Admittedly Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is much more than paper, but paper is often where ECM starts. Contrary to popular opinion paper is not the enemy. In fact, Paper is an Asset. To be more specific the information on the paper is the asset.
Interestingly paper is often ignored in the ECM realm. Not by me and not by most of the people I have worked with for the past 20 years, but by most of the ECM vendors. They treat paper as something that is loathsome and just needs to be dealt with and dispatched quickly.
In a sense this is exactly how paper should be handled. When dealing with Paper:
Keep it only as long as you need it.
Don’t print that document if you don't need to.
Discard / Dispose of it when it is no longer required.
I submit that paper is getting short shrift and needs to be put back in the spotlight. If for no other reason than paper provides a nascent opportunity for ECM vendors to help their existing customers get more out of their ECM systems and also to seek new markets to sell their wares.
One Billion Dollars
Does a billion dollars get your interest? It should. See SharePoint’s Next Billion Dollars. That’s the conservative dollar amount the “ugly” paper side of ECM will drive in next few years. That’s just for the Document Capture software. Using my time tested 1:3:5 ratio there should be another $3 billion in revenue to Microsoft (or other platform provider) and another $5 billion to system integrators.
This is not chump change. The smart(er) ECM vendors are starting to pay attention, but not all of them. And that’s OK. Because, guess what? New players will step into the void and go after their accounts and they will be willing to help their customers to manage their paper assets more effectively.
Nine Billion Reasons
Maybe a measly one billion is not enough to get some people out of bed. But the ECM ecosystem all up is really a $9 billion dollar market when the software, hardware and services are combined.
I think the smart ECM vendors will realize this and put paper at the forefront of their ECM sales cycle. I also think that there will be an influx of new(ish) vendors seeking to capitalize on this “Digital / Digitized Paper” market in the coming few years. They may not be completely new vendors to the ECM market place. Because contrary to what I’ve written before in Scanning is Simple there are real technical and business challenges to deploying successful ECM systems that are designed to capture and process paper based assets.
What do you think?
Is Paper Dead (pun not intended)?
Are ECM vendors giving paper enough attention?
Will we ever achieve the infamous “paperless office” promise?
Please share your thoughts here in the comments.
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