As we reflect on a significant year in 2018, which brought about a shift from ECM to CSP, (not just a change in terminology, but a response to the changes in process and technology that were reshaping the industry), we look ahead to 2019 with even more optimism. Many of the biggest themes from the previous year, namely machine learning, artificial intelligence and cloud technology are expected to make a greater impact, especially as tech matures and as organizational models evolve to take advantage of that. Those trends open bigger questions about how best practices for content services will also evolve to keep pace. Here are our top four content service industry predictions for 2019:
1. Robotic process automation (RPA) will be an expected feature within an organization’s suite of content services.
This will be game-changing for many organizations because RPA can incrementally add data transformation functionality to legacy applications or applications that have no economic / compelling reason to change or shift them to the cloud. RPA can also initially address back office costs without time-sucking process upheavals under a lower risk implementation profile. The old promise of enterprise-wide ECM has not materialized for most organizations because of culture, process and cost. However, as RPA solutions gain traction, the need for management visibility of robot service levels, robot operating KPIs, and robot target app performance/security dramatically rises.
2. A proliferation of process-driven apps integrating with content services across the org and multiple LOBs raises the stakes for organizations to understand user behavior in context.
Typical business processes (HR, accounting, application intake, etc) now include participants outside the corporate walls given the global marketplace of 2019. Process-driven use cases that include external third parties are the now the common ‘workflow’ starting point, typically driven by DTx strategy initiatives. The huge success of SaaS-based collaboration offerings (O365, Box, Nintex, etc.) demonstrates the shift from internal organization dependence to broader value-chain processes. We expect to see more focused process-driven apps using a content services core asset versus document-driven apps with individual, separate LOB integrations as this reduces complexity, cost and training. With this expanded process participation, understanding who is accessing what content with contextual understanding is becomes more critical, especially as regulation grows increasingly tight and security concerns are brought to the forefront.
3. Continued ML (sometimes AI) intersections with content services
changing focus from just capture extraction to adding active actions within workflows. Look for AI-driven suggestions for possible rework, reroute, real skills-based routing (beyond statically defined workflow members or routes) within integrated automation/BPMS suites, even within RPA solutions. We see the “embrace and extend theme” as championed by Forrester, not a lift-and-shift to a pure-play implementation. The increasing questions on AI (such as training data bias, ethical use, and crowdsourced data benefits versus competitor advancement) will only increase as AI moves from lab testing to front-end product composition. ML/AI transparency (what is the black box doing?) will be a common product discussion.
4. Cloud and more cloud
A common management question for new CSP-related applications will start with ‘Explain why can’t we use a SaaS or PaaS platform for this app?’ The realization that cloud benefits extend beyond just delivery speed and scaling velocity by offering more secure, technologically advanced, and quicker-to-deploy services and platforms are now common benchmarks for enterprise architects. Of course, the thought of “crown jewel” content residing in the cloud can still cause regulatory compliance issues and legal panic. This may cause a hybrid approach to be the favored implementation for a “better together” option as signaled by Gartner, especially where there is no economic or risk profile rationale to move legacy ECM platforms. As a result, we are seeing an increasing use of containers during on-premises technology refresh. This ushers the need for best practices for CSP management to also include understanding CSP service level baselines, content access performance, and the detection of any content access breaches.
That rounds our list of content service industry predictions for 2019.