A few months ago, I attended Hyland’s user conference, CommunityLIVE 2017. While I was there, I got some face time with Ed McQuiston, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Hyland, and Hyland’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Brenda Kirk.

While at CommunityLIVE, McQuiston and I discussed the evolution of ECM and he told me what he thinks about ECM’s potential identity crisis. Later, I got to speak to Kirk. We discussed her keynote and talked about Hyland’s acquisition of Perceptive from Lexmark.  

Does ECM have an identity crisis?

If you ask Gartner or AIIM what they think about the term ECM, they’d tell you it’s an outdated term. Gartner would tell you that it should be called Content Services, while AIIM would say the proper term is Intelligent Information Platform. Ed McQuiston would agree … at least about the outdated part. He told us that — for now – the term ECM will stay and that it will continue to be a “pillar under this umbrella of whatever we want to call it.”

But the evolution of “whatever we want to call it” is making the moniker problematic.

For example, Hyland’s current version of OnBase — which they categorize as an Enterprise Information Platform — is capable of doing so much more than its predecessors. Today’s technology facilitates all of the data across disparate, core business systems, connecting everything. “It creates this continuity around a customer, or a student, or a claimant regardless of what line of business application you’re using or what department you work in,” said McQuiston.

And because today’s ECM solution has evolved so much since “the whole ‘scan, store, preserve, deliver’ AIIM mantra from 2002,” he’s happy that the term is evolving. “The ECM term is limiting — and it’s just an unfair way to be represented in the market, given all these other things we do.” This mischaracterization, he says, pigeonholes the technology, and customers aren’t considering it for applications that OnBase can fit extremely well. “It makes it difficult to get a seat at the table,” he said, “because someone put you in a box that you don’t belong in.”

Is ECM dead? Hyland had some fun with the theme in its opening video during the keynote featuring president and CEO Bill Priemer, along with Kirk and McQuiston. It’s definitely worth the look. Overall, McQuiston is happy to see the name change because “it at least better captures what we’re talking about today.”

The lowdown with Brenda Kirk

Kirk filled me in on the background of her keynote. “The biggest thing that we wanted to do is articulate what our vision is for the OnBase platform and for the Perceptive acquisition,” she said. Kirk used the theme of “traveling to Mars” to share the company’s long-term vision. (“Mars,” she noted, is the code name for one of Hyland’s projects.)

She told me that part of that vision includes continuing their aggressive investments in R&D, just as NASA did with the Atlas 5 rocket and Curiosity rover to Mars. “We’re taking 15 percent of our total revenues, and we’re investing it right back into R&D,” she said. She noted that the company’s R&D dollars will continue to fund “uncompromised quality software,” launch improved quality assessments, increase the use of automation, create a “release candidate” program for OnBase 17, improve security, and more. In addition, the company added 150 employees and funded new planning and product management functions.   

Another part of that strategy is using the moon — or in this case, OnBase 17 — to get to Mars. “OnBase is this really catalytic force,” she said, “and we’re going to use OnBase in that very same way — as a slingshot — to realize our vision.”

Next, we spoke about the Perceptive acquisition. “We see the Brainware technologies very specifically as being a great complement and accelerant to the work we are already doing,” she said. They will keep Brainware for the entirety of their capture portfolio, namely for its name recognition in the intelligent capture arena. “That’s the area we are interested in —  artificial intelligence and how that plays into the platform and unlocking the value that lives in unstructured data for a lot of our customers.”    

Our take

I’m with McQuiston on ECM’s “branding” issue. ECM is a dated term and does a terrible job of describing what the system it currently refers to actually does. When ECM was about scanning, documents, and sharing them with others or organizing them in repositories, the term was fine. But now, what we call ECM is much more focused on centralizing all of the information across your organization’s business systems, and delivering it where it’s needed, when it’s needed. And if we’re going to focus on managing information, then maybe we ought to put the word “information” in the name.

But regardless of what we call ECM, Hyland plans on using said technology to get to Mars. Maybe not literally — but when you consider their ambitions to innovate and their aggressive R&D investment strategy, it’s a good guess that they’ll be approaching their metaphorical Mars very soon.  

Patricia Ames
Patricia Ames

is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com