.

Apparently the biggest reason to adopt ECM is to optimise business processes, which for me shows the link between ECM and BPM growing stronger and stronger. I no longer see ECM as separate to BPM, rather see the two as a single entity. It is also worth noting that this business driver was with a ratio of 2:1 when compared to compliance…Which is interesting and I believe shows the state of the economy and its impact on business thinking and drivers for investment…

Compliance came in as the second biggest driver for adopting ECM, and this is no surprise. Litigation, regulatory demands, financial reporting, audits and of course fines for non compliance means businesses have to take control of their content in a big way, and the only real way of doing this is by implementing good ECM and BPM practices.

Backing up these two main reasons as that 60% of new adopters cite “Content Chaos” as a business driver in its own right. This is in some ways a pre-cursor to driving for greater efficiency, but does highlight just how problematic varying forms of content can cause businesses, especially as they grow.

Finally, 37% cite “Green IT” benefits of ECM as a driver. Again this shows the state of the economy, not just thinking of the green benefits in the longer term, but how being “Green” can actual make real monetary savings  across any organisation.

The Sharepoint factor

Microsoft Sharepoint gets its own special mention in the report, mainly because it is the new mover so too speak in ECM, though I don’t see this as a pure ECM solution, simply because it lacks so many ECM type functions (again this is something I have posted about in the past). However, it does show that sharepoint has reduced the barriers to entry for ECM, especially at a departmental level.  Apparently 32% of companies have implemented Sharepoint in some way. It is also worth noting that only 11% of these though use SharePoint exclusively as their only ECM solution, probably due to its short comings as an outright ECM platform…

Cloud computing and SaaS

Now this is an interesting area, especially when looking at the barriers to entry into ECM and why SharePoint has seen such massive growth at the departmental level. SaaS really does provide even fewer restrictions to organisations wishing to use ECM, especially at the departmental level. So does this mean with the trend of SaaS that we will see SharePoint face stiff competition at the departmental level of implementations? My own feeling is yes….I have myself already been in talks with organisations that are looking for quick SaaS based solutions, rather than opting for SharePoint.

Apparently in the next 18months the number of companies using SaaS for Document Management (DM) will double to 12% and the number for Records management triple to 6%. I am a little more sceptical about this, especially with Compliance being the second biggest driver for adopting ECM. There are many issues with SaaS, cloud computing and compliance which means for many uses of ECM, SaaS and the cloud will face many issues….However, if you think of smaller uses of ECM at the departmental level, then yes, I can see a massive growth in the use of SaaS for some ECM type functions. Please note some…..

SaaS provides a real quick implementation of areas of ECM. However, it is very restrictive, not just by potential compliancy issues, but also by application integration barriers. If the biggest driver for ECM is business optimisation of processes, then these businesses will be looking to integrate their ECM platform with many other applications within the organisation. Doing this means, you won’t be looking to Cloud Computing or SaaS, as this really does and will limit the potential of integration and therefore the effects ECM can have on business process optimisation. So when looking at the figures in the AIIM report, you have to think of ECM in different ways, with various requirements and regulations….

Open Source

This is a surprise to me, with more organisations looking to open source based solutions. I myself am not a lover of open source solutions, I have always argued that they can never deliver the real security needed for business, and I stand by this. In addition, their cost savings are never as great as initially thought, and there are real concerns with ongoing maintenance and product road-maps. Apparently though, this won’t stop 9% of organisations using open source solution by 2012 (I am not so sure…)

The enterprise 2.0 and Social Media

Though organisations want to be seen as “Enterprise 2.0” many don’t know what this is, or have any idea how to actually go about implementing this lovely idea. Social Media technologies, well their use, is on the up within businesses, you need only look at how many organisations use Twitter and blogging tools on the web. These are key tools to an organisations marketing, communications and PR, however for many they are overlooked as actual organisational content, which is wrong.

29% of respondents view enterprise 2.0 as signification to their organisations business goals, looking at such things as knowledge sharing, collaboration and coordination, making ECM a core technology for them. However, there is a down side to Social media, and that is the negative impact it can have on productivity, with, unfortunately, many employees wasting more time on these websites than actually doing work. The only surprise knowing this, is that only 45% of companies bar access to Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and instant messaging.

A good illustration of the lack of understanding that social media interaction is still organisational content, is that 80% of companies that use Twitter and blogs, do not archive the data, nor have real access to the data from their internal systems (ECM or others).

Last word….

All in all the industry looks set to grow, and there are many newish areas in which ECM can bring new benefits to organisations, social media being the most obvious. However, there are areas where things don’t add up in the AIIM report, the growth of SaaS compared to the quest for full compliance being just one area. In addition, I haven’t read anything about mobile based ECM and the need to access repositories and content across multiple devices, something I feel will become increasingly important in the next 24 months, perhaps more so than SaaS…

No matter what, the next 24 months will be interesting within the ECM market, with lots of new drivers and solutions bubbling to the surface I am sure…

True ECM savings…#2

28 05 2009

So this is part two if you like in my look at savings ECM solutions can bring to your organisation. In my first post I looked at costs associated with a number of typical tasks, such as filing documents, locating them etc. In this post I want to look at issues with replication of documents within an organisation and some green credentials of ECM.

Typical replication costs

How many times does a particular document get printed out? According to statistics this happens on average 19 times per document! Now that’s a lot. Let’s think of some quick costs associated with that:

  1. Physical paper
  2. Printer toner
  3. Moving physical paper around the world
  4. Environment
  5. Security

Physical paper costs, well if you are printing the same 10 page document 19 times, that cost starts to add up. Now let’s say you store in excess of 100,000 documents, each with just 2 pages (I know, many documents will have a lot more than 2 pages). That’s some 200,000 pieces of paper. What’s that physical paper cost alone to your organisation?

So, how much toner are you using if you are printing on some 200,000 pieces of paper, just for document duplication? Again, that’s not cheap.

It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of this document printing comes around internally within the organisation. It’s not a by product of scanning correspondence from customers for example. More than 80% of documents printed in offices come from digital environments, such as Microsoft Word. This is an awful fact, something that ECM solutions can remove.

Let’s start thinking about costs regarding moving that paper around. Just think if you had to move only a third of that paper we were duplicating, so that’s some 66,666 pieces of paper. How much would it cost you to physically move that around? How much to post that for example? With postage you can see a real actual cost associated, but what about the cost you have to pay for people in your organisation to move it around. How much is that in time, and as a proportion of salary?

Now we come to something that is hard to measure, the environmental cost. All this cutting down of trees for paper alone is a pretty big impact. It is estimated that 768 million trees are cut down each year for paper production alone! Now how much energy is used turning those 768 million trees into paper and what’s the carbon footprint of that alone? This “footprint” continues to grow when you look at your toner and the fuel associated to move that paper around the world.

What about the security cost of that paper? Document security is always something in the background when talking about physical paper. Why? With physical paper you are so much more vulnerable to content being read when it shouldn’t, content being lost or shared when it shouldn’t. What cost can you place on particular documents and their content? One obvious cost is that of not meeting compliance for your industry. But what cost could it have to your organisations if that document content was shared when it shouldn’t be?

The ECM savings…

This will be simple. If you store documents electronically, in an ECM solution, and then share and distribute them electronically, almost all of the costs above are removed from your organisation. You can enforce these savings by limiting who can print what content. This may sound “harsh” but often users are used to just printing files to read them, then bin them. This isn’t a good practice and is expensive to your organisation.

Not only are there lots of savings to be made, remember that these savings automatically promote efficiency gains and additional productivity. With an ECM solution, your users can quickly access the documents all of the time.

When we look at document security, there is a wealth of security features available with all ECM offerings. Though these savings may not be as easy to calculate, they are none the less there.


Quick conclusion

You can make massive cost savings by simply removing paper replication, and while making these savings you promote increased efficiency and productivity throughout your organisation.

Finally, a massive reduction for your organisation and in general is that made to your organisations carbon footprint. By removing the dependency on physical paper and the associated costs (such as trees being felled, fuel to move trees and turn them into paper, fuel to move physical paper etc) you drastically reduce your carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

FIA, F1 and going green?

21 05 2009

Sorry, this isn’t my usual look into IT technology, trends etc but a post about two things that I am passionate about, motor racing and green technologies.

At present the teams within formula 1 are battling it out (in the court room as well as in the press) with regards to next season’s idea of capping the amount of money each team can spend on developing their car. Now I understand why they want to do this, as the FIA and the sport do need to see more competitive racing and independents racing against the big manufacturers, such as Ferrari, Renault and Toyota. However, F1, unlike other racing formulas, is all about pushing the engineering and mechanical boundaries; pushing technology on and having this technology working its way down to us, sitting in our day to day cars.

There are numerous technologies that we find on ever car today that have their roots in F1, some more popular than others, such as semi-automatic gearboxes (flappy paddles to change gears). So with this in mind, why hasn’t F1 looked at the big issue of the environment? Surely, if we need to develop green, environmental cars that perform well, this is the best place to do it.

F1, could it be green?

Every 4-5 years it seems, F1 has a major shakeup of its rules with regards to how the cars can be built, specifications etc. This 2009 season is an example of such a year. When this happens, I am always amazed just how quickly F1 teams manage to get cars up to speeds, and performance levels close to that of the year before. It’s testament to the designers, engineers and technicians at each team.

Only today I was reading an article about Warwick University in collaboration with Lola and others, building and delivering a GP3 car, which brings unbelievable green credentials to the table, not just for motor racing, but as a day to day car! It’s built using recycled carbon fibre, potatoes, carrots and runs on chocolate waste and vegetable oil. It also converts ozone in its radiators to oxygen! See, very very green. Also, don’t think that this car won’t be safe; it meets all GP3 regulations with the exception of using a bio fuel which is currently not permitted in GP3. I won’t go into any more detail, just simply follow this link, have a read and watch the video.

So why oh why, if a university with Lola can produce a competitive green car, can an F1 team not? It’s simple…An F1 team could and would if the rules incorporated such thinking…

Why not, forget budget capping, and bring in a radical shake up which puts all the teams on an even playing field. Why not make F1 a green formula. Let the designs free on using turbos, skirts, lots of banned aerodynamics etc, but ensure their car is made in a sustainable fashion and their engines are environmentally friendly running on either a bio fuel or something else that is environment friendly….I’m sure the racing will be great, and I’m sure the performance of the cars will not suffer too much. But more importantly, I’m sure we would soon see large manufacturers putting in place such technologies in our day to day cars!


What do you think???

Would be interested to know what others think of this…Drop a comment…