(Digital Transformation: the definite chance for ECM)
In my own experience, the issue of document management, or more broadly expressed, ECM (Enterprise Content Management) was for years, for most companies, the ever pending project, always foreseen to be tackled next year.
CIOs were very aware of the importance of this tool, but it looked like there was always another system that came up to be incorporated more urgently, maybe the Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or the Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP), or any other one.
CIOs were also very well aware that an ECM solution should be rather a corporate and global solution than just a black box to solve the needs of the legal department, or those of the accounting department responsible of the invoices to be paid. What it was needed was an integrated platform of services to cope with all the tasks related with the management of documents, integrated also with the existing infrastructure and the core applications, and able to provide to the users a whole set of services that would help them to be more productive, in the capture, the consultation and the archiving of documents. Obviously this approach was the good one, but at the same time it was the approach that resulted in a more complex and budget consuming project, and also that required more effort, time, and planning. So: next year.
Meanwhile, it was quite normal that those departments decided to get by and solve their own problem, using their own budget, buying a departmental ECM, sometimes escaping from the control of the IT, ignoring completely the IS architecture, and thus making it impossible that their solution could later grow up to become the corporate ECM solution, or at least an integrated part of it.
Does this sound familiar?
The fact is that by some or other means, or by quirk of fate, most of the big companies have succeeded in the last years to build their corporate ECM solution. At least that is what I thought until few weeks ago, as I had not any evidence that the big ECM platforms providers (Oracle, IBM, and the like) were doing good business by selling them. Rather the contrary.
That was my view, at least for the financial sector in Spain, that is I work for, but recently I have had the opportunity to speak with responsible managers of Organization and Innovation departments belonging to two main companies in this sector in Spain, and also share some information with Capgemini colleagues in France involved currently in projects for similar institutions in that country, and I see that ECM is again in the target. This time it looks it is not once more for next year, but for today.
There are several reasons: the first one is that due to the merging and acquisitions occurred during the last years mainly in the banking sector but also in the insurance world, now the resulting companies have a mess of documents, caused by the physical archival of papers in their branches, in their headquarters and in their distributed and centralized stores. The second one is that because of that concentration process they have now to cope with dissimilar ECMs and solutions. The third reason is that, after all, they had not really succeeded building up a consistent and integrated ECM corporate platform, and they see now that is a very valuable tool to gain in efficiency, reduce costs and demonstrate best practices and regulatory compliance.
But maybe the most important reason is that it is the time for Digital Transformation projects as a mandatory way to use new technologies (mainly mobile, but not only), to adapt to the new customer way of interacting with the company. That requires rethinking the ways of doing things to provide a consistent and exciting digital experience to the customers, across all channels, and to redefine business processes to make them paper free. All of this opens new opportunities both for the financial companies and for the IS and knowledge partners like Capgemini, that can help them to benefit from experience gain in many digital transformation projects all over the world.