Image by: ra2studio, ©2018 Getty Images

In this digital age, the “document” has seemingly gone out of style. So, where does that leave the document management industry? Like so many, we’re in a state of transformation, but the discussions we have about disruptive technology too often focus on the importance of so-called labels rather than the business outcomes we’re trying to achieve. Whether you’re talking about documents, content, or applications, we should ask ourselves if we’re simply applying digital technologies to traditional business processes or if we’re truly changing the concept of how we serve our customers.

Forrester Senior Analyst Jacob Morgan says that “firms must digitize the heart of their business, driving agility and flexibility to the core.” This is real digital transformation, where “new digital business capabilities help to deliver customer outcomes in entirely new ways,” adds Forrester Vice President Nigel Fenwick. Technologies, like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and the cloud, are paving the way for organizations to enable these changes faster and more effectively than ever before. At our annual event in Boston, Technology Futurist Ian Kahn predicted that these combined technologies alone will save companies $50 billion by 2021.

According to Forrester, there are four key technology categories driving digital transformation forward:
  • Systems of Engagement (chat bots, robotic process automation, authorization management, customer recognition)
  • Systems of Insight (deep learning, natural language processing, customer journey analytics, Internet of things analytics)
  • Systems of Automation (Internet of things platforms, edge computing, industrial Internet)
  • Supporting Technologies (security analytics and workflow management, incident response, micro-services, platform as a service, containers and container management, hybrid wireless)
Yet, the nexus of old and new is creating an interesting dynamic within the enterprise. Automation is great, but if we can’t identify what makes content important and how it fits into the business process, the value of these technologies will rapidly disappear. Perhaps, this is why we see organizations investing in opposite parts of the spectrum. According to AIIM Chief Evangelist John Mancini, companies are "doubling down" on existing content investments (such as cloud content management, records management, and business process management) while simultaneously investing in emerging priorities (like automated data recognition, AI/content analytics, and metadata and taxonomy management).

We’ve come a long way from the days where we only looked to systems to “store” our content (some more than others), but the document management industry is fighting to remain relevant in this continually disruptive environment, where your market competitiveness is only as good as the next innovation.

So, where does our content fit in with the necessary digital building blocks?

“More and more, content will be where business is conducted, which is increasingly in lead applications” says Fred Saas, Senior Director of Product Marketing of ECM at OpenText. It is where users actually work that automation technologies can be applied to deliver new intelligence in how we conduct business.

In our Summer 2018 issue, it seems fitting that we're featuring our annual list of HOT Companies in Customer Experience. Many of these profiled companies will help to accelerate your digital transformation journeys. However, it’s important to visualize what you’re transforming into. If you’re not creating totally new ways of thinking, then we’re just slapping the term “transformation” on what we’ve always done—and what good is that?

Enjoy the issue!

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.