The world of enterprise content management, or ECM, is constantly changing. For example, whenever new technology is developed or legislation regarding document retention is passed, ECM evolves, whether it’s out of new capability or necessity. In recent and upcoming years, 5 trends with longevity have been or soon will be developed. Hybridization in ECM solutions will be embraced, there will be more usage of ECM systems in the energy and power sectors of the economy, code-free integrations will revolutionize office processes, transactional collaboration will become easier than ever, and the rate of return on ECM investments will continue to grow.

  1. When document management software debuted, it was basically a place to digitally store an organization’s information that traditionally would have been on paper in a filing cabinet. It quickly became clear, though, that storage was not enough. Users have to be able to leverage the information in their documents. Co-workers need access to the same file to collaborate; clients need to review, sign, and return agreements; and mobile workers need to refer to documents while out in the field. The need is so great that many resort to using their own devices and a consumer-grade file sync and share (FSS) application unsanctioned by their organization. They often have to save a file from the organization’s on-premises ECM system to the FSS, creating a redundancy that lacks the security measures that protected confidential information in the original. Furthermore, any changes that are made within the FSS may not make it back to the ECM, and users waste time searching multiple applications for the correct version of a file. The solution that has recently emerged is a hybrid ECM system, combining the fortitude of an on-premise ECM system with the flexibility of a Cloud storage solution. Authorized users have access to all the information they need, whether they are in the office, off-site meeting a client, or even at home catching up on work. The sensitive information in the files is secure, and any alterations will be saved at the source. The increased efficiency that a hybrid ECM system offers will allow organizations to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of the business world. 
  1. More ECM in Energy Industries. Energy industries are growing at an exponential rate due to both population increase and more demand for various types of fuel. As the demand for energy grows, so does the amount of documentation required for business function. To make matters more complicated, energy companies must meet numerous regulatory, operational, and legal requirements. In coming years, companies in the energy industry will more widely implement ECM systems to get faster access to information and stricter adherence to industry standards, thereby staying on top of their continuous influx of data. 
  1. Code-Free Integration. Having all your files on your computer is a huge improvement on physical filing cabinets, but it’s just another application among many that you’ll be clicking between all day long. Unless you have more than one monitor or a master coder to integrate applications for you, this has been the fate of ECM users, but no more. Modern ECM solutions are now developing the ability to integrate with other applications, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), so that all your data is in a single view. 
  1. Transactional Collaboration. Especially in the world of finance, transactional documents are constantly being shuffled from one party to the next, needing reviews, alterations, payments, signatures, and so on. In fact, early ECM systems focused heavily on helping organize businesses that were weighed down by huge amounts of transactional documents. While processing documents used to be enough, now more emphasis is placed on collaborating on them. ECM systems will continue to make transactional collaboration simpler, storing each of the related documents in one central data repository, all electronically. All the paper shuffling will be reduced to a few clicks of a mouse.
  1. Increased Cost Efficiency. A study by Nucleus Research shows that companies that invest in ECM systems can expect a 750% return. Such an impressive ROI may be hard to believe, but the cost of some ECM systems has gone down significantly with the move to Cloud technology. There is no longer any need to purchase hardware upfront, and your subscription is scalable as your needs grow. Plus, because the Cloud-based systems are often billed as a monthly subscription, it can come out of your operational budget rather than the capital budget. As an added bonus, newer ECM systems feature improved functions that increase efficiency and, in turn, profitability.

As an ECM provider, we at eFileCabinet pride ourselves on keeping up with the current trends shaping the world of document management. As we constantly implement the latest technology, you can be sure your files are managed in an ECM system that is ahead of the curve.