The following is a guest article from Stéphane Donzé, CEO of AODocs.
The cloud enterprise content management (ECM) market is rapidly maturing, forecasted to grow at a 28.6% CAGR to $34.8 billion by 2022. Cloud ECM’s impressive headline growth has been catalyzed by a combination of factors.
In particular, businesses want faster, more agile and more scalable answers to enterprise content needs, and the cloud's cost-sensitive options have garnered fans from the C-suite to the intern pool.
One important catalyst behind cloud ECM's adoption is advances in user experience.
The simple truth is that design and user experience considerations can unlock huge collaborative synergies within an organization. Why can't work projects be searched as effortlessly as Facebook friends? Why can't invoices be called up as quickly as an Uber?
Cloud ECM's humble origins in the mid-1990s are a stark reminder of what a breakthrough the enterprise is seeing in terms of usability and design — a direct result of the industry's one historical constant, which has been the fierce pace of innovation.
Early entrants like PCDOCS ignited the nascent field, but competitors emerged almost as fast: PCDOCS was acquired by Hummingbird, which was later acquired by OpenText.
At the time, ECM vendors sold to C-suite audiences who tended to be more interested in ROI than user feedback, and implementation was often a one-way street. That's not to say ECM's business value is not still enormously important, but what has changed is that user feedback is finally being considered.
Google played a major role in such enterprise "consumerization" through Gmail, Google Drive and G Suite. In particular, Gmail's launch in 2004 was Google's moment to flex some muscle by offering one gigabyte of storage, a veritable earthquake in the consumer email market.
Another inflection point for enterprise technology (and by extension ECM) was the invention of the smartphone, which introduced consumers to a frictionless, intuitive style of work. Out of this revelation — that enterprise applications and frustration needn't be synonymous — conflicts arose between employees and IT departments.
The opening "revolt" was the BYOD trend, and its "rebels" were employees who went to great lengths to use their favorite device instead of an employer-imposed brick.
Today, businesses have begun to understand the importance of UX and UI with regard to ECM, and in fact, must consider them primary selection criteria or face similar user revolts. Younger, digitally native employees comprise a plurality of the workforce.
By 2020, millennials are projected to comprise 50%. They above all expect a native experience, after all they were the first generation to have had smartphones and Chromebooks since they were students.
Playing devil's advocate
Another way to appreciate the advances in cloud ECM is to ask what would happen if companies ignored it.
Any business that turns a blind eye to the cloud revolution won't be an attractive destination for younger workers who are often inclined toward user-friendly technology.
Employee retention is also increasingly tethered to IT satisfaction because younger generations are prone to job-hopping, so many companies need to better manage the time it takes to onboard and train workers.
If an enterprise does choose to ignore cloud options and thoughtful UI, those businesses won't have to wait for millennials to flee to see the deleterious effects of poorly conceived ECM. With the proliferation of SaaS applications, it's becoming very easy for users to procure alternative tools elsewhere to do their job.
Quite simply, if a company tries to impose tools that everyone hates, users will just find better tools online, which is often called the "shadow IT" or "ghost IT" market.
Awareness of cloud ECM's potential is growing worldwide, driven by huge leaps forward in UX and UI. The ECM universe is changing because it's what the end users want. New, cloud-based offerings are merely rising to meet that demand.
ECM deployment is not yet an entirely democratic affair within many businesses, but at the very least, most companies know they can no longer ignore end users' reactions to the product.
One day soon, those users — not the IT departments, not the chief executives — will be in the driver's seat. How a product looks and feels is a big deal, and enterprise technology is no longer an exception