Image by: Warchi, ©2017 Getty Images

2017 was a turbulent year for many enterprise buyers, as we continued to see major shifts in the technology marketplace. Market consolidation, accelerated migration to the cloud, and a growing shift to microservices architectures have created a new, dynamic environment to navigate. Furthermore, enterprise leaders have come to understand that there is no silver bullet when it comes to their digital transformation strategies. As a result, enterprises will need to focus on bridging the system and process gaps that aren’t going away anytime soon. As we move our attention to the new year, we wanted to take a look back at the top 15 stories that dominated our industry.

15. Content Services Are Evolving: Will Documentum? by Allison Lloyd
This one just eked by as we closed the year out, but OpenText’s acquisition of Dell EMC's Enterprise Content Division (ECD), including Documentum, continues to inspire a lot of attention even a year later. Perhaps adding more fuel to the fire is the evolution of content services, sparking a healthy debate on the future of enterprise content management (ECM) and exactly how we’re really managing that content.

14. Automating Returned Mail with RPA by Kevin Tesch and Dave Zamorski
As we all know, the bottlenecks found within our back-office processes can cost organizations a substantial amount of money, time, and resources. Recently, automation efforts have been boosted by the arrival of robotic process automation (RPA), software that automates repetitive, everyday tasks. Like many back-office processes, the burden of processing retuned mail is an ideal candidate for this emerging technology, but Kevin Tesch and Dave Zamorski warn that this is not a simple plug-and-play deployment.

13. Enterprise Content Management: Watch for These Disruptors by Dave Giordano
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the ECM industry is getting shaken up by some major technology disruptors, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS), open source, big data, and analytics. TSG Founder Dave Giordano predicts how these changing dynamics will affect your investments in the new year.

12. Gartner Pushes Content Services in 2017 Magic Quadrant, Changing ECM Forever by Marko Sillanpaa
Speaking of disruption, Gartner scrapped their long-standing ECM Magic Quadrant, only to replace it with their new, realigned Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms. No matter where you stand on this issue, it looks like the content services train is here to stay, opening a new window for some interesting challengers and visionary companies to make their mark.

11. An Introduction to Taxonomy and Classification for SharePoint by Charmaine Brooks
Admittedly, this list is filled with articles reporting on the big technology shifts affecting us all, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t struggling with the basics as well. As we collect more data in this digital age, it’s becoming harder and harder to find the information we need. Charmaine Brooks breaks down the importance of vocabulary control in our information storage and retrieval processes.

10. Digital Maturity Means Integrating These Two Things by Daniel Schmidt
In our pursuit of digital transformation, we often overlook a really critical element—our disjointed, manual back-office processes. We continue to solely focus on systems of engagement, making it pretty hard to deliver on our digital promises. Kofax Senior Product Marketing Manager Daniel Schmidt advises organizations to assess their digital maturity across both front-office innovations and back-office systems and processes.

9. 3 Industries Prime for Workflow Automation and Digitalization by Wasim A. Khan
According to some reports, 88% of customers expect the ability to complete business digitally. Unfortunately, many organizations have paper-laden, manual processes and struggle to make the transition to digital, automated workflows. No matter your industry, now’s the time to make this move. In this post, we highlight the three industries that could benefit most through digitalization.

8. 5 Ways to Get Ready for GDPR Compliance by Katie Stevens
Whether or not you have customers in the European Union, the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will fundamentally change how we manage their personal data and the privacy rights of consumers. Those companies that position themselves as responsible custodians of customer and employee data will gain a strategic advantage over their competitors.

7. Content Technology Update: Iron Mountain, Xerox, Kofax, and OpenText on the Move by Holly Muscolino and Terry Frazier
Market disruption continued unabated this year, and this latest update reported on Xerox’s new, cloud-based DocuShare platform, targeted at the small- and medium-sized business (SMB) market, Hyland’s acquisition of the Perceptive Software business, and OpenText’s replatformed customer communications management (CCM) solution in their OpenText 16 Enhancement Pack 2. They followed this up with their Enhancement Pack 3 in November, which unveiled their new, business-friendly tool Exstream Content Author.

6. Predicting the Future of Documentum and EMC's ECD by Marko Sillanpaa
OpenText’s acquisition of Dell EMC's ECD makes the list again, falling five spots since the Summer. At the time, the news rocked the ECM industry, as this record-setting $1.62 billion-dollar deal joined two of the biggest players in the market. Today, OpenText reportedly doubled ECD's adjusted margin performance, as practitioners wait to see how OpenText will position this portfolio in their cloud roadmap.

5. GMC Software Commits to the Customer Journey Under New Neopost Division Quadient by Allison Lloyd
It’s always a big deal when one of the leaders in the CCM market decides to rebrand under a new company name, and this story proved no different. In September, GMC Software announced its integration into a new division of parent company Neopost, operating under the name of Quadient. Combining the capabilities from three discrete companies, including GMC Software, Satori Software, and Human Inference, Quadient looks to make its mark on the converging worlds of CCM and customer experience (CX).

4. The Comeback of Direct Mail by Gilles Biscos
In the midst of all this talk about digital transformation and digital adoption, we announced to great fanfare that direct mail wasn’t dead—not even close. According to the Winterberry Group, US direct mail spending increased by 3.1% annually from 2013 to 2015. While this channel may never see pre-recession levels, it remains an important tool for businesses to reach their customers.

3. GMC Software and OpenText Top Gartner's Magic Quadrant for CCM, and New Leaders Emerge by Allison Lloyd
The ECM marketplace was not the only industry segment in 2017 to witness sweeping changes. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Customer Communications Management Software was dominated by movement to the cloud, easy, business-friendly interfaces, and the introduction of a connective layer for core enterprise software suites to embed CCM activities. With rumors swirling that Gartner will retire their CCM Magic Quadrant next year, we will continue to track how this software category plans to find its footing amidst the fragmented customer experience landscape.

2. ECM or Content Services? What Is the Big Deal? by Marko Sillanpaa
Prolific ECM technologist and blogger Marko Sillanpaa marks his third appearance on this list alone with one of the most explosive stories of the year. In January, Gartner proclaimed ECM was dead—and announced the birth of content services. Meanwhile, practitioners everywhere gnashed their teeth at this presumption. Upon clarification, Gartner further explained that this realignment was to reflect the changing dynamics within the ECM technology space and how enterprise executives were actually using the technology. No matter what you call it, it’s clear that information leaders must increasingly focus on how we’re using content to further our business goals.

1. The Top Communication Trends for 2018 by Scott Draeger
Coming in on top is our look at the biggest trends in customer communications. With 2018 just around the corner, are we ready to embrace the CX initiatives headed our way? Artificial intelligence (AI), digital customer maps, and enhanced data management are ushering in a whole new era of business. Your plans today could determine your sustainability in the future.

As you can see, it has been quite the year. I’d like to take this chance to thank all of our contributors who help shape our thoughtful and focused discussions here at DOCUMENT Strategy. For those enterprise leaders who follow our publication regularly, I’d like to leave you with a last thought: In these chaotic times, it’s easy to be distracted by the noise, but I urge you to concentrate on the real business solutions at hand. Take your easy wins where you can, and build a pathway to innovation for the future.

Allison Lloyd serves as the Editor of DOCUMENT Strategy Media. She delivers thought leadership on strategic and plan-based solutions for managing the entire document, communication, and information process. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonYLloyd.
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