Content intelligence, automation, domain-specific cloud services, low-code platforms… Find out what's in store for your digital transformation journey in 2020.
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Imagine a stack of blu-ray discs that can get you to the moon and back 23 times. That’s what 175 zettabytes is, and that’s how much data is predicted to exist by 2025, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
When it comes to enterprise knowledge, 80% is spread across scattered information sources. For enterprises operating in this highly competitive world, the challenge is how to get value out of so much unstructured information
With knowledge management as a top priority, what trends should business leaders look out for in 2020?
Trend #1 – Intelligent content platforms
Intelligence and automation is what sets innovative content platforms apart. Traditionally, content platforms were not much more than very advanced file stores. By means of folder structures, metadata and search functions, users were able to arrange content in an optimal way for business or compliance purposes. This has, however, become more and more a commodity.
The most innovative solutions have been introducing intelligence to extract added insights from managed documents and/or to enable automation. Examples of content processes that are now automated include document categorization, metadata value suggestions, detection of specific content such as privacy information, suggestion of related content, summarizations, automated tone and style suggestions, etc.
Based on natural language processing techniques, this intelligence layer works typically on the content level (inside the document). It uses statistical algorithms to extract insights and patterns from a set of documents and presents them as added value to end users.
The accurate statistical models required for (artificial) intelligence entail large amounts of data, which are typically only available to the biggest cloud platform providers such as Microsoft, AWS and Amazon, which leads us to the next trend.
Trend #2 – Pre-built intelligence on the cloud
It comes as no surprise that these major cloud platforms also offer pre-built intelligence services that can be integrated into your content management systems.
These models are, however, too generic. We therefore also see a trend to complement these cloud services with domain-specific models – e.g. for a specific sector such as finance or life sciences – and organization-specific content, which would require less data, but is tuned towards a specific domain and organization.
Trend #3 – Content automation and personalization
The artificial intelligence features in content platforms and cloud services also offer the basis for automation and personalization. The insights and categorizations which this intelligence brings can automate a lot of human tasks, and thus improve productivity. For example, an incoming claims document can be automatically assigned to the correct insurance case without human intervention and an incoming scanned passport can be automatically assigned to the corresponding customer.
Also regarding personalization, intelligence improves the match between a user’s individual interests – based on behavior – and the available content.
Trend #4 – All eyes on user experience
Too many technology projects, especially in content management, have failed in the past because systems were too complex, non-intuitive and users were not involved in the design. Development and project management approaches that solve these issues and enable user focus will remain core in the future. Specific attention will be on role-specific interfaces, device-agnosticism and user adoption programs.
Trend #5 - Role-specific and personalized user interfaces
Technological progress in both intelligence and front-end frameworks has made it possible to tune user interfaces at an affordable price. So we see more and more focus on providing the user with the right content, knowledge and insight at the right time. This implies more involvement of specialized usability experts during analysis and design phases.
Trend #6 – Device agnosticism
Users no longer tolerate that applications are only available for desktop. An integrated and complete experience for desktop and mobile is essential. Also, this should not require extra effort during development, as most platforms automatically deliver user interfaces for both scenarios.
Trend #7 – More effective user adoption programs
Given the move to cloud-based applications, there’s a definite trend regarding more elaborate user adoption programs. On one hand, customers are able to spend more of their budget on customized user interfaces and on soft skills, with the decrease in the overall cost for cloud development. On the other hand, since cloud vendors, like Microsoft, realized that user adoption is key for long-term success, they’ve been creating adoption initiatives with the added benefit of being able to keep track, in real-time, with actual usage.
Trend #8 - Low-code platforms
From a back-end perspective, the cloud brings a lot of commoditization and standardization. The traditional content management features are fairly identical among different content services platforms: metadata management, search, version management, BPM integration, etc. Intelligence (our #1 trend) is one of the few back-end features that can really be differentiating.
Although some vendors, such as Microsoft, can differentiate on the broadness and integration of their productivity stack (Office 365), most are targeting low-code platforms as a differentiator. The reason is obvious: as back-end functionality is quite standard, the greatest challenge is the integration of different features as well as the development of an attractive user interface in a cost-efficient way.
This has been a big hurdle in the past: implementing business applications based on content platforms often required hundreds of man days of coding. In addition, even relatively minor changes to the business process again often accounted for big development projects. So apart from the cost, this also entailed high risk and limited agility/flexibility.
Many vendors are therefore offering low-code platforms as part of the solution. These low-code platforms are much more configuration based and allow to configure, for example, workflows, business rules, data models and even user interfaces. This shifts the ratio “configuration vs development” from 20%/80% to 80%/20%. Besides, it’s less expensive, less risky and more agile.
Some examples of these platforms are OpenText AppWorks and ADF (Alfresco).
Trend #9 – Low-code, compliant case management
Joining the growing trend, we’re also witnessing a move of compliant case management to low code platforms. For example, AppWorks provides a real low-code solution for case management, while content is stored in compliant repositories like OpenText Content Server or Documentum.
In public and finance sectors, compliance is an important part of case management, often using traditional full-code solutions like Documentum xCP. In this case, Documentum handles compliance aspects like retention and security, while the xCP process engine manages case processing.
By using low-code for case management, the use of Agile and Scrum project approaches become much more realistic, because of the speed of implementation. As a result, a much better case management solution is implemented, fully aligned with the day to day work of the end users.
Trend #10 - Centralized archiving
Companies have been increasingly centralizing their archiving solutions as a central service to be used by all applications in the organization. A few years ago the trend was that all these applications had their own archive functionality. Now, more and more companies concentrate them all in a central archive, assuring standardization and centralization of the important compliancy related work. The central archive solution exposes a standard set of services to the organization, resulting in almost no development required on the archive side to connect with new applications.
Technology and content are constantly changing. Will we be able to invert the amount of unstructured data vs the value obtained from such data? Will low-code platforms evolve into no code at all? It’s a guessing game. But one thing’s for sure, Amplexor experts will always be here to guide you through your digital transformation journey, helping you make it all possible.
This post was co-written by Tom Laureys and Marco van Schaijk.
About the author
Tom Laureys is Solution Director ECM at Amplexor based in Belgium. For the past 10 years, Tom has been helping clients across industries find the right technology to effectively digitize their business processes and improve collaboration and productivity. His combination of strategic thinking and expertise in a range of platforms - from Alfresco and Documentum to SharePoint and Office 365 – grant him the capacity to capture new trends on the market and turn them into solutions for our customers.