By Stéphane Donzé
How we work has changed dramatically over the past decade and a half. We’ve gone from using desktop PCs to holding devices that are hundreds of times faster than the world’s first supercomputers in the palms of our hands. We’re more connected to the digital world than ever before. Obviously, that has had a huge impact on how companies work and the tools that they use.
One place where these advances have made a major impact is in the area of enterprise content management (ECM). In the past, these systems only made sense for large companies due to the sheer amount of resources that were needed to deploy them. However, as we enter the era of the public cloud, things are changing. Now, a new generation of tools has emerged. Known as content services platforms (CSPs), these systems are easy to implement and even easier to use. Most importantly, CSPs are finally giving small businesses the ability to leverage the same software as their larger competitors.
Most traditional enterprise content management systems weren’t made for SMBs
Many traditional ECM solutions have struggled to reach small and medium-sized businesses for a number of reasons.
The first issue is cost. While licenses are one part of it, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Often, the implementation expenses are far greater than the licensing costs. Companies implementing some of the major on-premise systems can end up spending $8 in services for every $1 they spend on licenses. Furthermore, many traditional ECM systems are housed either partially or fully on-premise. That means that in addition to the licensing and implementation costs, the company needs to purchase the physical infrastructure and find space within their office to house it. On top of that, companies implementing an on-premise ECM will likely have to expand their IT team to manage and secure their new system.
With that in mind, businesses should do their due diligence before committing to a traditional, on-premise ECM system. The costs are often much higher than they first appear and, as a result, the significant initial investment is often too pricey for many smaller organizations.
Another set of issues with traditional on-premise ECM systems is their lack of scalability and less-than-ideal user experience. Due to the limitations of the infrastructure, on-premise systems need to be physically scaled up alongside your business. That means more space, more servers, and more implementation costs.
Last but not least, the user experience of some of these traditional systems is infamously bad. In 2019, employees expect the tools that they use at work to be as intuitive as the ones that they use at home. If they’re not, they’ll often find unsecured workarounds. The resulting compliance and security issues almost defeat the purpose of having an ECM system in the first place.
Cloud-based content service platforms can be the answer
One of the major advances that has changed how we do business is the cloud. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the next generation of ECM systems, known as content services platforms, have also moved to the cloud. Nowadays, these easy-to-adopt platforms are becoming increasingly popular and secure due to some sizeable improvements in cloud technology. Most importantly, they bring a lot of interesting benefits to the table for SMBs.
One major advantage of cloud-based CSPs is their significantly smaller infrastructure requirements. Businesses are not going to need to find a place in their office to set up servers or need to have a big internal team to get it online. As a result, CSPs are far more affordable to implement than their on-premise cousins all while providing the same or better level of security and features. Not only does this reduce the initial investment for small businesses, but it also allows them to better tailor the platform to their needs.
Another plus is that cloud-based content services platforms also take a lot of the responsibility and work off the plate of their customers. For example, things like network security and software updates are all handled by the platform provider. That means that a small business can have the latest security without having to hire specialists.
Being based in the cloud gives this type of content service platform a number of other strengths as well. Due to their cloud-based nature, they can be easily scaled alongside a growing business without the need for additional infrastructure. In many cases, it’s just as simple as purchasing more licenses. Furthermore, content services platforms are, by nature, designed to act as central hubs that integrate with third-party tools right off the shelf. That gives small businesses the flexibility to continue using their existing tools instead of being forced to rebuild their processes in a new platform.
When small businesses are able to afford enterprise tools, they’re pretty happy about it. “Our content services platform is giving the small business I work for the ability to develop tools and automated processes historically only available to businesses much larger than ours. We recently increased our monthly investment in AODocs nearly 10 fold because we’re convinced that it’s going to pay serious dividends,” said Lucas Wiscons, the operations manager at a small law firm.
Small businesses shouldn’t be shut out from tools that can help them grow. Luckily, cloud-based content services platforms are making the same systems and features that were once out of reach accessible. These platforms are affordable, scalable, and easy-to-use. With cloud-based CSPs, smaller organizations can take advantage of enterprise-grade technology for a small business-friendly price.
Stéphane Donzé is the founder and CEO of AODocs, a software company he created from the idea that the enterprise’s need for compliance and efficient processes is not contradictory with good user experience. Prior to founding AODocs, he was VP of Engineering at Exalead, a leading enterprise search company. After Exalead was acquired by Dassault Systèmes in 2010, he relocated to California from Paris as VP of Product Strategy. Stéphane has a master’s degree in software engineering from Ecole Polytechnique in France (X96). With 18 years of experience in enterprise software, he is passionate about user experience across an organization.