How ECM Salves Your Company $7.50 for Every Dollar Spent
Yes, I know, it sounds too good to be true, but Nucleus Research has published these statistics. Over the past two decades, Nucleus Research say they have watched ECM evolve from highly-specialized and customized client-server applications with limited breadth to widely-used Cloud-based enterprise communication and collaboration solutions that are key to companies’ successes. Nucleus found that modern ECM delivers $7.50 for every dollar spent – and this figure continues to rise as ECM becomes more ubiquitous.
While the core capabilities of content management – document versioning, check-in and checkout, search, and workflow – have remained largely the same, as they were 10 years ago, advances in usability, scalability, and application delivery have dramatically changed the value proposition for ECM in the past few years. This is particularly important for small to mid-sized businesses that may have been less willing to invest than larger enterprises.
In fact, in reviewing published Nucleus ROI case studies on ECM since 2012, Nucleus found that companies received $7.50 back for every dollar spent on ECM – up 23 percent from just a couple of years ago. Nucleus’s analysis included all the case studies Nucleus has published on ECM projects including deployments spread across a wide array of large, medium, and small vendors. Customers analyzed were from a broad range of industries and included small, medium, and large enterprises.
Why ECM Delivers So Much ROI
ECM (also referred to as EDM, Electronic Document Management) has come a long way from the costly, consulting-intensive deployments of the late 1990s. A maturing market, more sophisticated and demanding buyers, and trends in technology delivery that have impacted other sectors as well have contributed to lower initial and ongoing cost and greater breadth and repeatability of ECM. Once only accessible to large firms with specialized IT resources and budgets for consulting-heavy implementations with signification customization, ECM is now available for a broad range of budgets and applications.
Vendors Have Invested in Usability
As traditional ECM solutions have matured, vendors have recognized that the key to broad adoption and ongoing investment in ECM is usability, and they’ve invested in making applications more intuitive and easy to use. This is evidenced by the fact that, just a few years ago, training was a significant budget item for many ECM projects. Today, most applications require limited, if any, training, and business users – not developers or business analysts – can manage hierarchies, configure workflows, and manage publishing on their own.
Broader usability has opened up the application of ECM to more business uses, and enabled companies to open up their ECM workflows and collaboration spaces to casual users. It has also enabled companies to extend ECM beyond internal users to partners, customers, and other outside collaborators, driving even greater returns.
ECM Is Even Better in the Cloud
Just as the rise of cloud solutions for CRM drove more rapid adoption and lower initial and ongoing costs, the growing momentum for cloud ECM has impacted the overall ECM market. In fact, more than half of the deployments included in this analysis were pure cloud ECM deployments.
Nucleus found that the cloud delivers 1.7 times more ROI than on-premise deployments, not just because of lower initial and ongoing costs but because of the ability to deliver greater benefit over time without the cost and disruption associated with traditional solution upgrades and changes. In the ECM space, this has meant companies can more easily expand the use of their applications to address more business challenges. They can also take advantage of vendor’s investments in innovation areas such as mobility, search, and text analytics to leverage even greater value from their initial ECM investment.
Today’s ECM Is More Intelligent
Advances in search, text analytics, and optical recognition have extended the capabilities of ECM to make applications more intelligent – and users more productive. Vendors such as Paper Alternative Solutions, for example, promote e-form capture and intelligent document recognition to dramatically reduce the amount of time and effort needed to bring volumes of content into ECM applications for processing and management. In some cases, this has meant companies can significantly reduce the staff time and effort associated with scanning and categorizing documents. In other cases, this has meant companies can address content management issues that simply weren’t cost-effective to support before, and do more with fewer resources.
ECM Is Has Gone Mainstream
Once limited to specific projects or departments, content management has become a broadly-used enterprise application. This trend is growing and is being driven by a number of factors:
- the availability of free or relatively low-cost Web ECM tools
- the integration of content management capabilities into other applications such as CRM and human capital management (HCM)
- the consumer adoption and understanding of Web content stores such as iTunes and Dropbox
As ECM becomes more expected by customers and consumers, businesses and organizations face increasing pressure to “go paperless.” At the same time, vendors are being required to differentiate the value of their premium capabilities and be sensitive to price points across industries and organization size. These factors make for good news for companies who want to embark on paperless technology.
The New Bottom Line – Productivity
Early ECM projects were often about eliminating paper and filing costs or meeting the document-heavy regulatory requirements of industries such as pharmaceuticals or aerospace and defense. Today they are all about productivity for all types of users – from sales people to HR professionals to enterprise consumers of content. As ECM becomes a core requirement for the enterprise, it will be used to address more business needs, offering the opportunity for even greater returns.
Companies and organizations of all sizes need to take advantage of the new economies of cloud ECM. Todays $7.50 return on every dollar invested in ECM is likely to continue to grow and improve business productivity for the foreseeable future. Organizations that don’t increase their productivity with paperless technology will be left behind.