Turns out, having your head in the clouds might actually be a good thing. In the business world, companies are starting to see the value of moving their various applications to the cloud. Enterprise content management (ECM) is no exception. In fact, in some cases, there are even more benefits in moving ECM to the cloud than with other applications.

Cost. As with any other cloud implementation, moving ECM to the cloud means that organizations can offload the ownership and management of their hardware and software to the cloud provider. The result is that companies not only save money on buying and maintaining the hardware and software, but also move the expense from an initial high capital cost to a more regular operational cost. Moreover, moving ECM to the cloud means that organizations can typically save on staffing expenses as well.

“Organizations often see cloud deployments as a primary means of reducing their ECM TCO [total cost of ownership], meaning ECM leaders are missing out on opportunities to gain agility and modernize user experiences,” writes Gartner in its recent report, Strategize to Reap the Benefits of Moving Content Management Applications to the Cloud.

Moving to hybrid cloud-based ECM means companies can avoid up-front IT costs and management headaches associated with on-premises technologies, and get out of the provisioning business, writes Lauren Horwitz for TechTarget.

Access. Companies typically implement ECM software in the first place to help make the company’s content more accessible by putting it online rather than on paper. Moving the ECM software to the cloud consequently makes that data even more accessible by making it easier for employees and other authorized users to retrieve that data from locations outside the office.

“ECM in the cloud has become an increasingly attractive option for companies with distributed workforces that need anywhere, anytime access to information,” Horwitz writes. This is particularly true now that ECM vendors have recognized user interest in this functionality and are building it into their products, she adds.

Something CIOs need to keep in mind is that users want cloud functionality—such as ease of use, the ability to share files easily, and access to files when out of the office—enough that if they don’t get it officially, they’ll find a way to get it through some other channels, such as free and low-cost cloud-based file sharing services. The problem is that such “easy” solutions can result in security and compliance challenges. Because users are going to do it anyway, it’s better to implement access to a sanctioned solution that at least keeps data safe.

Security. While some organizations are concerned about the security implications of the cloud because the data is no longer on-premises, in many ways data can actually be more secure, particularly compared with a shared file service, Horwitz writes. “They offer a central location from which workers can share and edit documents from anywhere with version control, workflows and audit trails. And they keep sensitive corporate data behind the firewall, safe from prying eyes. They also enable records management and disaster recovery through file syncing,” she writes. “In sum: They can span standard ECM functionality with better ease of use and access.”

Moreover, basing data in the cloud provides a built-in solution in the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or a flood, Horwitz writes. Not only is the data protected, but staff members who work from an alternative location or from home can more easily have access to the data they need.

“Choosing cloud-based enterprise content management (ECM) over on-premises software has been almost a no-brainer for some organizations,” Horwitz writes. Ready to store your data off-site? Now might be time for your organization to move its ECM to the cloud.

To learn more about how ECM can help you automate key processes, save time spent locating documents and be better prepared to meet compliance requirements, check out our ECM software buyer’s guide.

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