Posted by David Jones ● 11/6/20 5:58 AM
ECM Integrations: The Art of Making Anything Possible
A quiet revolution has been happening in the software industry over the past few years. When I graduated in the mid 1990s the trend was to deliver software solutions that provided every possible feature needed in that space - often including the kitchen sink to coin a phrase. For document management systems of the time, that meant that they needed to include scanning, storage and retrieval capabilities.
At the time that was fine. Systems tended not to talk to each other, digital collaboration and transformation were terms that had not yet been invented and the cloud was not even born. But fast forward 15 years or so and things started to change.
The Birth of Open Systems
Over time the use of technology grew within organizations, and as it did, the associated systems got increasingly complex - and bloated. It got to a point where vendors were spending more time on maintaining existing code than creating new code, and new features. Something had to give.
At this point, software engineers started exploring the idea of connecting enterprise content management (ECM) systems together. (ECM was the successor to document management by the way). Some had tried this in the past - CMIS was a standard way of sharing information between ECM systems but never really took off - largely because it just shared data, and didn’t allow for actions to be taken in other systems. Something more powerful was needed - and it came in the shape of the REST-API.
We won’t go into detail of what a REST-API actually is in this blog - there are several online resources that can help with that - but will look at what it offers to ECM. Put simply, for information management a REST-API allows different systems to talk to each, to share data, and to perform actions in their respective systems. This simple concept opened ECM systems up to a world of possibility.
Core ECM Integrations
Integrations are now a fundamental component of a modern enterprise content management (ECM) system. Below we list 6 classic examples of core ECM integrations.
While most legacy ECM solutions included capture functionality in the base product, many modern solutions do not. Integrating to existing capture providers allows such vendors to deliver capture capabilities much faster than developing internally, and also offers end users the ability to select their own best of breed capture provider.
Many people confuse records management (RM) with ECM - but the two have very different requirements. While basic RM capabilities are offered by most ECM tools, in many regulated environments much more extensive RM tools are needed. Integration makes this possible.
Reporting has been a core feature of information management systems since day one, but where reports provide tactical insight, analytics allows organizations to deliver strategic value. Integration to dedicated and world-class analytic tools directly from an ECM tool brings the ability for business leaders to integrate governance, compliance and content metrics into their strategic business visibility.
One of the most talked about integrations in recent times is that to AI engines such as Google Vision or Amazon Textract. These technology powerhouse organizations provide cutting edge AI capabilities that can integrate directly into your ECM system - you’d be crazy not to be exploring this.
Slightly more mundane than AI, but just as useful is the common integration between ECM and digital signature solutions such as Docusign and AdobeSign. These integrations remove the need for wet signatures, save reams of wasted paper, and streamline processes across the planet.
Many organizations now use tools such as Google Chat or Slack to perform internal collaboration. Integrating your ECM solution into these tools allows people to work directly on content within the tools they spend most of their day in. This not only saves time, but also provides quick and easy ways to share content without creating multiple versions - a challenge that email attachments did not help with.
The Benefits of Integration
The many types of out of the box integrations available for ECM solutions offer a variety of benefits dependent on the specific systems being connected. However, all of these integrations provide three core benefits:
- Simplicity - being able to access content or related services in a user-friendly manner is critical in modern business.
- Speed - making processes faster, makes them more efficient, and ultimately saves the business money.
- Context - having access to the right content when you need it, without having to go to another system is a core way to drive efficiency, reduce errors, and improve employee engagement.
Integrations are so important to a modern information management practice that Gartner completely killed the name ECM a couple of years ago to create a new category, the Content Services Platform (CSP). A CSP has everything that an ECM system has to offer, but in a package designed from day one to be integrated to other services. This open-API approach is new for some, but has been baked into tools such as AODocs from their inception.
Today AODocs has multiple out of the box integrations that offer significant added value to end users; from digital signatures, to cloud storage, to document scanning. As Gartner rightly recognized, no one vendor can provide every possible feature or function that an organization needs. The key is to offer a simple way to create a best of breed ecosystem of connected systems, or services in Gartner’s terminology, to deliver against the customer’s requirements. And that is firmly achievable with AODocs.
Integrate with AODocs
AODocs is an open platform that can integrate with thousands of applications in any vertical or departmental solution area. Discover just some of the pre-built integrations on offer here: