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We Foresee: Our Team's 2014 ECM Predictions

The ECM Apocalypse is upon us.  ECM is dead and walking.  Ditto machines will make a comeback with purple ink and the smell of acetone everywhere.  “Clean Coal” technology will create a glut of sequestered carbon, thus dropping the price of carbon paper to a point that renders copy machines obsolete.

When it comes to a new year, industry-specific predictions are almost as prevalent as new resolutions.  Experts will analyze previous data, current data, and what they believe to be future data to hopefully foresee what is to come.  This year, our team at Naviant, consisting of groups of consultants, project managers, account executives, a professional services group, field services crew, and a physical records team to name some of our staff, thought that we would make predictions of our own for the ECM industry in 2014.  After all, who better to predict a future than those who are involved in Enterprise Content Management and its related topics every day?  So, without further ado…ECM predictions by the Naviant Inc. team for the 2014 year.

Houston, we have mobility!

What topic got the most people talking? Mobile access in the enterprise content management world.  Our team is positive that mobile applications will become a required component of an ECM implementation as more and more users will desire remote accessibility.  Users will be demanding real-time access to documents stored in ECM systems, and in addition to this, some staff members believe that mobile capture of documents and content will be introduced in this year’s ECM solutions as well.  All ECM software will have to be available on iPhones and Androids, but due to a highly competitive mobile market, standardization across the platforms is not likely.

I’ll get you my pretty, unless you’re in the Cloud.

Not to our surprise, much of our team was dreaming in the cloud this year, and predictions of growth were widespread.  Whether this means the cloud will gain 25% or 35% percent more content by the end of 2014 doesn’t necessarily matter.  What does matter, is that we believe that cloud-based solutions will continue to become more prevalent.  This will, of course, bring about its own set of worries in the ECM industry as highly publicized security breaches and government monitoring has resulted in cautious cloud movement thus far.  It is likely that with an increase of cloud usage will come a rise in demand for security reviews and higher security standards including encryption of not only stored files, but the data streams of those files during transit.

Show me the money!

The staff of Naviant is insistent upon growth.  When it comes to an ECM solution becoming part of organizations’ budgets, our team believes that ECM solutions will become a top priority for new dollars spent in 2014 by CFOs of organizations in the $50-$500 million in revenue range.  Furthermore, generally speaking, ECM deployments will continue to increase as organizations look for ways to grow without adding overhead.  These deployments will become an “enterprise strategic direction” for organizations and not simply a behind-the-scenes department based solution, though Accounts Payable Automation will be the department most utilized as an entry into ECM.

Speaking of growth, solution advancements and new technical capabilities were a hot topic for our team.  We created predictions that appropriate content from social networks would become required as part of the business record and that due to this, solutions will begin to develop and properly capture, categorize, and archive social content within ECM systems.  One of our employees was fighting for the end user and predicting that Google-like search capabilities across content stored within ECM systems would be demanded by all users and continued to be developed and improved by ECM vendors.  For the System Administration lovers, members of our team forecasted self-sufficient solutions that would easily allow the end consumer to configure, manage, and maintain the solution utilizing existing in-house expertise of the business rather than developers, as well as the ability to easily configure and manage robust workflow.  Regardless of who it’s benefiting, our team thinks we’ll see easier modes of configuration and administration in ECM systems this coming year.

Nobody puts Integrations in the corner.

As always, integrations will need to be a focus of any and all ECM vendors this coming year.  With billions of dollars being invested into other needed systems, ECM solutions that play nicely with other business applications will gain footing against the competition.  Specifically, our team predicted that Epic integrations would increase by 20%, and that SAP integrations would increase by at least 15%.  All in all, we believe that ECM will continue to integrate well with the latest technology trends, both in hardware and software.

Round up the usual suspects: Industry-specific Predictions

Members of our team tended to focus on two main industries that currently utilize ECM software for 2014, that of Healthcare and Insurance.  Both industries were predicted to increase their ECM utilization, with a 33% adoption increase in healthcare organizations (significant increase in Behavior Health and Long Term Care/Assisted Living Facilities) and a 25% adoption increase in Insurance organizations as a direct result of ObamaCare.

Hardware for $200, Alex.

Last, but surely not least, much was envisioned for scanners and hardware in 2014 mostly focusing on size reduction and compatibility with mobile applications.  It seems that though some of our team believes that scanners will continue to decrease in size, others believe that this will not hold true when it comes to production type scanners as they will have to remain larger due to the volume they are required to handle.  Smaller or not, a 5% increase in sales of microfilm scanners was predicted due largely to pent-up demand for replacing older analog units.

Will scanners follow the mobile trend?  Our team seems to think so with belief that scanners may shortly become another item of products to become Blue Tooth connected, a possibility that the scanner output may go directly to a Mobile device, and a thought that Intelligent glass may enter the workplace and become another medium in which people can retrieve their scanned information.

Overall Opinion

Our team at Naviant made many different projections as to where the ECM industry would go in 2014, but it seems that we were able to at least make one agreement:  if ECM doesn’t meet its demise due to a zombie apocalypse taking down technology as we know it, enterprise content management solutions will continue to thrive and adapt to the ever-changing demands of business everywhere.

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