Whether it’s to reassure you that you’re doing the right thing, or convince your boss that the company is doing the wrong thing, it’s always helpful to read industry surveys. That’s why the AIIM Enterprise Content Management (ECM) survey is so useful.

The AIIM survey, conducted every couple of years, explores how industry attitudes have changed. So with the 2015 survey now out, let’s see what happened in the intervening years since the last survey. (AIIM performed a similar survey in 2013—also written by Chief Analyst Doug Miles—as well as one in 2011.)

Here are some insights:

  1. What’s leading organizations to implement ECM systems?

What’s interesting here is that “lowering costs and improving efficiency” has taken the lead in terms of business drivers, with “compliance and risk” coming in second. In 2013, they were tied, but that was essentially an aberration after the post-crash period of 2012-2013, Miles writes.  Since 2004, when AIIM first started these reports, “lowering costs and improving efficiency” has always been the primary driver.

  1. Users haven’t progressed much in terms of reducing dependence on file share.

In 2013, 3 percent of respondents said their organizations had turned it off, 12 percent had largely replaced it with ECM, and 34 percent planned to replace it. In 2015, 62 percent still considered themselves “strongly reliant” on file-share, while only 1 percent had turned it off and 15 percent had “largely replaced it” with ECM.

  1. In terms of completing company-wide ECM, things are falling back.

In 2013, 18 percent of respondents said they had implemented a company-wide ECM—an increase from 16 percent in AIIM’s 2011 survey. In 2015, only 14 percent were using company-wide ECMs, and 52 percent said they were working on it.

  1. One of the startling findings from 2013 was how many organizations were using multiple ECM systems. In 2015, they still are.

In 2013, AIIM found that 75 percent of respondents had more than one ECM system, while 26 percent had more than four systems in place. Sadly, this finding doesn’t seem to have improved much in this year’s survey: 52 percent have three or more ECM systems, while 22 percent have five or more. “These numbers are a few percentage points up on the 2013 survey, so no evidence of consolidation as yet,” Miles writes.

  1. Some users remain dissatisfied with their existing ECM solutions.

In 2013, 5 percent of respondents were looking to replace their existing systems. In 2015, 10 percent are looking (10 percent of the largest organizations, 13 percent of mid-sized, and 5 percent of small businesses).

The ECM forecast for 2020

Another interesting insight is that 52 percent of respondents agreed that in five years’ time, ECM systems will be an “undifferentiated part” of the IT infrastructure. AIIM has explored this concept in more detail in another report, Content Management 2020: Thinking Beyond ECM.

 “ECM as we know it will be gone,” AIIM writes. “Content will be everywhere and in everything, but Content Management will be increasingly invisible.” Instead, it will be replaced by something else—as yet unnamed—that is dominated by mobile, analytics, cloud, and collaborative technologies.

“Three major disruptive forces are accelerating the pace of change and driving organizations into information chaos,” AIIM writes, defining them as follows:

  • Consumerization is transforming what users expect from applications and how we deliver them. We are now in the era of user-centric IT.
  • Cloud and mobile are creating an expectation of anywhere, anytime access and transforming how we engage with customers and employees.
  • The Internet of Things is generating massive amounts of new data and information, creating enormous new challenges and opportunities.

While it may seem difficult to believe that ECM will be gone by 2020, given how little the industry has progressed since 2013, there is some good news: Companies that are using ECM systems have integrated them into their business processes to the extent that they’re dependent on them.

While 22 percent said their primary ECM system could be down for more than a day before causing serious business disruption, almost half said their business would be disrupted by an outage of two hours or less. In fact, 12 percent said business would be disrupted by an outage of as little as 15 minutes or less.

Just goes to show how important robustness is in picking out an ECM system.

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