8 January 2013

Software as a service Meets Enterprise Content management

Software as a service Meets Enterprise Content management
The technology that makes the cut then moves from curiosity to “can’t-do-without”. In the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) world, Software as a Service (SaaS) is starting to shift into the second phase when it comes to enduser customers, according to vendors and a technology analyst.

As businesses consider not just the most convenient ECM solutions but also the most economical, SaaS, they say, both in the short run and the long run, deserves a second look, because it’s return on investment (ROI)—in some applications, at certain enterprises—can be stunning.
In general, we’re seeing a growing adoption of SaaS because of low initial and ongoing costs, faster time to deployment, and less risk,” says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research (www. nucleusresearch.com), a firm that specializes in technology ROI studies. “For the content management space, this means two things: First, companies can attack content management problems that wouldn’t have been cost-effective to do before, because traditional solutions are more expensive. Second, more companies—such as those with limited IT staff or challenges like geographical distribution—can access and benefit from content management.”
CEO-startling numbers

Nucleus Research says it has the numbers to back up its claims and that it is the only technology analyst firm certified by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. It also says that in hundreds of studies conducted since its founders split from IDC (www.idc.com), it has documented an ROI for SaaS ECM applications that can stop objectors in their tracks.

Bigelow Tea (www.bigelowtea.com), a company using ImageSilo, an ECM SaaS product developed by Digitech Systems (www.digitechsystems.com) in Denver, Colo., posted an audited ROI of 813 percent after adoption by its Human Resources department. Bigelow has since adopted ImageSilo in other units at the $100 million, family-owned business. Nucleus Research showed that the company enjoyed a two-month project payback and dropped by two-thirds its time-per-call for customer service inquiries.
Customers are asking for it
Customers are seeing ROI in two significant ways,” explains Christopher Ryan, vice president of marketing for SpringCM , an SaaS ECM firm based in San Mateo, Calif. “First of all, there is a quick time-to-value because of SaaS’s rapid deployment, and second, for equivalent functionality, an SaaS solution will conservatively cost 50 percent or less than legacy software designed specifically for your company.
Because SaaS ECM is sold as a service and the customer is not paying for the creation of a software product designed specifically for them, implementation costs are little to none. This alone makes SaaS an attractive alternative to companies who are feeling the pinch of a tough economy, vendors say. “So, companies are paying as they go, reaping the benefits as they’re paying for them, and the total cost of ownership over the lifetime use of the product by the company is so much lower. You’re getting the payback quicker and a greater ROI,” Ryan says.

The Gumby Analogy

There’s an expression being used in the SaaS ECM industry called the “Gumby Analogy”: It’s “green” in that it can save paper and printer ink, like any other ECM product used correctly. But more than that, it’s “flexible” in that once a company is using SaaS ECM to manage, store, and share documents among a far-flung group of people, then by definition the organization is more nimble.
The customers say they’re able to respond to requests quickly, assemble content easier, deliver it, and collaborate around projects in such a way that they not only save money, they make money,” says Jim Till, chief marketing officer of San Francisco-based Xythos, Inc.
Till points to a hospital using Xythos On Demand , the company’s SaaS product. “A small department within the hospital was competing for a grant against a number of larger institutions. They were able to connect disparate parties, pull documents, and share them across geographical space to bring in expert opinions and references that otherwise would not have been possible. They won the grant. So by connecting knowledge experts to serve a common need and address a common requirement, they could reach across the boundaries that otherwise would have stopped them.”
Looking at the Numbers
Nucleus Research in July 2007 listed the key SaaS ECM “vendors to watch” in a report entitled ROI Opportunities in On Demand Content Management as being Xythos, Hyland Software (www.onbase. com), Digitech Systems, and SpringCM.
At that time, Nucleus Research did a benchmark study and found that only five percent of American businesses were using SaaS ECM, but that 12.3 percent were considering adoption. Today, with businesses facing even more regulation in a tight credit market, the potential for customers demanding this solution is considerably greater, the firm believes.
“SaaS content management is an opportunity for both large organizations with existing on-premise content management applications to complement their current practices with a more cost-effective delivery and for small organizations that otherwise couldn’t afford it to leverage the benefits of content management,” says Wettemann.
“From the VAR (value-added reseller) perspective, this is very transactional,” says Sean Morris of Digitech Systems. “The On-Demand model gives them a monthly recurring revenue stream and provides them with new ways to go to market and shortens their sales cycle tremendously. The end-user customer is seeing that it’s much more affordable than an on-site solution, and the ROI is much quicker. So this has really changed the economics for the end-user community and the resellers who are offering it.” 

3 comments:

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