Considerations for Legacy and Next Generation ECM Systems

How organizations are actually using their ECM

Recently AIIM and Alfresco came together to identify how legacy ECM systems may be holding organizations back. To begin, their report states that over 50% of organizations say that most of their content (documents, email, etc.) lives outside of their ECM system. You can see how this may be problematic since the purpose of an ECM system is to keep your content stored in one single repository, making it easier for users to interact with their content while maintaining Information Governance. Not only that but from an owner’s perspective, I understand the feeling of frustration from having put money, time, and effort into implementing a solution to help my employees, only to have that solution become abandoned because of its lack of features and a modern user interface.  In addition to that, over 50% also stated that their file share is one of their main content repositories. Thus, defeating the purpose of the ECM investment the organization undertook in the first place.

These are real concerns with legacy systems. Users expect more, like user-friendliness and modern ways of sharing data, and it is easy for them to become complacent about the Information Governance initiatives that lead to selecting an ECM. Instead many users turn to their personal file sharing application of choice, such as Box or OneDrive, and this can lead to major information governance and security issues. It can also lead to a headache for IT departments who are trying their hardest to combat these kinds of behaviors. So, what do organizations do?

A CEO’s perspective

As a CEO, my perspective on these things is different than that of the users. Users are concerned with the experience and interfaces they interact with. While those are very important to user adoption, where my concerns lie are on the impacts legacy ECMs have on an organization. Organizations spend a lot of time and money implementing their ECM systems. They spend even more money to continue to maintain these systems. Maintenance costs increase annually with little to no product innovation.  But what happens when that system is no longer supported? What happens when it can’t keep up with the needs of your organization? How do you keep your employees from not wanting to continually change the system, to “keep up with the Joneses” of the tech world? How do you make sure that your investment is being utilized properly by your employees so that you haven’t spent all that time and money for no reason?

These are all the questions that keep me up at night. Thankfully, we are starting to see positive trends across the organizations we serve.

What organizations are doing

The similar trend we are seeing across organizations is that they are proactively taking action. They have stopped waiting around until a problem is mission critical. Instead, we are seeing many of our clients actively deciding whether to salvage or scrap their current ECM.

We have seen many organizations make the move from their legacy systems to the new generation systems like Alfresco, iManage, and NetDocuments. Cloud offerings have seemed to be the main driver in most of these moves. While those organizations made the right choice in scrapping their old system and migrating to the new systems, we know there is a way to maintain your legacy ECM while also revitalizing the user experience. Scrapping an old system is a difficult decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but we are seeing an uptick in migrating to a variety of systems that will better meet the organization’s needs.

For our clients that have decided they can salvage their ECM, what we are seeing is a desire to merge their business processes across multiple systems.  Users have a desire to not be tied down to their archaic ECM user interfaces, and they are moving toward interacting with their content within the context of their business processes. By intertwining content into these different systems, it allows organizations to protect and extend the investment in their legacy ECM systems and, at the same time, provide new, innovative ways to keep up with user demands. For example, connecting cloud applications, like OneDrive, to integrate seamlessly to their legacy ECM system. This cost saving approach makes sense for those who have not completely grown out of their ECMs, but simply want to improve how their users, customers, and partners interact with their content.

What SeeUnity is Doing

At the time of SeeUnity’s inception, we foresaw the issues that would eventually arise with legacy systems, such as lack of innovation and poor user experience. That is why we developed our Content Integration Services, a powerful platform that connects into one or many ECM applications and allows companies to integrate their content by surfacing it into a more desirable interface or application, synchronize content between systems, or permanently migrate or consolidate their content into a new system.

Next steps

As we can see from the research from AIIM and Alfresco, legacy systems might be holding your organization back. If you are feeling this way, as a leader of an organization, your next step should be to evaluate your options. Is it more cost effective to revitalize your ECM with an integration? Or is it worth spending the big bucks to migrate systems? Take the time to evaluate the direction your organization is moving, what you need in an ECM, and what you are going to need from the vendor you choose. Don’t let your ECM hold you back in a world of quickly changing technology, and a very quickly changing ECM marketplace.