ECM in the cloud
Cloud computing's popularity has now reached a stage where many business leaders are deciding when and how to invest, rather than questioning whether or not it is a good strategy.
Organisations looking to reduce their IT costs and improve services are increasingly exploring the potential of cloud technologies in an effort to make processes more efficient and boost productivity.
One area in which cloud solutions are gaining traction is enterprise content management (ECM) functions. Moving content and ECM systems into the cloud has a number of benefits, many of which can streamline existing methods and allow for the effective re-allocation of resources.
Cloud computing benefits
Investing in a cloud service has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it is important for real estate organisations to explore the possibilities and weigh them against their current needs before deciding on the right property IT solutions.
Here are just some of the benefits of investing in cloud ECM services:
Cost: This is often the primary reason for moving to the cloud. Rather than paying a large upfront sum for big software packages, the cloud offers a range of flexible cost options that suit a variety of business models. However, remember that the total cost of ownership may offset these initial savings over time.
Support: Many businesses may not have the skills base required in their organisation to run sophisticated on-site business software. Outsourcing cloud services means expert providers can manage content on a company's behalf.
Faster deployment: Cloud solutions can be deployed quickly and managed externally. In comparison, an on-premise platform can take weeks or months to integrate and will require extensive workforce training for maximum gains.
Better access: Large organisations may have multiple sites in a number of states or overseas. Cloud ECM facilitates easy access to an organisation's content across these offices and via remote working and mobile devices.
Main drivers of cloud ECM
So which of these are the primary drivers of organisations moving their ECM operations to cloud?
A recent white paper by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) revealed that the cost of initial implementation was the most attractive cloud feature.
AIIM questioned organisations on their reasons for investing in the cloud - three answers being the maximum permitted - and just below 40 per cent listed cost reduction.
This was followed by better availability across multi-site organisations (one-quarter) and improved mobile access and collaboration with those outside the firewall (approximately 15 per cent).
Between 10 and 15 per cent of respondents believed easier deployments, preferable cost structures and additional features were their reasons for investing.
"The cloud can be a wonderful place, full of best-in-class business and applications that are quick to adopt and simple to use," AIIM stated.
"They provide powerful functionality, using a number of pricing models that can be attractive to businesses of all types."
The future of cloud
Many of the organisations in the AIIM whitepaper believe the future is bright for ECM cloud computing. More than three-quarters of those surveyed feel cloud will be the de-facto deployment method for ECM functions within the next eight years.
Of these, one in 10 were confident this would be the case by the end of next year, while a further 17 per cent suggested it will take only three years for cloud ECM to be the norm.
"There are a number of factors that are important in the decision to use cloud technology or not, but a key recommendation for all organisations, regardless of their ECM maturity … is to develop a strategy early on that decisions can be based on," AIIM concluded.
Property organisations considering moving their business processes to the cloud should contact the real estate IT experts at Loci Solutions for more information.