Five reasons ECM & Document Management needs to be disrupted.

By Aaron Cornelius

Traditional enterprise content management providers are struggling to deal with the demands of today’s information workers.  If data is the new oil, then the current approach to ECM has only managed to scratch the surface of what people need.

Expensive, complex and outdated applications contained behind the firewall are causing users to ignore corporate standards and seek out consumer grade applications to engage with co-workers and customers. This underpins the very reason companies seek out such technologies and is creating growing concerns of security and governance.

Here are five reasons why traditional ECM & Document Management platforms no longer stack up.

1. Too much complexity

Complexity is the killer of user acceptance. While ECM projects are well meaning, most end up isolated to a particular use case or department where only a very small percentage of the features are actually used. Of the features that are available – none of them let the user work the way they want or need, so they are simply finding work-arounds. At a very basic level, if it takes more than four mouse clicks to capture a desktop document you can forget it. Because of this low acceptance, any thought of upgrading or expanding the platform to cater for new business initiatives hardly ever gets off the ground.

Because of the pain endured during initial implementation and the knowledge not retained within the business, we often see a phenomenon where ECM expansion in the business is done through implementation of a brand new platform rather than expanding the existing one.

The end result is new challenges in training, acceptance and ongoing maintenance.

2. Too expensive

The close relative of complexity is cost and today’s businesses are turning away from expensive methods of solving relatively simple problems.

For existing implementations, questions will eventually be raised about the cost of maintaining such a platform especially if users are bypassing the platform because the app or platform is just too clumsy to use. It’s a competition about who can create the world’s most expensive electronic filing cabinet.  These legacy systems are expensive to purchase but also expensive to own because organisations are faced with:

  • Consultancy/training costs to keep platform going and expanding.
  • Cost of non-trivial upgrades to avoid platform to be end-of-support
  • Cost of vendor maintenance contracts

3. Outdated design

Most ECM platforms haven’t kept up with the changing ways information and data is created, shared and consumed.  Installing a legacy platform on publically available infrastructure and calling it a Cloud app just doesn’t cut it, nor does financing software over a term in an attempt to offer SaaS pricing models.

Unless you can remove the shackles from your information and allow users to work how they want and where they want while maintaining security and compliance, you’re no longer in the game.

Traditional platforms typically have over-engineered back -ends designed for on-premise installations. On the other hand, many of the cloud-based platforms are not leveraging the advanced functionality of the best cloud technology on offer.

4. Lack of agility

All businesses thrive to be more agile yet traditional ECM platforms are often stuck in the approaches of yesteryear, forcing users to revert to email or consumer grade apps to simply share and collaborate with data and information.

The complexities and cost of traditional ECM means even simple changes to the platform, such as adding a user or document type often fall into the “too hard” basket. 

It’s still too difficult to share information, ideas and tasks with people to improve productivity. The consequence of these functionality gaps is often platform fragmentation where people use a number of different cloud platforms to manage different content or part of the content lifecycle.

There is also internal platform fragmentation where business users choose to use various line-of-business platforms to store content for tactical reasons.

The outcome is that business content is scattered across a number of different repositories making management, integration and consumption of business content very difficult.

5. Lack of scalability

The true value of ECM comes from enterprise wide deployments that centrally manage and control access to all data and content yet most implementations barely get beyond their initial phase for the reason mentioned above. Adding more content and users shouldn’t require a team of business analysts, hardware and software engineers, project managers and even developers.

True scalability should be controlled by business users by way of adoption, and through acceptance of the platform. ECM and document management platforms need to be more aligned to how users want and need to work and shouldn’t be constrained by infrastructure and old school licensing models.

The future of ECM

There’s a new movement happening and it’s that of document centric collaboration where users are demanding timely access to the right information with the added ability to work collaboratively, not only with colleagues but with people and teams outside your organization.

This is the Xendle story and how we came to be.  A truly digital platform that provides information workers with the ability to work how they want without borders.

Our point of difference is combining a modern and easy to use ECM platform with consumer like ease of use while complying with business grade security for file sharing and team collaboration. Architecture and functionality, not only security

This combination realizes that team collaboration can’t live separately from ECM & Document management and visa versa.

Aaron Cornelius is an NZ tech entrepreneur and chief executive at Xendle, a company that has built a new ECM system built on AWS tech that focuses on the metadata-based classification of business documents.