Building an ECM Strategy Webinar Follow-up

Two  weeks ago I spoke on a webinar hosted by SpringCM.  My presentation focused on how to take a structured and methodical approach to defining and executing an ECM strategy. You can download the slides I used slides below, and/or if you prefer listen to the recorded webinar here.

As is always is the case when I speak on a webinar , I intended to provide repsonses to all unanswered questions posed by the audience, here in my blog.  Well, history was made two weeks ago. For the first time, all questions were answered during the one hour time slot. (You can listen to the webinar complete with Q and A here.)

So, this follow-up blog post focuses exclusively on the results of the quick polls we took of the approximately 200 attendees during the webinar.

It is interesting to note, right from the start, that  nearly half (47%) of the audience members worked in organizations that had an ECM strategy.

Why is this interesting? For a few reasons. First, it indicates that the ECM market still has lots of legs, and that the need to build a deliberate strategy for leveraging the capabilities of ECM still exists in many organizations . In fact, the fact that the 47% that have a strategy nonetheless attended this webinar indicates, IMHO, that a need to maintain that strategy and weigh new options is a important to many organizations. Again, IMHO, this is a best practice, to keep the ECM strategy green by continuously updating it in order to take advantage of lessons learned and emerging new technologies and techniques (among these today SharePoint and Cloud Computing.)

The value of having an ECM strategy is reflected in the percentage of organizations that have or  plan to have document-based applications between themselves and customers and partners.

I believe it is no coincidence that 48% of the webinar audience indicated that they planned on having document-based applications with their customers and partners. This is likely the same group (note the 1% difference in groups)  that indicated that they had an existing ECM strategy.  An organization might be able to cobble by with a lackadaiscal approach to managing its business content, but when that content is integrated into serious business applications, especially those that involve outside parties, a defined strategy for managing the content is essential.

As mentioned above, SharePoint represents a new offering in the ECM strategy equation. It is clearly a technology that has garnered much attention. So, we asked those webinar attendees that indicated that they had an ECM strategy, if SharePoint was a component of that strategy. The results were a bit surprising. Only 57% indicated that it was.

I say the results are surprising because most other market data concerning the take-up of SharePoint, including our own earlier research, typically positions the presence of SharePoint in organizations a bit higher. (In our own study it was 65% and 23% more planning on it.)  What I believe the results of this poll may indicate is that SharePoint  is still predominately  used as an ad hoc approach to file sharing and simple collaboration, and thus for some, is not positioned as part of an official ECM strategy.  Positioning Sharepoint as part of a corporate ECM strategy requires significant further investment in time, money and effort – involving integration with complementary functionality including process management (e.g. BPM and workflow). This was a topic discussed in more detail on our last webinar.

Given that the webinar included advice on extending ECM into the Cloud, we asked the audience members if their organization had deployed any applications in the Cloud. Not surprisingly, a small majority, 56%, indicated no. Past market research I have conducted on this point has yielded similar findings.

Despite the success of SaaS-based applications, such as, for example, many organizations have yet to fully embrace the Cloud. I believe this will likely change in the next year, based on my unofficial tracking of market activity (e.g. related webinars, trade-show presentations, traditional press coverage and Twitter activity.)  In fact this observation prompted me to tweet yesterday “Is it me, or is Cloud Computing the new SharePoint? Is seems to be everywhere.”  The comment sparked a fair amount of Twitter activity and a discussion thread on LinkedIn.

Lastly, we asked about application priorities in the upcoming 18 months. Respondents were given 9 candidate applications to select from. For the most part, responses indicated that a wide variety of business applications are being targeted. The most popularly selected (by40%) application was project collaboration.

Herein lies the value proposition for having an ECM strategy. By establishing an ECM platform (whether a single product, or conglomeration of products orchestrated as a single platform in which best of breed approaches and functions work seamlessly together), organizations can deploy any number of targeted and specific business applications on top of the platform. Even in cases where a turnkey vertical/horizontal application is deployed, it often makes good sense to deploy such an application built on the underlying enterprise platform, to minimize further customization and integration.  This point was further discussed in the last webinar.

So on that note, I’ll remind you that if you missed the first webinar in this series, focused on ECM, SharePoint and  Cloud Computing specifically, you may want to read that follow-up blog . It contains links to the slides and recorded session, as well as many definitions – including – what is ECM.

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