Recently, analysts Alan Pelz-Sharpe and Kashyap Kompella of Deep Analysis released a new report titled Intelligent Information Management from ECM 1.0 to 2.0. We found the report relevant because it closely looks at traditional and new ECM systems and talks about the ways companies are currently adopting these approaches. While ECM 1.0 still very much dominates the market and can provide companies with table stakes features and functionality, ECM 2.0 boasts modern technology such as cloud infrastructures, machine learning, AI and blockchain that are all paving new and innovative content landscapes.
We recently spoke with Analyst, Alan Pelz-Sharpe to get more information about the findings from this report:
Alan Pelz-Sharpe: We did it quite simply to bring some clarity to a confused situation. The fact is that the first generations of ECM promised to bring order to chaos, and to some extent they succeed. But the reality is that their focus on repository has become somewhat redundant. Today most organizations have many silos and always will. We needed a fresh perspective to deal with and map the reality of organizations struggling to manage information.
JM: Alfresco has shifted towards a content services architecture, which is one element of your 2.0 thinking. Why is this modular approach needed?
APS: For the reasons mentioned above, which is that organizations (particularly large ones) are not going to consolidate all their content into one location. Rather they need to use services to figure out what they have and gain access to it. Be that search, or governance or capture – services need to work in heterogenous situations and be adaptable to change over time.
JM: What role does Deep Analysis see AI and Machine Learning play in the future of content management and why should companies pay attention even if they are not ready to adopt?
APS: AI & Machine Learning are central to the future of content management – from intelligent capture to analyzing legacy data. For one thing, the sheer volume of data and files demands analysis and automation, but they also open up new opportunities for innovation in how we manage content from capture to destruction. We are already seeing many legacy ECM customers using ML/AI for basic document classification on a much bigger scale. But in the short term, where the real benefits are being gained is in connecting ML to automation to reduce manual key entry work. We are also seeing new approaches to capture that adapt to different forms and structures dynamically – a big improvement over traditional templated approaches.
JM: In your research on “Blockchain for business” what do you see as viable business cases in ECM? How do you see that expanding?
APS: What’s interesting is that ECM has traditionally only focused on a handful of industry sectors. Moving forward, I expect to see the value of ECM be leveraged more widely across the supply chain and citizen-driven government to give two examples. Supply Chain is a particularly interesting area, as they are traditionally document heavy (think invoices to shipping manifests) that paperwork accounts for a high percentage of shipping costs. They have been one of the first movers to experiment with and leverage blockchain and smart contract applications to digitally transform. Similarly, Government has been early in exploring the digitization of records and building immutable audit trails for citizen needs – from identity to company registries. In both Government and Supply Chain the same challenges are in place – lots of paperwork that moves from point to point, owner to owner – throughout its lifecycle.
JM: Can you talk about the opportunities that cloud players such as Amazon present to the ECM market?
APS: Clearly the move to the cloud is a given, but for many it has been as a cheap storage option as a way of eliminating on premises costs. Amazon and the other cloud players can do much more than that. By aggregating huge volumes of data, delivering near unlimited processing power and layering on machine learning, they can unlock the value of content in a way that was previously unimaginable.
JM: What do you predict for ECM use cases of the future?
APS: The biggest shift I see is that ECM will move from being an application and an industry sector focused on single organizations and departments to delivering and fulfilling the needs of use cases that span multiple organizations, partners, customers. That is something that was in the past difficult to do effectively, but new approaches are bringing down those walls and use cases will be much broader and open than in the past. For sure there will be organization centric traditional use cases like accounts payable/receivable/HR in the future. But it’s when we cross borders (virtual or real) that complexity comes in and we lose control of information processes. To quote Maarten Boender from a recent interview, “your ECM system tells your version of the truth.” In the future, we need a universal version of the truth that cannot be disputed.
Systems of the future will provide an immutable audit trail so that those changes (errors/fraud) are no longer possible. And the future use cases based on the same criteria will extend far beyond supply chain – the same challenges are prevalent today in other areas like M&A transactions and Insurance Claims.
You can learn more about the nuances of ECM 1.0 and 2.0 systems in Alan’s full report, Intelligent Information Management from ECM 1.0 to 2.0. For a closer look at modern ECM approaches that use a content services approach, we encourage you to explore our recent IT Strategist’s Guide to Transforming ECM.