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If Life is Flux, then What Does the Future Hold for ECM?

– By Sean Nathaniel, Senior VP of Workflow Automation Solutions and CTO, Upland Software Inc.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus (c. 500 BCE) famously said “Life Is Flux” and his point has been proven many times over. Flux – or change – is ever-present and is the rule, not the exception, governing all things. The ECM industry is constantly in a state of flux, and in recent years it has experienced dramatic changes and deep discussion questioning its future viability.

Demands on ECM systems will likely intensify more in the future as data and content volumes expand and security needs increase. These phenomena will place a greater burden on a company’s technology tools and personnel. However, once an organization has embraced that change is the constant (not the variable) its employees can take a proactive approach to managing that change.

Recently, I published an article in Workflow Magazine entitled “Workflow Automation: The Future of Work in the Era of Intelligent Information Management” which brings into focus core issues affecting all businesses. New demands for adaptability and efficiency are being driven by an increasingly decentralized workforce. Today’s employees, including millennials who represent the future backbone of corporate entities, are demanding more from their technology. They are attracted to flexible processes that help them manage data and content with minimal training and seamless integration.

Millennials (Age 15-35) = Largest Generation in Workforce

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (chart below), between 2010-2015 the millennials in America (Age 15-35) accounted for 10% of the entire U.S. workforce, making them the largest generational contingent in the country. Flash forward to 2025 when millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce and it’s obvious that though they are perhaps in more junior positions today, they will be the executives of tomorrow.

Business process automation (BPM) presents a crucial solution to bring stability to the volatility of flux, and an answer to increased demands from modern workers, including millennials. In June, the Association of Information and Image Management (AIIM) published an AIIM Industry Watch which said that 79% of organizations now indicate that BPM (and by default, workflow automation) is significant (45%) or imperative (34%) for the success of their business – up 24% from a total of 55% in 2016.

Workflow automation helps employees to collaborate and communicate. It eliminates unnecessary delays and bottlenecks which can slow down progress. It can be configured to establish and reinforce accountability and output greater quality. And the beauty of workflow automation is that it’s infinitely flexible and can be adjusted as requirements and processes evolve. If something is not working right, first acknowledge the problem and then tweak the workflow to produce a better outcome.

The future is bright if we see it that way, and we are fortunate to have tools and techniques on hand to address its various challenges. Millennial workers will continue to disrupt, to push their employers to consider new solutions and approaches. This is all positive as long as the organization keeps its eye on quality, stability, morale and the health of its bottom line. If Heraclitus had been born either a millennial or a seasoned corporate CEO, I’m fairly certain he would agree with having an optimistic attitude about successfully managing life, work and flux, especially given the many automation resources we have at our fingertips today.

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