It's been an interesting year for our newly founded company Icon UK (iconuk) and for the Document-related Systems and “Information Management” slices of the IT sector. In an ‘alphabet soup’, BYOA (Bring Your Own Acronym) area of technology, I have been challenged to reply to the question of “why start another company now?” in this crowded sector, in plain business language. Let's try...
I had been asked by an increasing number of organisations about how best to optimise Print Management, Enterprise Document Software and Web Content. It used to surprise me that in a sea of data just how little meaningful information most organisations have that helps them optimise the convergence of technology, social and business trends. In my quest for relevant analytics, I discovered that there is a largely hidden opportunity area that straddles areas that are mission-critical to service industries. But how to describe (and quantify) this?
This emerging space has been named Customer Communications Management (“CCM”) by industry analysts Gartner, planning to produce an inaugural Report on it early in 2013, as it combines elements of traditional approaches with new ones. I was reminded that in many UK organisations that ‘Output has no lobby’ with print and correspondence costs spread across many stakeholders budgets. In Germany this is not the case and job titles such as 'Manager of Output' both exist and are highly valued.
It may not be surprising then that with the maturity of large scale Document Management Systems (“DMS”) in Germany, that the Best-of-Breed DMS manufacturer for integrated organisation-wide solutions is German. Fortuitously the firm, icon Systemhaus, needed help internationalising their solution. We, a team of experienced IT professionals, saw this as a potential core component for an innovative market solution and decided to represent this leading CCM software suite in the UK market, forming 'Icon UK'. More details can be found on our website, but the key question was ‘do UK based organisations, whether global multi-nationals or UK specific, have the need of a solution to a problem that they have barely heard of?'
In answering this, let’s consider what’s happening in and around large organisations. There are four paradigm changing trends upon us:
• Mobility technology means Freedom to Work¯whenever, wherever¯is here. Voice and Data Networks capabilities and expansion, together with mobile hardware innovation, means not just speed and flexibility but a potential change in business process.
• Big Data is going to change how we work, with sophisticated content analytics making sense of new (eg intelligent sensors) and existing data in both our work and consumer lives.
• Apps and Cloud model brings ease of use to many areas which employees expect in the workplace and the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend is unstoppable. This consumerisation of IT causes many companies to struggle with adopting appropriate process changes.
• Social Media sites are growing in use, number and type - and include B2B (eg LinkedIn) as well as B2C (eg Company Twitter) and C2C (eg Facebook). This offers not just a paper replacement opportunity but the opportunity to collaborate in new ways across the workplace.
The commensurate and huge IT shift from “Systems of Record” to “Systems of Engagement” is unfolding as the two begin to merge as organisations add Engagement Systems. However, executed without sufficient forethought can add cost and complexity to an environment which is already difficult to manage. Content re-use is key; but the issue is how to optimally combine data from Systems of Record with a System of Engagement to get the right balance of personalisation and automation with speed, cost, engagement and effectiveness implications of each choice. The icon software and our consulting, analytics and implementation capabilities firmly address the challenges of this space.
Large companies need Document & Content Solutions from Information Professionals
Research has found that there is not a single fully integrated solution to the problem of providing seamless and efficient enterprise wide communications with customers across all media types. This realisation came from the many organisations asking questions about not just the cost-efficiency of their operations, but how to gain transformational change through process effectiveness. Even with icon spanning all of Document Creation, Output and Content Integration, there are large areas of Enterprise Content Management (“ECM”) and document use where integration with other third party products (eg scanning and imaging of inbound communications) is appropriate.
There is a substantial need for support for large organisations that grapple with understanding the whole picture; where software, IT infrastructure, records management, and business analysis meet. The term “Information Professionals” has been coined to recognise and encourage new ways of working on these business processes leading to new ways of interacting. See the summary on our website. We are all about innovative solutions to old and current business issues.
So, distilling this, the swelling tides of Mobility, Big Data, Cloud, Social Media and ECM integration herald in an ‘ocean of opportunity’ for those organisations best navigating the currents. And yes, we believe there is strong latent demand, that’s why we have developed techniques to help such sponsors ‘make the case’ for change internally with a raft of tools to choose from. Our new customers are therefore likely to be a mix of early adopters of CCM solutions and late adopters of ECM solutions where CCM is one part of the solution. Or simply an insightful sponsor in an influential position!
These solutions change the way businesses communicate with people - as complex individuals.
We have the potential to personalise interactions between large organisations and individuals (whether in home or work environments) like never before. And with the icon Suite of solutions we importantly have the critically important ability to automate and control these interactions to the optimum extent for every different business process, ensuring compliance and cost savings.
That’s why we formed the company; to bring leading edge innovative technology solutions to large UK centric organisations and assist the development of the transformation of their business processes. We believe in a better future and the key building blocks are now in place!
Thanks for all your support and we look forward to working with you this year. Expect to see some additional complementary products added to the portfolio, so stay tuned! As always, feel free to contact myself or any member of our team.