ECM has provided an essential service to enterprises, helping them to better capture, organize and track massive quantities of content within their organizations.
Today’s more strategic IT departments are driving businesses to rethink how they approach content management and collaboration in the enterprise. A variety of factors including persistently tight IT budgets, lower headcount, business uncertainty, and unrelenting pressure to grow through innovation have made the advantages of cloud based ECM even more compelling.
Current ECM systems can be delivered in a cloud. Delivered over the web, these new solutions offer the usability of consumer tools and recognize the need for external sharing, all at a cost amenable to today’s IT budgets.
Cloud content management (CCM) is an emerging category that combines many of the core elements and content focus of ECM with the usability and ease of sharing so prominent in collaboration software. As its name implies, CCM brings the benefits of the cloud - low maintenance, elastic and scalable, with access to content anytime, anywhere, across devices.
CCM can fulfill the content management and collaboration needs of small to medium-sized businesses, in many cases bringing content management to companies previously unable to afford it and also provide a layer of value on top of ECM solutions already deployed by large enterprises.
The best CCM solutions have open platforms that allow for easy integration across the systems a company has already deployed, as well as connections into other cloud services such as Salesforce.com and Google Apps. This is particularly useful for those businesses that are considering a full move into cloud-based software. Small businesses are leading the way toward operating fully in the cloud, and even larger enterprises are beginning to see their security concerns addressed by large cloud vendors.
CCM solutions are using the advantages of web delivery to offer additional functionality above and beyond what ECM solutions provide. For example, CCM can make it easy to view any type of content in a Web browser without even owning the software application that it was created in. Gone are the days of being unable to view content you have received because you don’t have the latest version of Microsoft Office, or haven’t invested in Adobe Illustrator. Furthermore, open platforms make it possible to also edit much of this content.
This is still an emerging category in ECM, but there are immediate opportunities to improve how businesses engage with content, and a number of CCM companies are aspiring to address them.
Whether or not businesses are ready to fully embrace cloud solutions or maintain a hybrid approach with existing infrastructure, providing dynamic, flexible collaboration tools with CCM will enhance productivity and ultimately give IT departments more insight into their organizations.
There are several reasons that the cloud’s value proposition for ECM is particularly attractive:
Consume what you need
ECM implementations in a cloud are typically a series of projects over time, each requiring different capabilities on a different scale. On-premise ECM implementation requires to implement all capabilities at the same time. The cloud model, on the other hand, gives you the flexibility to just purchase the capabilities you need at the scale you need today and to then adjust your engagement over time as necessary.
Eliminating technical complexity
On- premise ECM implementations could be complex, requiring IT organizations to assemble software components, install and configure them, apply patches, write integration code, maintain operating system updates, continuously tune system parameters, maintain hardware and manage performance. The cloud model relieves the service consumer of the burdens associated with this complexity. As Gartner noted, cloud ECM "brings with it fewer costs for infrastructure hardware, software and management and less complexity in the applications layer."
Cloud ECM projects are much easier to get an approval from the company management since with on-premise ECM, upper management has to commit lots of money and human resources to a project up front whereas cloud ECM implementation does not require these resources.
Cloud ECM implementations typically take 24% of the time of similar on-premise projects. That rapid time-to benefit translates directly into the higher ROI that business managers want.
With budgets tight, the comparatively low cost of cloud-based ECM is extremely appealing to the business. Plus, CFOs have better visibility into and control over costs when they are explicitly itemized on a vendor contract.
Cloud ECM projects don’t require large outlays for uncertain results. And a variety of protections can be written into vendor contracts. For these and other reasons, the cloud fits well into today’s corporate risk mitigation strategies.
Cloud ECM implementation gives the business this flexibility, both in terms of right-sizing capacity and in terms of aligning ECM capabilities with changing business needs.
Cloud offers an undeniable business advantages. And the uptake that we are seeing in the marketplace proves that ECM buyers agree.