We used to know them as ‘scanning solutions’. With the advent of the CD in the mid-80’s, there suddenly arrived a new medium for storing data which ensured that the data could not be tampered with.
Many software vendors jumped on this ‘bandwagon’ and began to provide solutions for storing data on tamper-proof CD’s.
Initially, the solutions were all about storing output from core applications, output such as daily reports, financial statements, etc. The concept became known as COLD – Computer Output to Laser Disc. With automatic indexing of such information, business users found a way to store and instantly retrieve the documents which had historically been printed and stored on A3 listing paper.
The growth of digital content storage
As the cost of scanning hardware began to tumble, software vendors quickly adapted their document management solutions to accommodate scanned documents as well as COLD.
Fast-forward a few years, and other types of correspondence such as emails and MS-Office documents began to be stored in the same systems.
Today, Document Management solutions have become known as Content Management or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions. They provide the ability to store electronically all types of documentation associated with a business, and to make that information available instantly to anyone who is allowed to view it.
This ‘single source of truth’ has become the backbone of most organisations, from Financial Services to Logistics to Hospitals, and indeed any type of business where quick and easy access to documentation is essential. Many business users may not even know where their content is held – they could easily be accessing it directly from their core application via an invisible API.
Of course, easy access isn’t the only driver; Business Continuity Planning relies heavily on documentation being held safely and securely in the event of fire, flood or some other form of disaster. Customer Service is vastly improved when an agent has all relevant information at their fingertips when answering a call from a customer – and businesses live or die depending on the level of customer service they provide.
What to seek in a modern Enterprise Content Management solution?
To meet the demands of highly-regulated and complex segments such as Financial Services, Healthcare and the like, organizations need to sort through contending ECM software products by applying a rigorous set of benchmarks:
Data Volume – Can the ECM software handle huge amounts of data every hour, every day, automatically storing it securely for 24/7 retrieval?
Compliance –Does the solution help cope with information governance regulations by letting you easily implement compliance essentials?
Data Mining – Does it allow you to mine vast amounts of data from countless documents, applying multiple ranges and parameters to find exact results?
Records Management – Does records management become far more streamlined, allowing users to pick which documents and data are securely retained, for how long, and even set up automatic deletion upon data expiry?
Workflow Management – Does the workflow capability of the ECM software permit both simplified document routing and complex Business Process Management (BPM), giving users flexibility to accommodate different process needs?
It could be said that the right ECM solution is not only relevant to the paperless organisation, it is instrumental in facilitating the paperless organisation.