SOURCE: AIIM - The ECM Association

May 17, 2005 09:08 ET

Payback Time: The Practical Application of ECM Technologies

AIIM State of the ECM Industry Study Reveals That End-Users Are Focusing on Extremely Practical Applications With Clear Payback.

SILVER SPRING, MD -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 17, 2005 -- AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) industry association, today announced the findings of their annual State of the ECM Industry study entitled: "Payback Time: The Practical Application of ECM Technologies."

This study, a summary of findings from user research in nine countries, points to the continuing movement of ECM technologies and solutions into the mainstream.

"The survey clearly demonstrates that ECM technologies are becoming part of the core infrastructure of both large and mid-sized organizations," notes AIIM President John F. Mancini. "Users who first look to the huge cost savings and rapid return on investment of ECM solutions are now also examining the compliance and process improvement benefits of ECM."

"We found a great practicality among end-users in their approach to ECM. Across the entire sample, the top 5 projects under consideration by end-users -- records management, document control, email management, information capture, and forms handling -- reflect the practicality and need for short-term ROI that is characteristic of most IT investments in the current environment."

Key Survey Findings:

Finding: There are clear differences among the nine countries surveyed in the business drivers for ECM solutions, with compliance and risk reduction a far more important issue in some countries than in others.

Finding: While cost-reduction is still dominant in driving decisions, customer- and risk-related business drivers are rising in importance. There was an almost 20% decrease over the past two years in the percentage of users citing cost-driven concerns as the primary reason for looking at ECM technologies. In Germany, those naming compliance as the primary reason rose from 2% (in 2004-2005) to 7% (in 2003-2004), in the UK, the percentage rose from 13% to 17%, and in Ireland the percentage rose from 9% to 19%. In the US, the percentage rose from 17% to 24%.

Finding: As the scale and scope of implementation increases, the obstacles encountered shift -- from getting senior management commitment and defining requirements -- to "softer" (although conversely much more difficult to address) obstacles such as change management, maintaining employee commitment, and content integration. For example, for users in the UK, requirements definition is twice as likely to be a major obstacle among those who are just beginning to investigate ECM solutions. Selling the project to the executive management and justifying its cost continues to be a far greater challenge for new potential users than for experienced users.

Finding: There is remarkable consistency across nations in terms of the project and technology interests of end-users. Users are focusing on extremely practical applications with clear payback. If it can't be justified quickly, it won't get approved.

Finding: Email management, forms, and security are growing concerns for end-users. It is clear that the increasing media coverage of privacy, security, and email disasters is reaching the ears of end-users. Interests in projects like email management, forms handling, and statutory and regulatory compliance, increased the most in the rankings since our last survey. The rising technologies identified by end-users mirror this: content management/web content management, email management, and security.

Finding: Mid-sized organizations (those with 100 to 1,000 employees) understand the need to get their core document requirements under control and represent a huge untapped market. These organizations voice their concerns in terms of business continuity and risk -- with 40% planning projects over the next 12-18 months.

Finding: The mid-sized market for ECM solutions is very large due to the sheer number of mid-sized organizations (for example, there are 167,000 such organizations in the U.S. alone). However, the expected price points for solutions are very different, and suppliers will not simply be able to apply solutions appropriate to a Fortune 500 organization to the mid-sized market. In Germany, only 14% of users at mid-sized organizations plan to spend EUR 500,000 or more on ECM solutions, compared to nearly 60% at large organizations. The data is comparable for the UK, 25% vs. 71% and for the U.S., 15% vs. 49%.

Finding: Despite having the most litigious culture in the world, users in the U.S. are not as aware as they should be of the importance of managing electronic information. U.S. users are the least confident, among the countries surveyed, in the integrity of their electronic records. Only 64% of U.S. users consider the process by which electronic information is managed to be "very important" or "quite important" relative to potential future litigation. This contrasts with 95% of German users and 83% of UK users.

Finding: ECM technologies and solutions continue to increase in importance for end-users. The percentage of end-users that have purchase plans exceeding $1 million for ECM technologies rose from 17% in 2003-2004 to 19% in 2004-2005 (among those reporting purchasing intentions).

For a full copy of the survey results, go to

About the Study

Over the course of 2004 and 2005, AIIM surveyed over 1,200 end-users and potential end-users of content and document management technologies in nine countries -- United States, United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Ireland, Germany, Australia, and the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg).

Respondents came from a variety of industries, with significant representation from Manufacturing (5%); the IT Industry (9%); Banking, Finance, and Insurance (13%); and Government, Defense, and Public Services (28%)(1). Variation in this industry representation across the nine countries was insignificant.

Across the entire sampling, there was a good representation of organizations of all sizes. Small organizations (1-99 employees) represented 30% of the overall sample, medium-sized organizations (100-1,000 employees) were 28%, and large organizations (over 1,000 employees) were 42%.

Similarly, there were a variety of levels of personal experience with ECM technologies. Those characterizing themselves as "looking at my first ECM project, still have a lot to learn" represented 30% of the sample; 20% were enhancing an initial system; 45% characterized themselves as "experienced -- looking at a 2nd or subsequent project."

This is the second year in which AIIM has conducted this survey on buying plans, core business drivers, and implementation challenges. While some of the countries varied from 2003-2004, the core demographics (in terms of industry segment, size, and experience) were remarkably similar for the 2004-2005 survey.

About AIIM

AIIM - the international authority on Enterprise Content Management (ECM), is leading the way to the understanding, adoption and use of ECM technologies. These technologies, tools, and methods are used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content across an enterprise in support of business processes. As a non-profit association for more than 60 years, AIIM provides news, information and resources through its website and ongoing education through programs that include market analysis, industry standards development, elearning courses, publications, local chapters and regional events. Complete information about the association, is available on the Web at

(1) Throughout this document, the term “organizations” is used to refer to all private, public, non-commercial, and other entities conducting business.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Beth Mayhew
    Manager, Public Relations
    AIIM - The ECM Association