For many businesses, content chaos is real. Without a proper system for managing documents, files, and unstructured data, it’s easy to quickly lose track of what’s what, where it is, and if it’s up-to-date. To alleviate these issues, many organizations have turned to enterprise content management (ECM) systems.
Though ECM systems have been around for decades, they’ve had to evolve right alongside the businesses they serve. So what’s on the horizon for ECM systems these days?
Here, we’ll walk through some of the most prominent trends that have bubbled up in the world of ECM systems and how systems are addressing them.
1. Mobile Access
There’s no doubt about it—people are more mobile than ever before. In one 2019 report, 30 percent of people surveyed worked remotely full-time, compared to 18 percent in 2018. And of course, 2020 threw mobile work into the spotlight. That anomaly aside, people are becoming less tethered to official on-site workplaces than in the past.
And though many users might still prefer to do the bulk of their work on a desktop, ECM systems are pivoting to keep up with the rise in demand for mobile access. ECM systems increasingly include a mobile app component to allow users to find the content they need from wherever they happen to be.
2. Cloud-based or Flexible Deployment
It’s only natural that with the increase in demand for mobile access, businesses look for more flexible ways to deploy solutions, too. Indeed, a 2019 survey found that a staggering 91 percent of respondents use cloud-based tools. In response, ECM systems are shifting to cloud-based offerings.
Some solutions might be strictly cloud-based, allowing users to access files from anywhere. Others might be a hybrid between cloud- and on-site storage, offering companies the flexibility and data recovery benefits of cloud with the speed and security of on-site storage. Regardless of what specific type of deployment a company might need, ECM solutions are ready to offer it.
3. Security and Regulatory Compliance
Another trend that’s intersecting with the world of ECM is the need for tighter document security. With most of our day-to-day operations playing out digitally, security issues are less a probability and more an inevitability. And those issues can take many forms.
For instance, according to one 2020 report, just in Q1 of that year, 8.4 billion files were left exposed due to poor internal security measures. Meanwhile, the same report found that 70 percent of actual data breaches were a result of unauthorized access.
Companies realize the critical need for document security—especially those in industries like healthcare, where legislative bodies tightly regulate who can access files. However, addressing that need can be challenging.
In response, modern ECM systems offer solutions like tiered controls and permission-based access. Combined with other, security-specific SaaS solutions, these settings help ensure that only the people who need to access a file can.
These days, it feels like there are countless tools and solutions flooding the marketplace, each with its own special function. This speciality can be a boon, but it’s easy to wind up with an ever-growing set of tools. In fact, the average employee uses around eight or nine apps to do their jobs. What’s more, they can waste over 30 minutes a day toggling between these tools.
Given this abundance of tools and the time it can take to navigate between them, makers of ECM systems have become more sensitive to the importance of integration. Especially since there are usually legacy systems to consider, too. These systems are the backbone of operations at most businesses and replacing them just to accommodate a new add-on software usually isn’t an option.
Now, the majority of ECM systems integrate with these legacy systems, whether they’re CRMs, ERPs or HRMs. This integration ensures users have all the information they need in one spot, creating more efficient workflows.
5. Customization and Good User Experience (UX)
Deciding on a flexible ECM system that integrates with your legacy software is all well and good, but it’s meaningless if no one wants to actually use it. At least in the world of e-commerce, 21 percent of people abandoned their online purchase because the checkout process was too lengthy or complicated. It stands to reason this phenomenon applies beyond the world of e-commerce, too. The more difficult it is to use something—regardless of its purpose—the less likely someone is to use it.
As such, ECM system designers are keenly aware that good user experience (UX) is becoming more critical to businesses. More than ever, ECM systems feature logical, easy-to-use interfaces. These designs ensure users can quickly intuit how to accomplish their tasks without hassle.
On top of that, customization has become more important, too. Businesses don’t want to change their workflows to suit a software—they need solutions that fit their workflows. So ECM systems are adapting by offering customizable settings, like tiered permissions and automated processes that align with a company’s needs.
This dual focus on UX and customized settings encourages internal buy-in at every level of an organization.
6. AI and Machine Learning
Perhaps the most exciting trend in the world of ECM is the emerging prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Technologies in both of these areas are accelerating at a thrilling pace, enabling software developers to incorporate elegant solutions that seemed like a moonshot just decades ago.
And business leaders are eager to take advantage of these solutions. According to a PWC report, 82 percent of business executives believe AI and machine learning can eliminate tedious paperwork, while 69 percent think the technologies can help with accounting tasks.
Indeed, ECM systems are already helping companies realize these benefits and improving on their solutions each year. Today, most ECM systems feature smart technology, like OCR processing, that learns from its mistakes to improve performance over time.
Find the Right Balance
Clearly, ECM system developers have been keeping their fingers on the pulse of business needs. Systems are incorporating things like machine learning and better security settings more than ever before.
But just because software developers are tuned in to business needs and changing trends doesn’t mean all ECM systems are created equal. Some trends may align with your business goals while others might not. The trick is finding an ECM system that meets your needs, regardless of what features are trending.
MHC Software offers a best-in-class ECM solution that helps organizations take back control over an array of business areas, from accounts payable and accounting to supply chain and human resources. With features like smart OCR, seamless integration with legacy ERP systems, and tiered permissions, you can create more efficient workflows that save you precious time and money.
Ready to learn more? See how MHC Software can help you tame the content chaos.