Part 1 of 4
By Kim Crowley
Enterprises produce and receive vast amounts of information in paper and electronic forms daily. Enterprise content management (ECM) solutions help organizations perform best with the ability to quickly and efficiently manage and collaborate important information.
"ECM provides users with common desktop applications, easy-to-use templates, and simple creation and capture procedures—making search and retrieval faster and more efficient," says Paul Danola, president, Metavante Image Solutions. In addition, EMC performs workflow and lifecycle management to control the review, revision, and approval of content according to user-defined rules.
Types of Offerings
ECM serves a wide range of needs and solutions through its various forms—on-site software installations, open source solutions, and software as a service (SaaS).
"Certainly these are each viable business models depending on requirements that include regulatory and security considerations, cash flow, capture requirements—how documents are obtained from sources, as well as internal IT structure," says Steve Leichtman, senior VP, Clearview Software. Organization should consider a solution that integrates a combination of these considerations. "Companies with limited cash flow and IT capacity may favor a SaaS model, assuming its regulatory and security issues are met. Those that do have the IT capacity or prefer to customize the ECM and are more comfortable with controlling their own security environment are likely purchase an on-premise model," adds Leichtman.
Chris Ryan, VP of marketing, SpringCM speaks to the benefits of a SaaS ECM model, noting cost structure as its primary advantage. "SaaS is sold on a subscription basis—not on a license basis—so you don’t put out all of the money up front." Ryan notes that organizations often pay for SaaS out of an operational versus capital expenditure budget so they end up paying for the service in real time as they gain its benefits.
"The current economic climate has become the perfect storm for ECM as SaaS," states A.J. Hyland, president/CEO, Hyland Software. "Businesses are looking for a technology to improve efficiency quickly and without a big investment. Because SaaS is commonplace in both our everyday lives and our businesses, it’s more accepted and in demand. Some analysts say the total cost of ownership for SaaS is lower than an on-premise one," adds Hyland.
"SaaS largely moves the responsibility for managing IT infrastructure, mass storage, and disaster recovery from the customer to us, which many see as a major plus," notes Stacey Zengel, GM, Imaging Solutions, Jack Henry. "The con of SaaS is the customer has less control of the environment. Box software solutions provided the inverse—more control of the environment but also more responsibility for the environment."
"While licensed software solutions require an up-front purchase, they can provide a lower total ownership cost over the product lifetime," says Danola. "Licensed software solutions can provide a higher level of system integration, higher degree of customization, and increased user control. The primary risk with SaaS solutions is supplier viability and supplier reliability," he warns.
"Box software solutions tend to have more robust features and are more scalable and customizable than SaaS solutions," states Andrea Leggett, senior product marketing manager, Content Management and Archiving Division, EMC Corporation. "SaaS solutions are typically suited for vanilla type implementations but cannot meet unique business requirements. This is why you see smaller organizations implementing SaaS solutions over larger ones that have years of custom coding built into their application infrastructure."
Leggett says that some companies are concerned that SaaS ties them to the vendor. "When the vendor upgrades the software, some companies are either forced to accept or were blindsided to changes. With a box software solution, the customer chooses when to upgrade their software."
Open source solutions are also available. These solutions, offered by companies such as Nuxeo, are a free ECM software download. Products are available under open-source LGPL license. Users can build and run a range of ECM applications. Nuxeo customers can benefit by purchasing Nuxeo Connect service plans, which are available in three different tiers varying in levels of support response time and services.
"Out-of-the-box software solutions are advantageous to businesses that are looking to implement content management solutions, whether the implementation is for a department or across the entire enterprise. ECM technology is mature, reliable, and proven," says Jim Thumma, VP, sales and marketing, Optical Image Technology (OIT).
He adds, "In contrast, open source, SaaS, and SharePoint are promising technologies, but each has major gaps. Open source has tremendous potential, but it lacks expertise and experience in the vertical markets and seems to be caught up in adding new features rather than adding depth to the existing product line. SaaS is great for document archiving, but it hasn’t yet been adopted or accepted as a full ECM platform model. SharePoint is a powerful tool for collaboration, but it is not a viable ECM solution yet. All three options that provide alternatives to traditional ECM models—open source, SaaS, and SharePoint—are currently highly touted in the media, but are mostly driven by hype from eager vendors rather than by end user organizations," says Thumma.
More on ECM
With a variety of ECM models to choose from, organizations are likely to find a solution that best fits their needs. Next week, we discuss the business challenges tackled by ECM solutions, and the primary reasons enterprises decide to take the time and money to invest in ECM. In addition, look out for the full-featured version of this piece, available in the July/August issue of DPS.
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