With a certain amount of trepidation, I find myself talking about what the Document Management market will be like 12 months from now. After all, “Prediction,” as the great Danish physicist Niels Bohr once observed, “is very difficult – especially about the future.”
In January I predicted how 2016 would be a ‘A Fantastic Year For Every dmcollaborator’, noting how the economic uncertainty that had overshadowed the market since the 2008 financial crisis was at an end, and how opportunity presented itself as a result.
I think that was right – a lot of us have seen great business in the intervening 11 months. However, I failed to foresee the biggest twist of them all when it comes to uncertainty: Brexit – something whose full ramifications will take decades to play out, and which has made some companies hesitant about investment in core services, including technology.
Nonetheless, I remain optimistic about our sector’s prospects for 2017 and beyond, given how important what we offer businesses is. So, what drivers of change are our sector being shaped by?
A fully consolidated DM market
Consolidation of the DM market will continue at the enterprise end, but there’s not much runway left there. Most of the big hardware players that wanted an ECM component have secured one by now.
Tech complexity masking simple business reality
AI, Big Data and cloud are all real game changers. But they are great engines that need the right sort of fuel to be effective, and DM is a key part of the back end process that firms need to power all this great new technology. You can’t automate and get Machine Learning sorting out all your problems if you are still shuffling paper round behind scenes, after all! So DM moves quietly to the centre of the stack, the thing you have to have for the other things to work at all. Think of it like this, what Uber teaches us is that you can disrupt anything with the right information – but how do you collate, store and share that information to begin the revolution?
DM – the essential M&A technology
As the world accommodates itself to a post-Brexit, Trump world, there’s going to be a lot of business disruption and innovation. Also, I suspect, an awful lot of old-fashioned business activity and buying and selling of companies, across international borders. That translates to a need for better due diligence – it’s estimated that 80% of planned mergers fall apart because of issues at this stage of the negotiation. As a result, full digital transparency and visibility into the business is a necessity – digital transparency and visibility is only possible if all the data is digitally captured, stored, archived and accessible, something only DM can do.
Cloud as default
Finally, for most of our markets, cloud has been totally accepted and is the first option for most business buyers, given its simplicity of delivery and practicality. If you’re not on this page, then I urge you to spend some of the Xmas break crafting a cloud message for your company. It’s worth it!
So there – my thoughts on the future for our market.