The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) recently conducted a survey on the use of enterprise content management systems in organizations, which found that only 18% of respondents had completed implementing an ECM system.

We recently spoke with Doug Miles, director of market intelligence for the Washington, D.C., organization, about the survey. Below are a few highlights from the conversation:  

On how organizations should handle multiple ECM/DM/RM systems (the survey found that 75% of organizations have more than one ECM/DM/RM system, and 26% have more than four systems already): “First, you need to audit the content management systems, and find out where poor information access might be hurting the business,” Miles says. For example, look for a lack of access to systems that are storing content, such as ones that don't have logins, or that provide poor access to systems outside the firewall, or to tablets and smartphones, he says.

On the importance of knowing why your organization has multiple ECM systems: “Take stock of your existing systems,” Miles says. “Most people have more than one. Beyond that, more than half  [the data] is stored on systems that are enterprise systems — ERP, CRM, and so on.” At that point, you need to determine your strategy. “Are you working toward a single ECM and you’re going to migrate? Or integrate your systems with a common search portal? Which way are you going to go?”

But that doesn’t mean you need to think in terms of having only one ECM system:  “It’s desirable, but it’s not readily achievable in a lot of organizations,” Miles says. “It’s desirable, because once you have most things in one system, then if you make that system available on mobile, all the content can be created and can integrate with business processes. You can integrate all of them, instead of single line-of-business solutions. If you can consolidate all that lot together, people don't need to search multiple places for information.”

On ECM Trend #1: Automated Classification: At this point, there are two major ECM trends moving forward, Miles says. First is automated classification. “14% are doing it now, 37% are keen on it, and 24% want to,” he says. “A number of content management system projects fail to capture the imagination of users because they find it difficult to tag all the documents appropriately. In some ways, software is better at doing that kind of tagging — such as in email — than humans are, because it’s the only way to handle the volume,” he says. And while people used to distrust automated processing, they have learned to trust it in some cases, such as spam filters, he notes. For example, you could set up the system to look for customer numbers, classify the content, and then tag it with the customer number, he says.

On ECM Trend #2: Mobile: The second trend Miles sees is mobile. And not just mobile access to content, but the ability to create content and participate in workflows from mobile devices. For example, an organization could extend its current paper scanning and electronic forms capture to the tablet for its field engineers or insurance agents. “There’s a 5 to 10 percent improvement in turnaround time by improving the capture point from the base to out on the road,” he says. In addition, he suggests looking for ways to get the customer to capture information for you, such as by using phones to photograph receipts and sending in claims from the phone. “Extend that to all the things customers do, sending things through mail or courier,” he says. “I could imagine a huge impact down the line.”

In the end, organizations — including the 18% that think they’re done now — should also look to see ways in which they can re-energize the ECM projects they already have. “They implemented it, then they sat back and said ‘Whew!’ but they aren't optimizing it,” Miles says. Examples of ways in which an organization can extend its ECM include digital signatures, administrative workflow, and case management add-ons, he says. “Take it a little further, see what functionality you can add, where the value-add is considerably more.”

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