I’m often asked about enterprise content management (ECM) in the cloud: “What are other firms doing?” “How quickly are firms adopting cloud-based services?” “What applications are most appropriate?”
In fact, we are seeing some consistent patterns in terms of how organizations are approaching cloud solutions for ECM. While the primary record-keeping content systems are hard and fast remaining on premises, many ancillary applications – and the associated content – are moving to the cloud.
For most organizations, the focus to date has been on “ancillary applications” – i.e. those applications that are on the periphery of an enterprise’s computing landscape, the proverbial “back-office” applications, such as those that support purchasing and HR. What’s interesting here is that cloud vendors are offering purpose-built, functionally-rich tools for these applications that enable departments with small (or very small) IT budgets to leverage significant capabilities in a number of document-intensive use cases. For example:
So as these ancillary applications get moved to the cloud, so, too, goes the supporting content. While we’re not (yet) seeing customer data moved there, the ancillary application use cases do provide an excellent proving ground for organizations to get comfortable with key documents being housed off-premises. (You’d think this wouldn’t be such a big deal, as paper records are almost all stored offsite by firms like Iron Mountain, but it’s progress.) While none of these ancillary applications are regarded as primarily content management systems, many do have a significant volume of content associated with them.
Call it the incremental approach to the cloud. And expect further proliferation of these ancillary applications in the cloud, as more organizations, representing more industries, get more comfortable with cloud-based services (not to mention the associated savings in IT dollars) and then begin to expand their definitions of what constitutes an “ancillary” application. In the final analysis, it’s an effective – and proven – way for organizations to move to the adoption of cloud-based services.