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Exploring the New ECM

We've addressed enterprise content management many times and many ways in these pages. But it's amazing to me how there's always something new to say.

I put together a little panel to tell me about what's new and different in the ECM marketspace. Joining me were Theresa Kollath, VP of information management for ASG; Kimberly Edwards, product marketing manager (focused on customer experience management, she tells me) for OpenText; and Liz Kofsky, ECM product marketing director, also for OpenText.

I decided to guide the conversation gently, and below are pretty much the takeaways... in their words: 

Theresa Kollath: "One of the new things, and it is hitting in Europe first, is the General Data Protection Regulation, (GDPR) which is going before the European Commission and the EU soon. It will create sweeping changes for doing business, not only in the EU but for any organization that has even a single person who resides in the member states.

"I've said before that there will be a compelling event that causes people to change the way they do business. This GDPR may be that event, and it's huge and scary." She's right. According to the European Commission, this act will apply to any organization, anywhere, that "the regulation applies if the data controller or processor (organization) or the data subject (person) is based in the EU. Furthermore (and unlike the current directive) the regulation also applies to organizations based outside the European Union if they process personal data of EU residents. According to the European Commission, "personal data is any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details and posts on social networking websites, medical information or a computer's IP address." (Yes, I got that from Wikipedia. Don't bother yelling at me.) But the point is that any information created or consumed by ANYONE will be protected and fines imposed for any breach of that security. 

Liz Kofsky: "Absolutely, compliance is an issue and will continue to be. But when I look back and consider how ECM has evolved, what I have really seen change the most is that organizations have finally realized that one of the key elements to successful ECM implementation is user adoption. Which implies the direct involvement of the business side in ECM initiatives. The key is the integration of ECM into front-end business applications. You don't want to change the way they work; you want ECM to be transparent to them.

"On the productivity side, you will have business users who will gladly use the system, and on the legal/compliance side you can be comfortable you have a single version of the truth." So, for Liz, it's a win/win. 

Kim Edwards: "I don't think we'll ever get to the place where we can eliminate separate systems and the silos they create. So that is why there's an emphasis on tools that bridge across the silos. We don't try to knock down the silos; we try to build bridges between them.

"For example, we have large multinational users who became that way through multiple acquisitions. This leads to multiple systems, many silos and duplicated content. One way to overcome this is through collaborative tools, so that users can see the same content, see who's sharing what... it allows a better view of the company as a whole."

Who's the Boss? 

TK: on the subject of "who's in charge?" "It's still fragmented, but in certain organizations it leads up to at least the VP level. But there's still a long way to go. Take, for example, accounting. Everybody has to pay their bills, everybody has to invoice customers. For something so basic, you'd think by now everybody would have it figured out. AND... they haven't. Probably less than 50% have figured out how to leverage content for a financial transaction. That's because there's a whole bunch of stuff! And there are many people who need to be involved, and get to information to make approvals and so forth. The average cost to process an invoice is about $8. So if you have 10,000 invoices a month, you have a pretty substantial outlay of money. Which you would think at some point would escalate the problem up to the VP of finance or the CFO. Because they have to be wondering what can be done to improve efficiencies. It is growing in importance to the C- and VP-level. And if it's not, it should be.

"Sometimes it's very difficult to place a return on investment or total cost of ownership on ECM. But in the accounting example it's pretty straightforward. You can estimate what it costs to process an invoice, how many folks are involved, how long it takes. Those are hard and fast metrics. What's interesting is that some people have been able to adapt that model to other areas in their business. How long does it take to take a lead from marketing and turn it into an actual sale? What's the cost-per-lead? The question is to determine how those processes can be improved by using a central repository." 

LK: on the subject of "case management." "Besides being about the analysis of both structured and unstructured data together, case management promises to bring in all the various business processes a company has as well. Like any business activity, there's always a beginning and an end. But there are lots of steps in the meantime. You've got to be able to interact with all the different individuals and departments. It's really just like business process management-you need to open the case, address it and work with all the many steps. But there is a greater need to analyze all that content in a consistent and useful way." 

KE: on the subject of the changing nature of ECM. "Collaboration used to be document-centric. Now that's evolved to include all media-video, podcasts, blogs, wikis. Your ECM needs to be agnostic to media type. For example, we're doing a lot of work with media management, in order to place governance on all kinds of rich media."

LK: on the subject of social media and tools. "We're sharing and collaborating, and working 24/7 whether we like it or not! We constantly have our smartphones, our iPads, our various-I don't want to say devices anymore-but in order for these consumerized "things" to be useful for business, they must be ensured for security, especially from a competitive standpoint." 

TK: returning to the subject of case management. "Case management is a difficult nut to crack! Because it depends on the way the company does business, and determining how to handle those odd things that come up on a day-to-day basis. The key is having what you need to support the scenario and making sure people know where the things are they need. You need both components; either you have a great system and nobody knows about it, or you don't have the technology to support your people. If either one of those are out balance, you're going to be twisting in the wind."

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