So, you’ve heard about the cloud and know all about enterprise content management (ECM). But for a while it appeared to be a case of never the twain shall meet – ECM systems seemed stuck in an on-premises world, with the growth of cloud solutions happening in other industries.
There were many reasons for this, but it appears the tide may finally be turning. Research from AIIM shows that slowly but surely “ECM in the Cloud” is gathering pace. This blog and the associated infographic highlights seven things you should know about ECM in the cloud.
ECM in the cloud has been around for many years but has never really made the mainstream on its own. However, the rise in awareness and demand for the cloud has pushed through into ECM.
As a result, 46 percent of organizations surveyed by AIIM believe the cloud will be the ECM platform of choice within three years. This is a very bold statement from a traditionally conservative audience. Perhaps it’s based on the fact that 42 percent already have strategic plans to use some form of cloud content management.
Next stop, world domination? Well, maybe not quite yet.
It appears we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with ECM in the cloud. People are either in favor of it or against it – there isn’t a lot of middle ground.
If you’re looking to roll-out a cloud solution, those who will usually back you up include business users and consultants – the ones who can see the immediate benefits of cloud-based solutions. Those who often take a bit more convincing (this blog post on “Clouditis” provides more details) are the IT and records managers. While taking longer to come around to the idea, once they do get on board they can be the key to making or breaking any cloud project – they are worth that extra effort.
The objections raised by those who do not favor the cloud are still largely based on security and compliance. Indeed, 61 percent cited “the perceived security risk” and 53 percent the “need to demonstrate compliance” as the main stumbling blocks to cloud adoption. These are frequently cited as the biggest issues but are often red-herrings given that, for those who have adopted the cloud, a whopping 70 percent have had no problems whatsoever with security or compliance. A further 26 percent have had only minor issues.
The real challenge is integrating ECM in the cloud with existing line-of-business (LOB) applications, some of which are on-premises, some cloud-based. Thirty-one percent cited this as a problem – and it can be if the cloud provider does not have a suitably open architecture or connectivity capabilities. However, many ECM in the cloud providers do integrate to both on-premises and cloud LOB applications.
Once an organization decides to move to the cloud, the biggest factor in selecting a solution is security for 75 percent of organizations. But, this time it’s about ensuring the security and compliance of content – something a cloud provider will be more than happy to discuss and facilitate.
Cost is also an important factor for 51 percent of organizations, which is unsurprising considering the cloud is constantly trumpeted as a cost-saver. What is concerning, though, is that only 25 percent are concerned about ease-of-use and service levels – both of which are vitally important to any solution, let alone cloud-based ones.
One key aspect of the cloud is that your data is not stored on your servers but on someone else’s, somewhere in the cloud. For a number of cloud solutions this works just fine – but for ECM in the cloud, knowing where that content is stored is vital. There are various national and international data protection legislations that either recommend, or in certain cases require, data to be stored in certain geographies. This is deemed to be very important for 40 percent of organizations and important for a further 25 percent.
These requirements force ECM cloud vendors to not only provide transparency to customers as to where their data is stored, but also requires them to have multiple data centers around the world to ensure compliance.
Of course, ECM is used to deliver a number of different real-world applications and it’s no different in the cloud. The most popular uses in the cloud include human resources (HR), accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR). Surprisingly, given records managers’ apparent dislike of the cloud, records management is the most popular cloud-based ECM applications.
Last but by no means least, there seems to consistently be strong spending on ECM in the Cloud with 45 percent of organizations expecting to spend the same or more on cloud services in the next 12 months. This marries up well with predicted growth and is a positive step forward for cloud-based ECM.
As the cloud market develops (IDC expects the cloud market to account for 25 percent of business spend by 2016), ECM in the cloud will continue to strengthen with the increasing benefits of cloud-based solutions – in certain scenarios, outweighing on-premises installations. In fact, for many looking at deploying a new ECM solution, the question soon may move from “Why should I put this in the cloud?” to “Why shouldn’t I put this in the cloud?”