In Focus: AIIM Study Says It's Not "Why" But "How" You Manage Content - InformationWeek

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In Focus: AIIM Study Says It's Not "Why" But "How" You Manage Content

"Industry watch" study on ECM fails to reveal the types of content mangement systems that users are most interested in.

Enterprise content management (ECM) deployments are getting more strategic, and process automation and business risk management are te fastest growing project priorities. These are just a few of the key findings of the latest annual "Industry Watch" survey on ECM conducted by AIIM International and released last month. What the study fails to examine, however, is just what type of content management users are most interested in using to meet their diverse needs.

Entitled "Moving From Why? To How?: The Maturing of ECM Users," the 2005-2006 report concludes that ECM implementations have moved from a tactical to a strategic concern. While cost and efficiency continue to be the primary drivers of adoption, performance- and compliance-related concerns have risen in importance (see "Top Drivers of ECM Interest" table, below). "Just as the perception of ECM has changed from a departmental focus to an enterprise/infrastructure focus, the importance of simple cost reduction has diminished relative to higher order value propositions such as 'improving efficiency' and 'increasing profits,'" the study reports.

Top Drivers of ECM interest (% of respondents, all countries)
'03-'04 Survey '05-'06 Survey
Cost-Driven Users 56% 44%
Improve efficiency 32% 26%
Reduce costs 17% 7%
Increase profits/improve performance 7% 11%
Customer-Driven Issues 31% 30%
Better Customer Service 16% 13%
Leadership/competitive advantage 7% 12%
Faster turnaround/improved response 8% 5%
Risk-Driven Issues 15% 26%
Compliance 11% 17%
Risk Management/Business Continuity 4% 9%
Source: AIIM '05-'06 Industry Watch study

While most end users now understand why they need to manage content, many still struggle with the "what" and "how" issues related to ECM, the report says. Executives named "justifying the investment" (30 percent), "planning/managing implementation" (27 percent) and "getting employee commitment" (17 percent) as the three biggest obstacles to ECM implementation.

ECM project priorities have remained fairly consistent with last year's results, with "document control," "records management/archiving" and "e-mail management" once again cited among respondents top-three planned pursuits (see "Projects and Applications Under Consideration" table, below). "Process automation" and "business continuity/risk management," moved up to the number five and number six spots, respectively, up from 10 and 13 in the priority rankings in last year's survey.

"There is clearly a greater interest in process automation as organizational experience with ECM increases, particularly among large organizations, reflecting a clear bridge between ECM and BPM technologies," the study asserts. Respondents from among large organizations with extensive ECM experience ranked "process automation" as their number-four priority.

Projects and Applications Under Consideration
Rank Rank
'05-'06 '04-'05
1. Document Control 2
2. Records Management/Archiving 1
3. E-mail Management 3
4. Information Capture 4
5. Process Automation 10
6. Business Continuity/Risk Mng. 13
7. Library and Knowledge Mng. 7
8. Customer Service (CRM) 11
9. Web Publishing 6
10. Technical Document Mng. 9
Source: AIIM '05-'06 Industry Watch study

Reflecting a bifurcation of the ECM market, the AIIM study revealed that large organizations tend to be experienced with ECM and focused on integrating and extending existing investments while the faster growing community of midsize organizations adopting ECM is looking to spend far less on the technology. Roughly 34 percent of large organizations plan to spend $1 million or more on ECM over the next 12 to 18 months, whereas 54 percent of midsize firms expect to spend between $100,000 and $500,000 on content management software.

Given the bifurcation of the market, future studies of the "ECM" market would do well to study attitudes about different types of content management technologies rather than just lumping a range of technologies under the broad banner of ECM. Alternatives range in cost, complexity and focus from infrastructure-based systems such as Microsoft's planned SharePoint 2007, now set for release in October, to broad ECM suites encompassing everything from document management to e-mail archiving solutions. In between there are still plenty of packaged imaging and workflow-centric solutions aimed at horizontal business applications and vertical industry solutions as well as portals and business process management suites that include content management capabilities. As revealed in this month's Intelligent Enterprise cover story, Hide What's Inside, new alternatives are emerging for content management, so the term "ECM" may be long overdue for an overhaul.

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