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Cloud Computing for ECM
As a provider of a cloud technology since 1999, we whole heartedly embrace the use of cloud, and are one of the first software companies in the world to engineer software specifically for a cloud environment rather than adapting a desktop software application to run in the cloud. We are seeing that companies are really beginning to understand the value of investing in the cloud rather than software. Companies see significant savings in terms of implementation and support, because the cloud provider is responsible for all of the hardware and maintains availability and access as part of the service, minimizing the impact on company IT resources.
For example, R.C. Bigelow, Inc., the #1 specialty tea provider in the US relies on a cloud application to manage virtually all company records. For decades, the company relied on automation in their factories, but most of the accounting and business operations were based on manual paper processes. Finding information and preparing for annual audits was inefficient and frustrating. The company’s investment in ECM has saved them $25,000 annually in labor costs alone and has demonstrated an 813 percent return on investment. What’s more, they were able to implement their cloud/ECM solution with minimal setup expense and training time.
"We are seeing that companies are really beginning to understand the value of investing in the cloud rather than software"
The Bailiwick of Big Data Analytics Companies
Though there is some overlap, most ECM companies are not big data analytics companies and vice versa. Where ECM and big data do overlap is in the area of collection and management of the information, while the analysis and identification of key patterns in that data remains the bailiwick of big data analytics companies. ECM is critical in that it helps collect information in a wide variety of formats into a single repository for secure management and intelligent retention.
Artificial Intelligence to Roll-into the ECM Industry
We’re starting to see artificial intelligence (AI) get rolled into practical application within the ECM industry. A good example is our PaperVision®Forms Magic technology, which is one of the first practical applications and uses of artificial intelligence for ECM. Essentially, this technology removes the manual labor involved in actually collecting and sorting data. As information comes in, the AI engine identifies the document type, extracts critical business information to eliminate manual data entry, and then pushes it to the appropriate workflow process within that organization. So, in an accounts payable example, we can collect the invoice and extract the data, so that an invoice can be processed and approved efficiently.
A good example of this in practice is MSI Mold Builders, a state-of-the-art injection mold producer. Using a suite of our products, including Forms Magic, Mold Builders has increased its efficiency and gained control of accounts payable. Processing their invoices now takes only 15 minutes instead of an hour, saving more than 10,000 hours of productivity annually. As a result, they are now saving more than $40 per invoice processed for a total cost savings of $676,000 per year.
When we view the evolving ECM landscape, we believe that it really comes back to artificial intelligence. We see more and more ECM companies trying to incorporate AI to make ECM more efficient and provide bigger benefits for customers. It is important to look for ECM applications that have the right type of artificial intelligence built into the application.
If ECM is designed to manage data, then the ability to automate the categorization of data and recognize patterns becomes really interesting. The business implications are significant as well. Right now all of the information sorting and pattern identification is done by a human being. If we want important information extracted, we have to pay someone to sit there and type it into an accounting or an inventory application. It’s easy to see how this technology can reduce costs by considering accounts payable. Right now, more than 80 percent of companies are trying to streamline their accounts payable process to reduce costs and about 70 percent of invoice handling costs are related to document handling and data entry. AI-enabled ECM can really make a difference for this ubiquitous business function.
Since emerging in the nineties, the role of the CIO has really evolved. Today’s CIOs understand that their core responsibility to the business goes beyond purchase and maintenance of technology to also encompass a critical need to add value and reduce costs where possible.
We recommend that CIOs become experts in change management. As they come to better understand how to help people respond positively to changing technologies, they can coach line-of-business managers and directors to ensure good results from new technology implementations. Figure out how to appropriately get people involved in the change, how to incentivize and reward adoption leaders, and how to streamline training and transition to add real value for the organization.
As we mentioned above, we believe the role of the CIO today, needs to focus on how to add value to the organization. It is important to help a company remain agile and to keep technology choices aligned with company goals. This critical position needs to be more than just buying and implementing technology. The key is to add value by identifying how technology can work to improve processes, to increase productivity and to generate company growth.
Technology as a whole typically reduces overall costs
Though some companies are still purchasing software applications, implementing servers, and buying hardware, many are switching to cloud services. As cloud applications take off, these costs are really being mitigated. Cloud applications are a much better way for organizations to manage costs overall.
Nucleus Research reported in May that the ROI of cloud applications has increased 25 percent since 2012. The value has grown to 2.1 times more ROI for cloud services, up from 1.7 times four years ago.