Impact of the Cloud on ECM … a New Perspective

I spent a fair abount of time with one of our major Enterprise Content Management (ECM) customers this week on “the cloud”.  Not a shocker … but this topic has alot of hype associated with it.  However, this customer has a clear vision for using “the cloud” and sees it as a mechanism to elminate many of their internal barriers to broader ECM adoption (and greater ROI).  They plan to move most of their ECM projects into the cloud as soon as they possibly can.  What?  Why?  How?

Some background … this customer has invested substantially in ECM technologies over the years and has a variety of vendors deployed.  IBM including FileNet, Documentum, Mobius and a few others.  They have grown by acquisition, and like many acquisitive companies, have a less then ideal spaghetti-like IT infrastructure with too many overlapping ECM vendors and solutions.  They are doing everything from imaging, workflow automation, enterprise report magement, document management to records management.  Most notably, they have a top down mandate to take significant costs out a large number of business processess and to go paperless.  Due to their acquisition pace and a number of other factors, this customer has been unable to mature their ECM practice and infrastrucuture to the point of offering a shared services platform, standardized provisioning and packages, internal billing, etc … in short everthing is a one-off.

Enter the cloud … this customer is basically at a fork in the road … they can figure out a shared services model, provisioning, billing and a whole host of things themselves (sounds like fun) not to mention the capex obstacles they are facing … or … leverage prepackaged private cloud services with all that built-in and ready to go.  In their case … the path forward is clear.  The cloud will simplify and acclerate adoption of ECM whle also accelerating the cost reduction and paper elimination requirements they need to achieve in the support of the mandate.

What do you think … are they a trend setter and an indicator of things to come or an anomaly?

2 thoughts on “Impact of the Cloud on ECM … a New Perspective

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Impact of the Cloud on ECM … a New Perspective « Craig Rhinehart's Soapbox --

  2. The description you provided leaves more questions that would need to be answered to identify the various risks they are approaching. The “cloud” and its many predecessors of centralized, external service-based controls have a place in the industry, albeit a relatively small one for the vast majority of organizations. As you know, ECM solutions are seriously considered when the data needs to be managed due to cost, risk, or control reasons. Cloud services tend to be cost-advantaged in the short term. The risks and control issues with cloud services are significant barriers, particularly for third-party controlled repositories. The ECM data tends to be among the most important and sensitive for organizations and losing physical control of the data is a significant barrier. The risks for internally owned services are significantly lower than outsourced services, but still are very measurable.

    From a functional viewpoint, this is very similar to accounting data, which is also generally considered to be extremely sensitive. While many SaaS accounting packages have been proposed, none have really taken hold in a significant way; from my discussions with CFO’s and others in the financial professions, there is a reasonable fear of the data becoming unavailable with no notice, resulting in the reasonable questioning of the subscribing firm to continue as a going concern. There is precedent for this type of “shuttered” and “destroyed” data.

    For non-sensitive applications, I think cloud services can offer quite a bit depending upon the priorities of the client. Thus, I think on-premise solutions will continue to have the dominant role for most customers.

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