How ECM is Revolutionizing Organizations

Thomas Phelps IV, VP of Corporate Strategy & CIO, Laserfiche
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Thomas Phelps IV, VP of Corporate Strategy & CIO, Laserfiche

The benefits of cloud computing for ECM, and how has Laserfiche embraced it

Cloud computing has several benefits including being able to rapidly provision and scale services on-demand—without the complexity, cost and timeframes to standup new infrastructure.

At Laserfiche, we use our own software internally for everything from travel and expense management to new IT service requests. We announced Laserfiche Cloud, a SaaS ECM solution, at our worldwide Empower Conference in January 2014. Since then, we’ve embraced a “cloud-first” strategy for product development. Laserfiche Cloud includes web forms, forms-enabled workflow, content services, records management, audit trail and many other features.

Most organizations have high hopes for using big data analytics in their ECM but many have had challenges in deploying it. What are your thoughts on this

The industry’s ability to leverage big data analytics with ECM is still maturing—especially with many ECM implementations that still involve multiple, disparate repositories and no single “source of truth” for transactional content. Companies often have more than one ECM system from different vendors because they couldn’t find a single product that address different use cases, capabilities and needs. Laserfiche provides a feature-rich, integrated software suite that provides analytics from its transactional content, while integrating with other applications to support big data analytics initiatives.

  ​ECM can provide the central system of record for transactional content that includes robust security, audit trail and records management   

What are some steps to take for ECM to foster companies’ innovation and growth

Many companies use ECM to digitize/organize documents and create a “paperless office.” This doesn't add significant value other than expediting document searches and reducing filing storage costs.

Companies should scale up the maturity curve on ECM adoption to harness the benefits of the technology. We need to shift the conversations about ECM to not just “enabling a digital workplace,” but to “driving business transformation” with integrated case management, content analytics and collaboration tools.

What are some of the other technologies you think should be adopted in the near future

Many organizations have only began to scratch the surface in leveraging all the capabilities of ECM in their business. ECM provides purpose-built solutions that are integrated in one suite, which works seamlessly to provide a robust user experience. You can start a business process—such as claims processing—with a form or document, use workflow to dynamically route/approve requests, collaborate using embedded discussion/messaging tools, sign documents with digital signatures, and apply records retention schedules for archival and audit purposes. 

With your rich experience of managing IT organizations and steering technology, can you please share some of the unique lessons learned and your advice for fellow CIOs

CIOs should recognize that it’s not the technology that the business cares about. There's always going to be a shiny new object—a new collaboration app, marketing automation solution, BI tool--that someone will try to sell you.

I have often seen an IT organization rip out one technology platform for another that serves the same purpose, and see repeated failures and poor user adoption with the new solution. Our customers and stakeholders—marketing, sales and operations organizations—want true business enablement and value, not another technology solution that they have to learn how to use. Often, you end up automating a bad business process—you just do it poorly much faster. When deploying a new technology solution, look at how you can re-engineer business processes to provide tangible business benefits, while managing and communicating change effectively with stakeholders.

How has the role of a CIO has changed over the years looking into the technology paradigm shift

With the convergence of mobile, social and cloud, the CIO’s role is to create a culture of technology innovation that enables business transformation and a frictionless experience. The “I” in C-I-O has evolved from “Information” to “Innovation.” This is more than just a “cloud first” strategy. It’s about creating a digital business strategy.

CIOs today need to be change agents. They need to have both the business acumen and change management skills to articulate a vision for innovation, and solve real problems that the business cares about. Innovative CIOs recognize that for technology to truly deliver business value, it needs to increase the business’ capability and capacity to drive results.

How can technology be used to mitigate rising ECM costs

To optimize ECM costs, leverage the full suite of capabilities in modern ECM systems to replace “one-off” applications for web forms, workflow, social collaboration, digital signatures and other areas. Modern ECM applications contain purpose-built solutions and business process library templates for contract management, HR onboarding, invoice processing, records management, case management and other areas.

Is ECM software at a crisis or a crossroads

The ECM vendor landscape has dramatically shifted with a wave of industry acquisitions and consolidations that have often impacted product innovation. In many cases, the industry has seen that one size doesn’t fit all when faced with traditionally large, complex ECM implementations. Content has become more distributed as it shifts from back office to line of business applications across an extended business ecosystem that includes business affiliates, partners, suppliers and customers.

As a privately-held company, Laserfiche has made significant investments in product innovation to provide a fully integrated ECM suite that enables case management, collaboration and content analytics. We’ve anticipated this market shift from legacy, monolithic ECM systems to content services for a digital business era that includes mobile, social and cloud.

What role does ECM play in content strategy

ECM plays a critical role in content strategy. Content today is pervasive across BPM (business process management), case management, EFSS (enterprise file sync and share) and social/collaboration applications that supports a company’s various line of business and back office needs. Along with its more innovative capabilities, ECM can provide the central system of record for transactional content that includes robust security, audit trail and records management. 

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