The Cloud Computing Revolution Hits ECM
One could make a good case that the move to cloud computing represents the biggest change in information processing since the introduction of personal computing. Recent estimates put the cloud computing market at $150 billion by 2013, mostly due to the increase in cloud usage by small and medium size business.
In its most general sense, cloud computing is a term used by some to represent any significant degree of computer processing that is done remotely and communicated through the Internet, allowing it to be sold as a service to end users, and reducing or removing the need for extensive in-house software and hardware. A stricter definition requires the leasing of software, infrastructure, and hardware, differentiating cloud computing from its subsets, such as Software-as-a-Service (NASDAQ:SAAS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). However defined, it is shaking up the world of corporate IT, allowing companies to trade in the trouble and costs of running everything in-house for a world of outsourced processing, where somebody else worries about the back end.
The advantages of moving to some degree of cloud-based processing are driving this rapidly unfolding revolution:
• When done right, a cloud-based system can run any software application an in-house based system can run.
• Putting everything on the cloud allows users 24/7 availability, to both functionality and data, from virtually anywhere in the world.
• If the switch to cloud based processing is comprehensive, it means that the company can avoid the cost of providing and maintaining heavy-duty hardware and software for its employees, opting instead to provide basic low-end capability, just enough to access and use the big stuff that resides out in the cloud.
• Employees can access and utilize as much or as little processing power as they need for a given task.
• And, although questions of security tend to be the first ones asked when considering a cloud conversion, especially if a company routinely deals with highly confidential client data, the majority (and growing) sentiment is that basing processing and data on the cloud actually offers more security than depending upon your own home-grown local system.
The bottom line is that cloud computing offers leverage, the ability to increase what a company's employees can do while reducing the costs and headaches of making it all possible. It's a leverage that has only recently become available and affordable due to advances in data communication, processing, and security. As a result, 2012 is seen by many as the takeoff year for cloud processing. Numerous companies are now scrambling not only to utilize cloud processing for their own operations, but also to have a cloud-based offering that they can take to a cloud-hungry market. It's becoming increasingly clear that there are few data processing requirements that cannot be met more efficiently by using a cloud-based model.
Take for example the most basic of business functions, the management of company documents and other content related to organizational processes. It's a need independent of industry, a fundamental requirement of every business: the ability to organize, store, and access critical business content. Today it's called ECM (Enterprise Content Management), and its purpose is to control company information, from initial creation, through all its forms of use, to ultimate archival and disposal. The idea is to help corporate America get a grasp on the vast amount of unstructured data that is too often difficult or impossible to efficiently utilize due to poor organization and tracking. In some cases, otherwise useful information can be essentially lost, trapped as paper or digital content that has been buried with no reasonable path to access. It's a little like when a valuable work of art turns up in some university basement, hidden away for decades in a corner simply because nobody knew it was there.
ECM is an industry that has gained a lot of traction in the past decade, because it's seen as a cost-effective way to increase the efficiency of company operations, providing a continual payback for the life of the organization. But a company called GlobalWise Investments (GWIV), and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Intellinetics, has shown how the basic advantages of ECM can be increased through the use of cloud-based technologies. The company has developed the Intellinetics Intellivue™ cloud platform, into which hardware vendors such as Lexmark (NYSE:LXK), DELL (DELL), and Samsung are now directly integrating, a confirmation that these companies see the cloud as the future of ECM. In fact, IBM (NYSE:IBM), SAP (NYSE:SAP), and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) have all sought to acquire cloud and SaaS technology companies, the fastest way to establish a presence in one of the hottest fields in IT.
The Intellivue cloud-based platform gives the client the ability to access and manage every piece of content they produce or receive, including but not limited to paper documents, digital content, database print streams, and e-mail, making the data accessible from virtually any PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, from anywhere in the world. Leveraging management and key department heads, GlobalWise Investments has a strong foundation from which to capture significant market share within the lucrative $149 billion Business Software & Services industry.
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