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By next year at this time, 60 percent of users will be accessing content applications via mobile devices.

That call was made by Gartner analyst Mark Gilbert at the recent Empower 2014 event, put on by Laserfiche. In his session, Gilbert discussed the immediate future of enterprise content management (ECM) systems. He observed that the ECM market just keeps on growing, but these systems are rapidly evolving to cloud-based, mobile-enabled solutions. The emphasis is to enable the capture of documents via mobile phone cameras, which can forward the images to ECM applications.

Insurance companies, he adds, are furnishing agents in the field with mobile technology — smartphones and tablets — to follow up on claims. “So when there’s a hurricane or something, they take pictures, and round-trip the data into the application.”

Gilbert had the following recommendations to prepare for the next generation of ECM:

Focus on goals: “You have got to have a roadmap for your content management strategy,” he says. “And I mean that in the most literal sense. I often ask people what they want to achieve from content management. Then there will be silence for 30 seconds.” Having a vision and specific goals will assure the success of the effort.

Focus on what users are seeing: More than ever before, the user interface and display is critical to the success of an ECM effort, Gilbert adds. “You can't have an interface that looks like it was designed in 1998.” 

Focus on processes: Processes are more essential than the information that is being managed, Gilbert says. And this is the path to new capabilities. “Processes enabled by ECM workflow tools will incorporate more mobility, social and cloud,” he says.

Focus on teamwork: A good rule of thumb is that the ECM implementation team “should be half IT and half business,” says Gilbert. “And if it's not, that’s usually a sign of a problem.”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

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