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The Paradigm Shift from ECM to Content Services

ECM, as we knew it, is passé. It’s time to move on to content services!

With increasing customer expectations and evolving business needs, the world of content management has undergone a disruptive shift. This paradigm shift is caused as much by the technological advancements as pervasiveness of digital. From the way your customers engage with you, to the way your workforce functions and your entire organization operates, everything has been disruptively transformed. It’s time to move on to a more modern way of managing content.

Here are ten indicators of this paradigm shift that make for a compelling case to transition to content services.

1) From: Content for transactional support

    To: Content for contextual engagement

The way organizations create, use, and share content, both internally and externally, has changed drastically. Contextual engagement has become a fundamental necessity for organizations. Hence, the purpose of content has shifted from providing support for transactions to being pivotal for contextual engagement.

2) From: Mostly paper-based documents

    To: Multi-format variants of content

The origin of traditional ECM is deeply rooted in the paper-driven process environment. Things have drastically changed since then. Today, organizations must process multiple formats of content, including paper documents, digital documents, e-mails, images, audio and video files, social content, and more. For instance, in insurance claims processing, an image or a video captured at an accident site is self-enclosed legal evidence, as well as a contextual piece of content that contains identification details and circumstantial information, such as location. 

3) From: Scanning, e-mail, and front-office

    To: Omnichannel input and output

As the number of content formats exploded, the way organizations ingest content has also multiplied, thanks to the plethora of devices and channels that customers and partners use to engage. Omnichannel experience is a basic expectation today. Your customers may start filing a loan application on their mobile device, switch to a laptop or a tablet midway, and still expect their uploaded documents to be available for further revision in real time on other devices.

You are expected to ensure that content is securely available in real time, across channel, any time, and from anywhere.

4) From: Internal-facing ECM

    To: A connected and extended enterprise

Long gone are the days when it was sufficient to manage content internally, isolated from the external world. The cumbersome user interfaces, that required training for usage, don’t work in today’s environment, where user manuals and usage instructions are passé. In addition to being omnichannel, organizations also need to operate in their environment as a wholly connected entity, extending beyond the boundaries of the enterprise.

This means that all relevant content must be securely accessible for your customer, partners, and other stakeholders, such as government agencies, regulatory authorities, and your shareholders, among others. 

5) From: Simple, linear workflows

    To: Collaboration and content-centric processes

Traditional ECM supported business processes through simple, linear workflows that typically followed a standard, pattern of creation, editing, sharing, and archiving documents, supplemented by additional functionalities, such as approvals and simple business rules. 

Organizations today face the challenge of seamlessly embedding content into business processes—made even more critical since most processes today are driven by context, which is expected to be extracted from content in real time.

Extensive real-time collaboration and content-centric processes mandate a different, modular and service-based approach, rendering traditional ECM obsolete.

6) From: Human intervention

    To: AI and ML-based intelligent cognitive services

The availability of cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), have led to realtime processing capabilities that were deemed improbable in the traditional ECM paradigm.

Traditional ECM forced organizations to set up large teams, tasked with processing the data contained within documents. This led to manual errors and inconsistencies, and also made it difficult to scale operations in tandem with increasing volumes, escalating costs, and lengthy cycle times.

With AI- and ML-driven cognitive services, organizations can achieve digital KYC (know your customer), identity verification, automated form filling, loan collateral assessment, credit document verification, claims processing, and more, all in real time.

This paradigm shift from mundane manual work to intelligent cognitive processing, though led by technological advancements, is also a fundamental customer expectation due to the native device capabilities available to them. 

7) From: A single, bulky repository

    To: A large-scale federated repository

The traditional models of storing documents in a single, large repository don’t scale in today’s omnichannel, geographically distributed, and extended enterprise environment.

Content services platforms provide the ability to store and search through large-scale deployments using a federated model. Multiple content repositories can be used by various teams across different departments and geographies. Distributed but connected repositories help users focus on “what” rather than “where,” thereby enabling knowledge work.

Federation is all the more critical for organizations today due to the deluge of content flowing in—preventing content sprawl and ensuring holistic search and access.

8) From: Monolithic and self-contained architecture

    To: Modular services-based architecture

One of the biggest challenges associated with traditional ECM has been the rigidity of its monolithic architecture, leading to opaque, self-contained systems that are cumbersome to maintain and upgrade.

Content service platforms, with their modular and service-oriented architecture, fulfill today’s demands for omnichannel, contextual, and real-time transactions and engagement. These services can be consumed by applications and processes, both internally and externally, facilitating anytime, anywhere availability of content.

The most important aspect of these content services is that they enable organizations to create end-to-end, content-centric business processes, fulfilling the requirement of a holistic customer journey.

9) From: Mostly on-premises deployment

   To: Cloud and hybrid deployments

Cloud continues to be a key driver of the paradigm shifts across technologies. Traditional on-premises deployments have proven to be too limiting for organizations that want infrastructural scalability and secure, anytime, anywhere access to content.

Organizations should have the flexibility to consider all the deployment options, ranging from private cloud and hybrid, virtualized environments to public cloud hosting, SaaS models on public cloud, and even traditional, on-premises deployment.

10) From: Coding-heavy implementation projects

      To: Rapid, low code-powered application development

The traditional, monolithic architecture of ECM not only made the system inflexible and opaque, it limited the ability to develop applications that consumed documents. Any aspirational programs to consume and access content through applications turned out to be cumbersome and coding-heavy, leading to further challenges with maintenance and upgrades.

Content services platforms thrive on rapid application development, powered by low code capabilities, where pro-grade developers can build complex, content-driven, and customer-engaging business applications without heavy coding. 

This is further supported by the platform’s extensive process automation and cognitive intelligence capabilities that help develop end-to-end, omnichannel, and content-centric processes and applications.

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