The Internet of Things (IoT) brings a new source of data to the equation. It involves collecting data from almost any piece of hardware (“things”) that can be connected to the Internet. A common consumer example is being able to control your home heating and cooling system through your smartphone. A business example might involve the input of data from various points in a supply chain, like a warehouse, a receiving dock, and even a truck.
ECM is typically integrated with data-driven line-of-business applications in order to create transaction management applications. Integration with the IoT is the next phase.
The emerging smart process application (SPA) market is expected to grow from $24.35 billion in 2015 to $43.28 billion in 2020. SPAs basically combine input from multiple sources in order to drive a business process. This process could be loan applications, for example. An SPA addressing loan processing might combine information from paper forms, external credit reports, and internal data sources. The idea of an SPA is to quickly and efficiently assemble all the information needed in order to make a business decision.
Enter the IoT. Let’s say a power plant has to keep track of when its generators need maintenance. The performance of these generators may be monitored through an IoT application. When the performance slips below a certain level, it could kick off an SPA workflow that could immediately alert a service supervisor, as well as go into an ECM system and pull up any relevant contracts and manuals that could be used for reference.
Connecting metadata points
“Metadata” is one of the popular buzzwords being thrown about in the ECM industry today. Metadata are basically descriptions or words that enable users to identify content and know what it’s associated with. In the above example, metadata items related to service manuals might be the vendor of the generator, the model number, and the location where the equipment is installed. Metadata often comprise information that is valuable to line-of-business systems, as well as ECM systems, and can be used in order to link the two.
It also makes sense to connect these same metadata to IoT applications. In the supply-chain example, order numbers, customer names, and dates and times are examples of metadata that can be used in order to classify data coming from the IoT. They can also be used in order to classify shipping documents. As long as metadata streams are connected, it makes it easy to compare the shipping documents in order to see if they match the data coming from the IoT system.
Time to move
Linking IoT and ECM is probably more of a future vision than something you are going to run into in the market today. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start asking. ECM is very popular in the shipping industry, where the IoT will clearly prove valuable. The manufacturing market is another place to look for early adopters. Even MFP vendors are starting to connect their products to the IoT.
Like cloud and mobile, IoT will soon penetrate every aspect of business and personal life. For an ECM system to truly manage an “enterprise,” it’s going to have to be linked with IoT. So, if you are in the ECM market, it’s time to start studying IoT and seeing how you can leverage it in order to create SPAs.