Consumerization, Cloud and Mobile, and the Internet of Things Signal the End of the “ECM Era” by 2020

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New AIIM reports show the need for a new era beyond ECM, as organizations struggle to cope with content overload.

An explosion of content and information will usher in a new “post-ECM” Era by 2020, according to two new AIIM reports.

AIIM’s ECM Decisions Industry Watch revealed that for more than two-thirds of organizations, ECM/DM is seen as mission critical, and one-third of respondents say they would suffer serious disruption after an outage of just one hour. Seventy-five percent of organizations indicate that ECM/RM is a fundamental part of their information security regime.

Amidst this success, the enormous changes underway in the broader technology space -- driven by mobile, analytics, cloud and collaborative technologies – are changing the way organizations view ECM.

“There is no doubt that organizations still require their content to be managed properly, but the term ‘ECM’ is past its prime as a description of the revolution that is being driven by mobile, analytics, cloud and collaborative technologies,” said AIIM President John Mancini. “The ECM industry is in need of a new label and organizations are desperate for best practices to deal with the technology disruption that is occurring.”

The AIIM survey of 434 organizations also notes that as the focus of technology innovation has shifted to consumer technologies, critical ECM usability and adoption issues have emerged.. Sixty percent of respondents say that gaining user adoption has been a big problem for their ECM projects. Sixty-two percent of organizations with a significant ECM capability find that their knowledge workers still rely on file shares for day-to-day information access.

Among respondents, 52 percent have three or more ECM/DM/RM systems, and 22 percent have five or more. In addition, many have yet to link their more traditional ECM systems to mobile capabilities. While 39 percent have some degree of mobile access for content in ECM repositories, only five percent have widespread access for staff and project partners and less than 20 percent have comment, edit and process interaction capability that is app-based.

According to Mancini, “All of this data points to an industry in transition. There are still many organizations that can benefit from more traditional ECM solutions that automate document-intensive processes. But there is also an explosion of content outside the realm of these kinds of structured processes, along with a revolution occurring in how, where, and when knowledge workers do their jobs. Even among the current users of ECM technologies, 52 percent believe that within five years, ECM systems will be an undifferentiated part of the IT infrastructure.”

The Content Management 2020: Thinking Beyond ECM Trendscape probed the future role of ECM via a series of hypotheses/trends about the future of content and information management to 56 senior executives from Europe and North America and drawn from companies including Microsoft, IBM, Adobe and Box.

According to the Trendscape, the following trends will be in play by 2020 and should be at the top of enterprise technology planning agendas:

  • New approaches to privacy and security
  • Ubiquitous broadband connectivity
  • Bottom-up rather than top-down innovation
  • Lots more virtual and distributed work
  • A shortage of “connective” and analytic skills among IT staffs
  • A shift in how technology is purchased from multi-year capital expenditures to current year operating expenditures
  • Increased regulation of the cloud by national governments

The net impact of these trends on ECM will be significant. “Every organization, every executive, every individual, every object is on a digital journey and content is at the heart of that journey,” notes futurist Thornton May and Content Management 2020: Thinking Beyond ECM participant. “Content is ubiquitous and critical, but ECM is rapidly becoming invisible.”

“Organizations have always wrestled with how to manage the intersection of people, processes, and information, and over the past fifteen years we have called this set of technologies Enterprise Content Management, or ECM,” said AIIM President John Mancini. “But that time is almost over and we are entering a new era of ‘ECM’, that will more accurately reflect the changing landscape.”

The research for ECM Decisions was underwritten in part by Docfinity, EMC, Hyland, IBM, Kodak Alaris, Kofax, Konica Minolta and Sherpa. The full report is free to download at The survey was taken using a web-based tool by 434 individual members of the AIIM community in February and March 2015.

The Content Management 2020: Thinking Beyond ECM report is free to download at

About AIIM
AIIM has been an advocate and supporter of information professionals for 70 years. The association’s mission is to ensure that information professionals understand the current and future challenges of managing information assets in an era of social, mobile, cloud and big data. Founded in 1943, AIIM builds on a strong heritage of research and member service. Today, AIIM is a global, non-profit organization that provides independent research, education and certification programs to information professionals. AIIM represents the entire information management community, with programs and content for practitioners, technology suppliers, integrators and consultants.

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