Consumer-oriented technologies are having an enormous impact of technology vendors and users alike – and it’s particularly apparent in enterprise content management (ECM). The consumerization of IT is pushing high expectations onto traditional ECM, sending the industry scrambling to meet the needs of the modern consumer: elegant design, usability, agility, flexibility and interoperability.

ECM – like the rest of IT– is feeling the effects on an increasingly consumer-oriented, digitally literate workforce. In a business environment where employees are regularly leveraging technologies like gamification, social recognition and personal analytics, tolerance for archaic and stale enterprise applications – like those of traditional ECM – is rapidly declining.

On a fundamental level, ECM vendors need to address demands of the modern user experience. ECM solutions today are expected to be fluid enough to allow users access and create what they need on their own terms. Traditional ECM never offered this kind of user-information interaction. ECM monoliths set the bar low in terms of ease-of-use – it simply wasn’t a priority. For these vendors, usability was an objective secondary to securing data, which means that older architectures simply do not allow for the efficiency and agility that users demand in today’s era of IT.

Rising trends are forcing ECM vendors to take inventory of what they’re really able to offer modern organizations and users that have quickly grown accustomed to a much higher standard. One area where many vendors are finding themselves reevaluating their strategy entirely is interoperability. Staying relevant in today’s collaborative, fast-paced landscape requires that ECM solutions deliver simple interoperability and offer flexibility to the companies they serve.

Self-service is another area of consideration – the so-called ‘citizen developer’.  Digital transformation is opening up opportunities for employees and teams to create their own applications that will allow them (and others in the team) to get work done faster and more efficiently. This kind of self-service citizen development, when sanctioned by the organization, can be instrumental in improving employee engagement, according to industry analysts. ECM needs to be agile enough to accommodate these bimodal users and allow them to create their own content-centric applications – even within the boundaries of a highly regulated industry.

Consumerization seems to have been throwing a few curve balls to the ECM industry. In this era of user-centric IT, ECM is being asked to undergo an extensive transformation. Combined with the disruptions of cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT), perhaps John Mancini is right – the ECM Era as we know it is truly coming to an end. But this farewell is not necessarily teary-eyed for all. If you’re like most modern consumers, you’ll likely breathe a sigh of relief to see traditional and complex ECM applications retired. And if you’re like us here at Systemware, you might even be excited to see what’s next on the horizon for content management!