Go Green with Document Management

How ECM & Content Services Drive Business Value

Posted by Mike Paperalt on Oct 8, 2019 11:00:00 AM

 

Introduction

How much content does your organization manage daily?  We’re talking about emails, invoices, reports, spreadsheets, documents, videos, slide decks, and all the other content forms that hold your organizational data and information.  Regardless of what your business does, content and data drive it!  Organizations thrive or fail based on their ability to effectively manage their content and make smart decisions based on the data within the content, while efficient processes enable management and staff to carry out the decisions.   

Electronic Content Management (ECM) offers a systematic approach to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver information related to business processes. Automation tools within many modern ECM platforms allow processes to be automated, speeding results while reducing errors and costs.  When it comes to business processes, especially core business processes, accurate information and efficiency are key to organizational success.

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These content management and efficiency goals that most organizations want to achieve with an ECM strategy are desirable in all organizations. The ECM provides a centralized enterprise-wide platform that can meet one these primary goals associated with the utilization of “content” as well as these additional goals:

  1. Regulatory compliance and risk management
  2. Retention and dissemination of business knowledge
  3. Cost and process efficiencies
  4. Innovation and new ways of working

Innovation and New Ways of Working

Today, however, it’s not enough to “manage” content, improve efficiencies, compliance, retention and dissemination.   Today’s business environment requires innovation and entirely new ways of working.

This transition of ECM toward content services is driven as much by a new way of thinking about information management as it is about new technologies. While ECM focused on the preservation and protection of content, content services build on that and use innovative technological advances to extend the focus to include information access, sharing, collaboration and automation. 

While content control is still necessary, today content services must accompany and augment the content.  Gartner defines this services-oriented approach as a “...set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and number use cases across an organization.” 

We simplify this by saying simply that “an ECM is only as good as the applications it can interface with.” For instance, if your accounting software can’t access the invoices stored in your ECM, how will it be able to pay the bills?  If your electronic webforms can’t access your ECM to store data, will someone have to key the data in? 

Three Services-Oriented Automation Tools

Those of you who regularly read our blog posts know that our ECM of choice is ImageSilo®.  Here are the three automation tools that we use to integrate other applications with ImageSilo: 

  1. Automation Manager

The Automation Manager allows you to create an electronic “user” who logs into your applications to perform tasks that were previously done by human users—and this ‘bot user works nonstop! For example, your “bot” can perform data entry, complete research, or compare information between two systems to flag irregularities. The possibilities are endless.  Our clients just need to let us know what they’re working on and we’ll help them get it setup!

  1. Integration Manager

If you don’t need to automate tasks but do want to easily share information back and forth between applications, the Integration Manager is the key. This tool allows you to pull images from your ECM  into your line-of-business (LOB) application as well as update index information for those images on-the-fly without switching back and forth between applications. In addition, you can pass information from your document management application to your LOB application and vice versa, which saves you from hand-keying information multiple times in multiple systems. You can even upload new files and images to your repository directly from the LOB application.

  1. Integration Definitions

Just want to retrieve and display a document associated with a record in LOB application? Integration Definitions make it point-and-click easy to “image enable” any line-of-business application. For example, you can pull a copy of a scanned invoice to compare to the transaction record in your accounting application using hotkeys or the clipboard.

ECM to Content-Services is NOT a Do-over!

It should also be very clear that content services do not take the place of your existing enterprise content management system. This is an evolution in ECM solutions. It’s not about getting rid of what  you have and starting over.  It’s about building on the investments you’ve already made in ECM systems—enhancing the value in those systems by integrating new capabilities. If your ECM solutions have allowed you to capture, manage, store and preserve content through the organization, content services can extend that and improve information sharing, automation, collaboration and analytics.

The real change is about advancing technology and capabilities.  It’s also about asking different questions related to the use of content within your organization—and how being able to integrate LOB solutions can give you the answers you need. Traditional ECM software was focused on the capture, storage and management of content. Content services, on the other hand, address very different questions: “How do I give users access to the information they need, when and where they need it, and in a format that’s easy for them to work with?”

Benefits of a Services-Oriented Approach to ECM

A content- services approach to ECM enables organizations to realize the full value of the content and data they have available to them. Rather than isolating content in a separate repository where it’s often out of context for the business processes that need to access it , content-service technologies are a major step forward in connecting people, processes and content across organizations—and with their customers, suppliers and other business partners. Key benefits include:

  • Empowered workers – These new technologies enable delivery of the right content to the right people at the right time. Users can access and interact with the content they need from within the application they’re using through integrated work-spaces.
  • Improved information access and sharing – ‘bots, intelligent automation and metadata mean that content is managed through its entire process flow and life-cycle, including externally with customers and partners as required by your specific business requirements.

Conclusion

If you're still managing content and haven't started a content-services upgrade to your ECM, what are you waiting for?  Contact us today for more information.  

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Topics: Document Management, ECM, ImageSilo, Office Automation, Information Management

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