One of the legacies of the old Enterprise Content Management Software is believing that the value of these applications lies in providing a repository to store digital documents and metadata—freeing us from paper—that allows us to retrieve and catalogue this content.
This is not to say that this is not good or important, just that it is not enough. In the age we live in, time has become one of the variables that we all need to optimise. Time is money, and this is an obsession for companies. They seek efficiency, attempting to reduce this variable insofar as it does not affect the business’ quality or value added.
But companies are not the only ones obsessed, information workers are as well. Their work has become ever more diverse and sophisticated, making them eager to turn out more work in less time.
ECM software and Document Management systems must give companies and workers the answer they are looking for.
Let me give you a clear example: the dichotomy between having information on hand to use and the time it takes to fill it out. We have a document type with 50 metadata. Those 50 metadata are important for the client because they will allow them to create reports that will help in decision making and in determining their organisation’s performance. For the users on the other side, there are 50 metadata to fill out! Time, time, time. There is nothing easier than dragging and dropping a document in Dropbox and see you, I have 100 unanswered emails to get to.
How do we balance having the information and making less work for workers? The key is always the same: automation. There are different approaches, but the solution always lies in making machines do the work for people every time it is possible.
In this case, for example, we can use automatic metadata capture on the document text. In other cases, we could carry over metadata from other documents, etc. There is always an option for reducing users’ work without giving up information.
I believe that many ECM providers are starting to notice the need for change and are focusing on mobility, cloud infrastructure, big data, and collaboration. But, they are overlooking a fundamental element:
“ECM systems are for reducing manual work on documents, not just for storing, retrieving, or sharing documents”.
Automation is the answer to this autonomous ECM we are looking for. To reach this solution, we have to build the maps that ECM lacks and recognise that we need a more profound change than what is being proposed.