How ECM Will Evolve in 2017

February 14, 2017


As I sit here to write this post, I’ve pulled up my favorite Jazz station from the Amazon Prime App on my laptop and I hear Frank Sinatra’s, “The Best is Yet to Come” – a favorite.

The best is yet to come, and won’t that be fine
You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine

These lyrics resonate with me as I formulate my predictions for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for 2017. We’ve had a great year in 2016 providing ECM solutions and services to our customers.  But, in 2017, we expect to bring greater growth and expansion for customers, employees and the industry.

Redefining the Meaning of ECM to Simply Content Services

Earlier this month, Gartner announced The Death of ECM and the Birth of Content Services in a blog post by Michael Woodbridge, killing off a market definition they had strongly supported over the years. AIIM, the originator of the term “ECM,” recently published one of their “Industry Watches” taking a look at this transformation. They noted in ECM-State of the Industry – 2016 that 38% of respondents agreed that there was a need for a new term when describing content management solutions. Why? According to AIIM analyst Thomas LaMonte, “… how we define ECM influences how we deploy solutions and strategize at a high level.”

In the past, ECM was considered the path to manage all unstructured content. Information and content could be categorized, tagged and stored so it could be accessed for collaboration and business processes could be automated from a single centralized repository. This suggests that a single repository / platform could meet the needs of the entire organization. The reality is the solution has not been that simple because of the large number of silos and line-of-business systems within an organization.

Organizations have multiple repositories with multiple content sources. Their stakeholders want quantifiable ROI and effective solutions to quickly address business problems. Thus, organizations need to ask themselves how they manage information and content regardless of the platform, process and applications in place.  Further, they have to be willing to empower the right people with the information and give them easy access.

ECM is not dead, in my opinion, but it is transforming itself with the introduction of new innovative strategies and technologies. Our job this year will be to help customers achieve their business objectives and content management initiatives by providing them with the best-in-breed technologies that address their business needs. As the speed of innovation becomes more time-sensitive and collaboration becomes more vital to business performance, I see our focus in 2017 growing and expanding. As consultants to our customers, we must help them reevaluate how they digitally engage with their customers, vendors and employees.

Digital Workplace

What exactly is the “digital workplace”? It depends on whom you ask. Gartner describes it as an ongoing, deliberate approach to delivering a more consumer-like computing environment that is better able to facilitate innovative, collaborative and flexible working practices. Put into simple terms: it’s a unified workplace where tech-based solutions and tools allow employees to be productive, creative and engaged at any time, in any place.

The latest buzzwords I hear floating around are “Digital Workplace” or “Workplace of the Future” and leading analysts are diligently working to define what these terms mean. There are lots of tweets and blogs about the Digital Workplace and it means many different things to many people. Many have suggested that it’s a silver bullet aimed at solving all today’s challenges with the IT needs of the enterprise. (Not unlike what we heard about ECM in the early 2000s.)

What we expect to see in 2017 is that practitioners and real-world implementations will ultimately define the best practices, successes and limitations of digital workplaces that manage unstructured content, information and data. With 80% or more of the average organization’s information managed as unstructured content, this area has been a critical yet unmanaged part of the equation for a successful digital workplace. Don’t fall for the rumors that ECM is dead. I see ECM transforming and finding a home within the Digital Workplace or Konica Minolta’s own Workplace of the Future™.

No Turning Back on the Cloud

In the past few years, we have seen an uptick in customers embracing and adopting ECM solutions that reside in the cloud. The barriers and challenges that existed have started to dissipate. A great example of this use case is a very large and progressive state in the Northeast that fully adopted ECM in the cloud. We are actively working with several agencies within that state in developing cloud services and solutions. We expect to see growth this year in the number of customers looking to leverage our expertise and guidance to help them achieve their goals and business objectives using ECM in the cloud.

Microsoft’s Continued Buildout of Office 365 and SharePoint Dominance

Finally, Microsoft has invested very heavily in the development of the Office 365 platform and SharePoint. These are reputed to provide approximately 60 percent of what users need and are looking for from an ECM solution. Microsoft is having tremendous success with Office 365, from both a market share perspective and a functionality perspective. Some of the analysts I speak to are saying that the value proposition of some of the “big ECM” providers is getting weaker and weaker with every passing month and quarter.

What does that mean for Konica Minolta? We have partnered with one of the best ECM solutions providers in the industry, Hyland Software. Their integration and synergetic approach with Microsoft gives our ECM Practice and our SharePoint team the ability to offer our customers the best-in-breed technologies that companies need. (If you haven’t taken a close look at what Office 365 is offering, I suggest you do. Microsoft has developed a sophisticated suite of tools for managing work and the content related to it. And upgrades and innovations are rolling out practically every other week.)

We expect to see more customers move toward implementing Office 365 and SharePoint with the help of Konica Minolta’s ECM SharePoint Practice and Microsoft’s FastTrack program.

By the end of 2017, I think that the transformation of ECM will be a redefinition of how it will serve an organization and I think the technologies available will be better defined by industry analysts. I suspect that a new de facto standard will emerge, bringing forth new growth. Everyone will win if they make the investment in technology and embrace collaboration, ease in communications, secure data and an enhanced corporate culture. The Workplace of the Future will have ECM elements deeply embedded in the foundation of a truly digital workplace, allowing us to streamline workflows, increase profitability and solve today’s business challenges while saving money.

Come See Us

Nintex InspireX, Feb. 13-15, New Orleans

Tom Castiglia, Microsoft/Nintex practice director, will discuss how to “Build a Customer Satisfaction Survey with Nintex Workflow Cloud & Salesforce.”  Olivia Stewart, senior SharePoint solutions architect/engineer, DocPoint Solutions, will speak on “Architecting Nintex Content Databases: What You  Don’t Know May Kill You.”

AIIM Conference, March 13-16, Orlando, FL

SharePoint Engage Phoenix, March 14-15, Phoenix, AZ

Joel Oleson, ECM business development director, will keynote “The Evolution of Enterprise Content Management and Future of SharePoint and Office 365.”

SharePoint Fest April 17-20, Washington D.C. Conference Center

Joel Oleson, ECM business development director, will discuss “Teams, Groups, SharePoint and Yammer … Oh My!”

Kofax Transform, April 23-26, Nashville, TN

QAI/DPS Annual User Conference, June 19-20, Washington D.C.

Square 9 Encompass, Oct. 10-12, Clearwater, FL

Ephesoft Innovate, Oct. 15-19, Irvine, CA  

Hugo Palacios
Director, Enterprise Content Management

Hugo Palacios is responsible for four key areas, Governance, Marketing, Key Strategies and Operational Control for the company’s ECM practice. He also supports Konica Minolta’s Global Transformation Initiatives and is a key contributor to our Global Managed Content Services and ECM Business strategies. In his spare time, Hugo devotes his weekends to driving, cheering and supporting his daughters, who compete in field hockey, lacrosse and basketball club sports.