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Five 2021 Emerging Trends in Records Management and ECM

Bill Dermody
04/22/2021
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We get it; document management software isn’t sexy. Hyping the latest innovations in records management technology is like getting excited about the Dewey Decimal system.

The fact is that document management software is an important tool, but many organizations treat it like a place to dump all their document data that isn’t needed immediately. Unfortunately, once you do need to find an essential piece of information or want to turn your old data into a useful, actionable report, many electronic document management systems fail to deliver because they’ve been neglected or ignored.


We want more companies to get excited about their document management system. A modern document management tool (also called Enterprise Content Management system or ECM) can automate your business, organize your data, uncover new insights and save your organization a lot of money. And, despite the boring reputation, your document management system can deliver some incredible innovations, including artificial intelligence and robotic automation.

In fact, there are many examples of industries using ECM to improve their business activities and transactions. They’re leveraging many of the following ECM benefits and document management trends.

1. Smarter Automation
2. Artificial Intelligence
3. Cloud Computing
4. Automated Indexing
5. Cross-Functional Team Collaboration

1. Smarter Automation 

One of the hottest new buzzwords in document management is robotic process automation. Often shortened to RPA, this is the use of specialized computer programs known as software robots which automate and standardize repeatable business processes.  

This sounds futuristic, but all it means is that the application tracks and learns how to perform tasks by watching how humans work. The system tracks the keystrokes a person makes and the robots mimic human activities. The system intelligently learns through machine learning and can gradually take over the repetitive and boring tasks humans don’t need to do.

2. AI in ECM is A-OK

Many large corporations employ data scientists, data miners and business intelligence architects to design more intelligent ways to mine data for information. Thanks to new artificial intelligence (AI) tools being built into document management systems, even a small business can get the same kind of business intelligence support (without having to pay the salaries of highly educated professionals).

Natural language and intention-based queries can unleash the dark and otherwise inaccessible information within your digital records system. Now you can improve your decision-making capabilities and optimize all your business processes by applying techniques such as Machine learning (ML), Predictive Analysis (PA) and Data Visualization.

3. Go Live on a Cloud

One of the challenges of many document management systems is that, if left unchecked, the volumes of data stored in them can become expensive and unmanageable. Fortunately, most vendors today offer a low-cost cloud infrastructure, and many organizations are realizing the benefits of moving to the cloud. 

When you combine cloud computing with a browser-based interface, you get document management software that consistently offers not only tremendous cost advantages, but virtually unlimited processing power to crunch numbers and turn that data into useful business intelligence. Some providers offer both cloud storage and in-house systems, which may be helpful for organizations that require a hybrid solution due to compliance and confidentiality requirements. It’s important to build a strategic roadmap early on to ensure you get the results you need and expect.

4. Indexing it All in Record Time

When you capture documents and bring them into your document management solution, the database must be able to ingest and digest all kinds of different document types into a central repository — scanned paper documents, emails and electronic files. To access and retrieve this content, it must be indexed.

In the old world, data entry teams had to manually index information by keying in data for different fields when uploading a document. Modern automatic indexing is much more user friendly and makes it easy to archive and store documents as they’re captured. Intelligent indexing technology uses machine learning to identify the most relevant index entries based on a user’s previous actions. Such a system learns as it goes along and becomes increasingly accurate with each new form of record that’s added, constantly improving system performance.

5. Collaborate Across Your Organization

Cross-functional team collaboration has been a battle cry in many organizations, but few are able to fully benefit from the concept. Oftentimes this is due to teams working in silos with each using disparate tools and technologies that don’t “talk” with each other. A truly collaborative approach to running a business often requires an organizational shift, not only in its use of technology, but in the minds of individuals.

Shifting to a new system can enable teams to share documents, track projects, improve transparency and enhance productivity. It requires not only adopting technology but ensuring that everyone is on board and comfortable using it. A document management system can help optimize team collaboration, but it needs to be embraced as an organization-wide initiative — it can’t just be leadership’s idea.

Document Management is Getting Exciting

Document management systems are clearly not dull. In fact, because they can capture data faster, learn how to automate tasks and even turn your document stores into usable information, they make your work more enjoyable and make life easier and — dare I say it — more exciting. And, if you can adopt a cloud solution or use AI to make your document stores more useful, it can make you more cost effective, efficient and profitable.

The fact is that Document Management and Enterprise Content Management is increasingly vital for organizations of all sizes. Investment is growing exponentially, with the ECM market expected to reach more than $105 billion USD by 2026. Additionally, Gartner released its Magic Quadrant report on the state of the content services platforms. In it they determined that Microsoft and IBM are leaders once again among document management platforms.

If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of data you need to manage and keep track of and aren’t investing in document management or ECM, you’re missing out. To learn more about the functionality of today’s ECM tools, check out our easy infographic below. Then, find out more about how these technologies can help your business. Reach out to our experienced ECM team at the Gordon Flesch Company today.

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