The first part of this article focused on the horizontal processes in companies. Now we switch to vertical processes in the context of Digitization 4.0. In addition, I want to take a moment to discuss the potentially disruptive character of digitization – using an example from one industry. Then I will take a look at what digitization could mean for the ECM industry.
Typical vertical processes in the context of new technologies
Many departments in companies can already benefit today from the consistent use of digital products. The digital personnel file is just one example. The bottom line is that traditional, paper-based processes demand more time. That begins with searching files and ends with a large amount of digitally supported processes – just imagine the situation in a large company with a variety of locations.
It is very obvious that a digital personnel file avoids these problems and simplifies the day-to-day work of all authorized employees who access these documents – all the more so when the ECM system used has an app connection, for example the VacationApp based on EASY SPIRIT. But even more can be envisioned beyond that. The following services can readily be implemented in a personnel file:
- Training status of individual employees and the automatic assignment to and information about training options; this enables transparent representation for employees, managers and HR
- Bonus programs according to individual assessment plan and employee profile; for example, agreements on objectives in consulting which are oriented on services performed in customer projects, or individual goals
- Fast initial sick calls by employees via app – and thus automatic distribution to all relevant persons in the company, such as managers, HR, or assistants for rescheduling meetings, if necessary
There are no limits to what can be imagined here. Of course, compliance requirements are important at this point. There is a lot that must be taken into account in terms of data protection. And it is clear that HR is only one department among many, but also the one with the most sensitive data. Digitization is possible wherever information can be digitized. This information can then be made available in an app or an employee portal. Ideally, Digitization 4.0 will increase the efficiency of specific company processes, just as it focuses on employees and their integration into the company. Thanks to employee self-service, every employee can also carry out their desired activities/processes on their own, with no action required from others.
Digression: classic business models and the potentially disruptive character of digitization
If you look at the changes that took place in the last 10 years, you quickly see the disruptive character of digitization. Here’s an example: for a long time, facilitating the production of newspapers and the operation of editorial offices was considered to be the most distinguished activity and characteristic of publishing houses. The result: printed products. That has fundamentally changed in the last 15 years. For more than a decade, publishers have seen themselves forced to publish their offers on the Web as well, due to the migration of their readership to the digital world. And more than that, readers not only want to read their news in their browser, they also want to be notified about the latest events automatically – be it in a feed reader or an app. Naturally, this results in other phenomena – declining advertising revenue, for one.
But Digitization 4.0 has also changed a few things in the editorial office. Thus, the news and press agency Associated Press (AP) has been performing robo-journalism for some time, using the Wordsmith software from the US company Automated Insights. Of course, this only works for certain types of texts at the moment. What this ultimately means for editorial offices remains to be seen.
Of course, there are many such examples of the disruptive character of digitization. Consider iTunes. On the one hand, iTunes was able to offer music fans the option of hearing their favorite songs anytime and anyplace. On the other hand, iTunes made it possible for artists to go without a record label and even to be successful without one. As a result, retailers and pressing plants came under a lot of pressure. Further examples could include companies like Uber, Airbnb, and so on. The lesson to be learned at this point is that there are a lot of opportunities for the ECM business here, although not with the classic, monolithic architecture.
ECM technologies of the near future in the context of digitization
What happens next? What is the next big thing? I don’t want to speculate about that right now. It makes more sense to me to look at the ECM industry. And to pause for a moment to see what effect the technological changes of the last five years have had on enterprise content management and where the journey could go in the near future.
Off to the clouds – EASY Cloud Platform
EASY SOFTWARE AG has its finger on the pulse of the times. We made this move early with the products EASY SPIRIT and the EASY CLOUD PLATFORM. Not because we just wanted to be trendy, but rather because we are firmly convinced that these software products give companies significant advantages, including:
- easier integration of horizontal and vertical processes thanks to the Cloud Platform
- easier linking and implementation of these processes thanks to mobile applications
- faster development and implementation of new, in-house processes
- a strong boost to transparency beyond platform limits
- a clear gain in the opportunity to really work mobile
The immense advantages which companies can already gain now from EASY CLOUD PLATFORM products can be seen in the following example based on the field service app developed for a customer. And it is only one example out of many. With these technologies, EASY Software AG is ready for the opportunities and challenges of the coming years.
Creating advantages: foresighted software design
Thanks to the EASY CLOUD Platform/EASY SPIRIT and SPIRIT2Design products, we are able to keep development and implementation times at a minimum. The days when development depended on the specific mobile device and its operating system are over. In addition, linking ERP systems is part of a flexible and quick to implement solution, thanks to stable APIs in the CLOUD. Previously, the work here often had to be done two or three times over. EASY SPIRIT2Design abstracts these differences and now succeeds in configuring, operating and maintaining applications on a central platform – and using SDKs to integrate them quickly and efficiently in any mobile end device. We are oriented completely on our customers’ requirements. The last part of the article series can be found here.