For more details on the cloudification of ECM, see my two-part series published here at TechTarget's ebizQ site. Part 1 is up, and Part 2 is scheduled for later this month.
Q: Is cloud-based ECM still visionary, or now a practical approach?
Bisconti: I think it's more than visionary; I think it is viewed as something that can be implemented immediately. But most of the time, clients are starting first with a business problem that they're trying to solve.
What I generally find is that cloud computing is a reality today, but it is not the first question that should be asked. The first questions are what business problem am I trying to solve, and what solutions are available to solve it?
Q: What are some business problems to which cloud offers an answer?
Bisconti: Am I trying to digitize physical records information to save money, or do I have a business process like policy and claims management, or contract management, or invoice processing that I'm trying to automate and optimize?' 'Or do I have a business problem where I need to provide lifecycle governance and retention management, and e-discovery on my content? Or how do I better discover and find information across my organization?"
Q: How do businesses begin to evaluate a cloud ECM approach?
Bisconti: First, what's the business problem they're trying to solve? As we get into the discussion, then the deployment modality comes into play. Often, the cloud discussion starts either from a line-of-business leader who is looking for more efficient ways to get started, or respond to an opportunity without getting in line on IT's to-do list.
Q: What are the ROI or business benefits of moving to the cloud?
Typically, ROI tends to be around both improved operations, and reduced upfront costs or capital expenditures, which also is tied to being able to scale the cost in line with the value derived. In traditional on-premise environments, sometimes there's a significant upfront cost to get that infrastructure up in place, incurred before you have your first user using the application.
In terms of improved operations, generally it is expected that infrastructure testing and SaaS are expected to cost less than traditional outsourced services by 30-60%. And the majority of customers also believe cloud will also drive down the cost of running applications, especially those that are well-defined and repeatable.
Q: Where is cloud ECM not as suitable?
Bisconti: In a cloud computing model, even though in the long run it might cost you more than a well-managed on-premise environment, the cost is more in line with usage. We have also found less immediate interest in cloud for highly customized applications, and highly customized business processes -- especially those that might have integration with internal application systems and ERP applications. There has been hesitancy to use cloud computing in highly regulated and sensitive data environments.
Q: What types of cloud deployments are you seeing?
Bisconti: There's a spectrum of different kinds of cloud computing, ranging from SaaS-type models, to platform as service, infrastructure as service, process as service, to different types of computing or cloud models. When it comes to ECM, we primarily find that there are use cases that include SaaS-type models of simple content sharing in applications like IBM's Lotus Live cloud service, which is a public cloud SaaS. We also see use cases where organizations are loking for horizontal use cases, with maybe a little more value lije information lifecycle governance, archiving records management and discovery. Often that is in hosted private cloud type of operations.
Q: Does IBM now have cloud-based offerings for ECM?
Bisconti: We definitely do. In general, it is an emerging trend, I wouldn't say that we've seen a majority of our business moving to cloud;, its still a majority doing on-premise deployments.