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Why does the ECM software industry need to change? – Part 2 Complexity

Below, I list what situations or common practices in the ECM software industry can and should change to improve our customers' experience.
industria del software ECM / ECM software industry
Picture of Veronica Meza

Veronica Meza

A few days ago, I started a series of articles in which I want to give my point of view on what is not being done well in the ECM industry and what should change to improve the experience we offer to our customers.

If you didn’t read the first part, you can do so in Why the ECM software industry needs to change?. Here is the second reflection:

An industry where every technological challenge is solved with a new licence or a new application

Resources are limited and this is true for almost everything in life. In the organisational context even more so: there are limited budgets, tight deadlines, teams that have to spread out as best they can to get as much work done as possible. This reality leaves companies in a difficult situation in our sector when a new need arises. For example, the company needs to automatically generate documents relating to the procurement of its products. We are talking about documents, business people might think ‘this must be something the document manager does’ and go to their manufacturer to ask. The answer is usually, ‘Yes, don’t worry. You can do that with module XXXX, you will have to buy licenses for the module…’. Another case, data capture: ‘No, our product does not do that, but we have integration with XXXXX. Shall I pass you the contact?

The impact of having different applications or modules to cover one need

In both cases outlined in the previous section, the business user as well as IT usually face two challenges:

  • Budget: licensing is costly, either for additional modules or, even worse, in case they have to purchase a completely new product.
  • Technological complexity: adding new applications or modules adds complexity to the organisation’s IT architecture/structure. Different applications run on different technologies, require adhoc integrations (or product integrations if lucky), require the team to know and learn about the maintenance of various tools, etc.

 

Why can’t the document manager or digital content platform cover the whole spectrum of the content lifecycle (capture, management, storage, delivery, archiving)? And to this question you could answer: ‘because an application that focuses on a specific problem (e.g. capture or BPM), usually solves it better. If we use the document management functionality for XXXX, we will fall short’. And here I invite you to invest a little bit in exploring the real needs you have, if they are really so ‘complex or sophisticated’. In our experience, it is only in exceptional cases that the needs are so, and even in these cases, it is always possible to split the problem and find a more optimal solution that does not add excessive costs for tools that will be under-utilised and add further technological complexity.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL, or at least it shouldn’t be. So when we made the decision – a risky one to say the least – to build an ECM platform in a sector full of very big fish, and to stop implementing other third-party platforms, we made a number of design and policy commitments:

  • Design a platform that allows users to meet common and reasonable needs around their digital documents or content, from capture to preservation and archiving.
  • Not to create additional modules, simply functionality, that we or our customers would find additional things to maintain and care for.
  • Don’t charge for the software, just for the use. You don’t have to pay extra licenses to use another module or application, you pay for the service you consume in some cases, for example OCR or Blockchain.

In the next article, I will delve into more reasons about the need for transformation in the ECM software industry.