Information is the lifeblood of any knowledge-based business. But gaining information is only a small part of the process. Knowing how to store, access and utilise data is, at the end of the day, critical to the success or failure of an enterprise.

With more and more information at our disposal, we are in danger of slowing down rather than speeding up our business processes. It is the equivalent of the modern day traffic jam; there is so much traffic on congested roads that modern day cars move at a slower pace than the horse and carriage of yesteryear.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Information overload is the digital equivalent of a traffic jam says @PaulDHampton” user=”comparethecloud”]

In fact, information community association AIIM says that due to the enormous amount of information we create today, we are becoming less efficient, rather than more. It estimates that ‘lost’ documents at work cost the UK economy £15bn every year. It seems that the more tools we have at our disposal – tablets, phones, laptops, home PCs – then the more inefficient we are becoming at sharing and using the information we produce on them.

Modern Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions must accommodate new ways of working. IT departments are under tremendous pressure to support a new class of connected, tech-savvy employees whose expectations for ease of use have been shaped by consumer web-based applications. Today’s employees want to find and share business documents as easily as they can share photographs with their friends or browse and buy a book online.

This new working paradigm is being further transformed by an influx of Millennials. These digital natives – born in 1983 or later – grew up on intuitive, modern apps like Instagram, Snapchat or Uber. Millennials are highly mobile, very connected, and want IT solutions that allow them to get their work done independent of location, network, and device. Their expectations for ease of content access intensify the pressure on IT organisations to modernise their ECM strategy.

It is estimated that ‘lost’ documents at work cost the UK economy £15bn every year

The risk for IT is that if they do not deliver solutions that deliver to the user expectations, and make it easy to share with people outside the organisation or make it easy to access content on mobile devices when outside the office, end users will find their own tools. These unsanctioned tools lead to the proliferation of disconnected information silos and greatly increases the risk associated with confidential information.

But whilst ECM tools are fine in themselves, we now also have access to Business Process Management (BPM) capabilities, which help to structure and unblock potential information silos. Whilst BPM is not new, it is becoming more sophisticated and adaptable as time goes on. Adding BPM capabilities to content management tools helps to move work to users who need access to the relevant information, and speeds the flow of information around the workplace. It is the true democratisation of the office.

Aiming for the clouds

Enterprise IT has been transformed by successive technology waves. First, cloud computing changed everything. Now, mobile devices are rewriting the rules of corporate IT. The realities of today’s enterprise architecture demand a new approach to ECM / BPM that is in synch with how IT supports the modern business.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Leading analysts like @IDC and @Forrester predict a major shift to #hybrid enterprise #content management.” user=”PaulDHampton”]

To better support mobile users and external partners, many companies are moving some of their business content to the cloud. Leading analysts like IDC and Forrester predict a major shift to hybrid enterprise content management. The next generation approach involves storing content both on premises and in the cloud, with seamless syncing between the two locations. Hybrid ECM and BPM meets IT’s need for control and compliance, while freeing business users and external collaborators to be more productive.

In the past, BPM, ECM and case management (also called dynamic case management (DCM) platforms) have traditionally been separate systems, whilst sharing some common architectural components. Whilst DCM and ECM platforms emphasise tooling for content management, recording and tracking dynamic unstructured collaboration of multiple functional groups, BPM suites include the stronger tooling required to codify structured, repeatable processes, workflows and tasks. It has the added capabilities to analyse and control execution and performance.

IDC estimates that by 2020, 13% of all data will be stored in the cloud, 61% will be stored on-premises, and the remainder will be ‘touched by the cloud’ (ie processed or transmitted)

Analyst company 451 Research sees a growing integration between BPM, DCM and ECM platforms, driven by cloud content sharing capabilities. The convergence of these systems and markets will form a common framework for application development and integration of all types in response to increasing enterprise demand for vendor and technology consolidation.

A look inside any modern data centre confirms that one size does not fit all. Today’s ECM systems need to support traditional on-premises deployments, virtualised environments, private cloud deployments and fully fledged public-cloud SaaS deployments – and everything in between.

IDC estimates that by 2020, 13% of all data will be stored in the cloud, 61% will be stored on-premises, and the remainder will be ‘touched by the cloud’ (ie processed or transmitted). Flexible implementation options give IT the agility to address evolving business needs over time.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Data will soon be ‘touched by the cloud’ at the very least says @IDC” user=”comparethecloud and @PaulDHampton”]

Enterprises utilising hybrid cloud based ECM / BPM solutions are much more able to keep control of their data in a scalable and flexible manner. To be effective, cloud information management processing needs to be available anytime and from anywhere; process optimisation choices need to be as rich as they are in the enterprise.

Less paperwork for all

Employees prefer electronic collaboration too. A recent report from digital media company Adobe found that people despise paperwork so much, they would be willing to leave their job for another with equivalent compensation ‘if only the benefit were dramatically less administrative work’. It seems that almost two-thirds of us (69%), whether in the UK or US, are sufficiently fed-up with administration to jump to an employer with less form filling and filing to do.

BPM processes can really help here.  It’s a way of making the whole process more streamlined for everyone and giving people more time to focus on the more fulfilling aspects of their work. The new generation of iBPM – or intelligent Business Process Management – is going to take the process one-step further, using social media, collaboration, mobility, analytics and cloud services to enable completely connected workplaces.

[easy-tweet tweet=”We are looking towards creating a true Knowledge Age economy” user=”PaulDHampton”]

Gartner’s research, gathered over hundreds of interviews with clients of all sizes around the globe, found that successful BPM projects have seen at least double-digit ROI. More than three-quarters of projects reported an ROI of more than 15%, with a similar proportion claiming an increase in competitive advantage. The soft benefits were also tangible, with benefits across customer retention, employee satisfaction, and transparency, all linked to positive customer business outcomes.

As the workplace becomes more diverse, sophisticated and interconnected, it seems improved businesses processes are the next phase in creating a true Knowledge Age economy.