Industry Predictions for 2012

By Dan Elam posted 01-05-2012 11:31


Each year I have done industry projections either by myself or with AIIM’s former Emerging Technologies (EmTAG) group.  For the most part the projections involve looking at trends and trying to figure out evolution.  But this year, the dynamics are more volatile than ever before when it comes to ECM and related technologies.  If none of these predictions comes true, you can still take it to the bank that 2012 is going to be one of the most transformative years in the history of our industry.

Let’s get to it.

Kodak Files for Bankruptcy.  It seems unfathomable that Kodak could be in this position, but the company has lost about 90% of its value in the last year and is in danger of both running out of cash and being delisted from the NY Stock Exchange before they make their transition to a digital imaging and printing company.  Look for earnings information to be released at the end of January and expect that a lot more people got iPhones with digital cameras under their Christmas tree than stand-alone Kodak cameras.  Kodak is still hoping to sell their patent portfolio to raise cash, but we may be seeing the last days of one of the great companies in this industry.

Start-up Valuations Return to Normal.  Seriously, does anyone think Dropbox is worth $5B?  They are a company on a roll, but let’s put it in perspective.  Lenovo is worth just under $7B.  OpenText is $3B.  Pega is $1B.  Is Dropbox worth more than those companies?  No. had a valuation of about $500M.  Again, great company, but not in the same league as some of the bigger companies (of which nearly everyone is bigger).  Cloud computing is white hot, but it is inherently an environment that drives costs down to commodity levels and ECM is a crowded market.  The bubble drops in 2012.

Cloud “Incident” Makes People Wary.  Cloud is the future.  Period.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t have some hiccups along the way.  In 2012, at least one high profile cloud vendor will have an incident in the form of an outage or security breach that raises the national debate.  Whatever it will be have to be pretty significant since RIM was partially down for large parts of the world last year, Amazon had a multi-day failure that took down customer’s websites, and Dropbox had a security breach that allowed people to logon without passwords.  All of those events got press coverage, but the move to cloud meant that most overlooked it.  As people realize how much data is in the cloud (especially quasi-public clouds like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) the sensitivities will increase.

SharePoint Continues to Roll.  I nearly fell out of my chair when I read a blog from a leading industry vendor guru who stated that SharePoint implementations would start to be ripped out in favor of traditional ECM platforms.  That might be the wish, but it won’t be reality.  SharePoint is a bright spot for Microsoft and the ecosystem and implementations are just beginning to hit their stride.  SharePoint will remain white hot in 2012.  Will there be problems?  Sure!  SharePoints problems are well documented but that isn’t stopping implementations or sucking revenue from the rest of the ECM industry.

Multi-repository Replaces “Enterprise”.  Ok.  We can’t do it.  The “enterprise” part of ECM.  Projects take took long and are too expensive.  So a single ECM platform for all unstructured content isn’t going to happen.  But records management is still important, so the trend will be for companies to move to single records management modules that support multiple vendor platforms.  Companies like RSD and Archive Solutions (OmniRIM) will have some initial play, but companies like Autonomy and Oracle with inherent support for multiple repositories will also do well.

We Start Talking About “New Records Management”.  The traditional concept of “records management” may be coming to an end.  The Create-Manage-Dispose mantra assumes that content is both valuable enough to keep and to delete.  With social media and public clouds, that might not even be possible any more.  For example, something published on Twitter or Facebook might be a record and therefore subject to deletion, but that doesn’t mean that it is deleted.  All tweets are now stored by the Library of Congress regardless of whether you deleted them or not.  And Facebook maintains a ton of information despite user-deletion.  Gmail and Facebook both “read” your emails in order to target advertising to you.  Apple’s iCloud knows what videos you watch and can store your documents and email.  The rules are incomplete and not evolving nearly fast enough to keep up with the technology.  In 2012, you will see more organizations rethink the traditional paradigm.  Already in 2011 we saw one large company basically ban email as their way to reduce the amount of records.  Privacy will become a new driver nearly as important as the regulatory environment that has driven a lot of the last few years.

Mobile Accelerates.  Last year marked the tipping point where more data was transferred across the internet to an “app” than to a web browser.  iPads and Android phones are just examples of apps that are customized to present and work with content.  The internet is fast becoming a sewer pipe, err, power line for content instead of being a set of protocols for displaying web pages.  Thin clients are out and fat-clients are in!  Reverse déjà vu! 

So what trends do you see in 2012?  Be sure to add your thoughts below!


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