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Will the Real “ECM in the Cloud” Please Stand Up?

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By David Jones, Cloud Solution Marketing Manager – Hyland, Creator of OnBase

Many people ask the question; “What is enterprise content management (ECM) in the Cloud?” Unfortunately, for many, this isn’t the right question to ask.  So, what is the right question?

The question to ask is “What is ECM?” Once you know the answer to that and understand what it can do for your organization, then ECM in the Cloud simply becomes a case of combining the benefits of ECM with the benefits of cloud to get the best of both worlds.

What is ECM?

Think about the aspects that are key for an organization to succeed – internal communication and collaboration across teams, simple and effective file storage, getting access to information quickly, and remaining within compliance regulations that might relate to their business.

Now think of the aspects that organizations tend to do badly and you’ll pretty much get the same list.  And that’s because these aspects are difficult to accomplish.  But technology and ECM in particular, help in exactly these areas.  It helps organizations get to grips with the information chaos that many currently find themselves in – drowning in emails, information stored in multiple places and often duplicated several times; managing that content is essential for any information-driven organization but difficult to do.  However, if information is managed well it can turn into a significant competitive advantage.  That advantage is what ECM can deliver.

The Cloud

By 2013, over 50 million business people were using cloud-based office tools.  Tools like Google Drive and Office 365 have been adopted by many, but these figures pale into insignificance compared to the 40 billion apps that have been downloaded via iTunes.  However, those numbers hide the fact that the two are very different in terms of what they want to achieve.  Office tools want to deliver a solution that you will use every day, whereas the app store sells apps that perform a particular task.

Many are finding that ECM in the Cloud has a similarly muddled landscape with cloud-based file sharing apps competing toe-to-toe with full ECM in the Cloud solutions – all claiming to be the answer to your cloud ECM needs.

This makes the ECM in the Cloud market a very crowded, and consequently, a very confusing one. The clash of established ECM software applications and new cloud-based file sharing solutions all competing in the same space pitches apples against oranges – with neither of them really delivering what the end-user wants.

From an ECM perspective, users are looking for full functionality.  By that I mean all of the pieces of ECM that differentiate it from simple file storage – so, process management and workflow, advanced scanning and capture of information from thousands of documents, comprehensive reporting, records management and integration to other key business applications – be they on-premise or in the cloud.  These “heavy lifting tools” are what makes ECM good at what it does and without them, cloud ECM is just a glorified archive in the sky.

But of equal importance to the ECM functionality is the ability for it to be delivered via the cloud.  There the benefits to a monthly pricing model, outsourced security and system management and delivery via the Internet to any device.  This is exactly what the cloud file sharers do provide, but something that traditional ECM systems have failed to achieve.

ECM in the Cloud

Only the combination of ECM AND cloud truly satisfies the needs of end users.  It is a series of tools built upon a resilient and flexible cloud framework that allows an organization to automate and refine its processes, to store, manage and access its content, and to remain compliant in whatever industry they happen to work in.  It is a flexible monthly billing model, a scalable solution that can be grown or shrunk as the organization requires, and it is secure, resilient to a level that works for the end user at a price they are happy to pay.

ECM in the Cloud is not a cloud file share; it’s not a web interface to an on-premise solution; it’s not an archive in the sky.  It is all of ECM, it is in the cloud and it is here now.

So, what is “ECM in the Cloud”? – It’s the future of ECM.


David Jones - HylandAbout the author:

David Jones, Cloud Solution Marketing Manager – Hyland, Creator of OnBase

David Jones joined Hyland in May 2013 as the company’s cloud marketing expert, delivering product and solution marketing for Hyland’s comprehensive cloud-based enterprise content management (ECM) solution, the OnBase Cloud. In his role, David is responsible for all aspects of marketing the OnBase Cloud, including planning and executing its product marketing strategy.

David brings over 20 years’ experience of working with users and vendors across a wide range of vertical markets. His experience has focused on taking complex technologies, such as data mining, business intelligence, and electronic enterprise content management (ECM), and developing them into commercial solutions; experience that also included running his own cloud-based ECM company for 8 years.

Prior to joining Hyland David worked most recently as a market consultant and analyst at AIIM, and previously has occupied multiple IT consulting roles. He has delivered content management, information security, data mining, big data and business intelligence strategy and implementation solutions to clients such as Hewlett Packard, Fujitsu, Canon, BBC, SAP, Alfresco and Cisco.

David earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Southampton University, UK.

Twitter:     @InstinctiveDave

1 Comment

  • avatar image
    Reply Rajiv, 19 September 2014

    I don’t think any decent organization confuses between mobile apps and ECM. It’s the ECM vendor that tries to oversell the advantages of Cloud as the term ‘Cloud’ is an in thing to say. Realistically, there is more to just putting ones enterprise solutions on the cloud specially from a CIO/CTO perspective

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