Nine Reasons Your
ECM System Belongs
in the Cloud

By Jason Burian on September 17, 2021

Information is the lifeblood of every modern organization, and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the toolset companies use to manage this precious asset. But as companies generate more and more massive volumes of sensitive and valuable content every day, many are struggling to keep their legacy ECM applications under control.  Enterprises that traditionally managed all content inside their own data centers are now turning to the flexibility and ease of use the cloud can offer. This movement, driven in part by the COVID-enforced need for remote work and a secure and affordable alternative for many business applications, is causing a surge in demand for cloud-based ECM systems.

But not everyone is there yet. If your organization is still deciding whether to move your document and content management to the cloud, then you are in the right place. In this blog, we will guide you through the nine reasons your business information should be in the cloud, and in our next blog, we share with you the four steps to actually making the transition to cloud-based ECM nirvana.

The Current State of Cloud Adoption

With Cloud Enterprise Content Management or Cloud ECM, organizations can now manage content online. While this approach is not new, businesses have only recently embraced cloud solutions at the desktop level, and the ECM market has evolved in parallel. Industry analysts MarketsandMarkets project Cloud ECM to grow into a $34 billion industry by 2022, indicating that the technology will continue on its current upward trajectory.

Why Move Content to the Cloud?

Enterprise Content Management provides a structured, efficient, and compliant way to manage data, content, and business processes. Both on-premises ECM and Cloud ECM enable this. However, while legacy systems store data on physical servers, generally owned by the end-user organization, Cloud ECM stores everything in the cloud where users can access it directly. The "cloud" component is the actual set of networks, hardware, software, services, storage, and interfaces that connect computing to service.

Microsoft Azure is one of the leading platforms to house ECM in the cloud, offering a breadth of features such as compliance, security scanning, monitoring, alerting, and cost management to help organizations store content, optimize business processes and enforce security and governance. More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies have chosen Microsoft Azure for Cloud ECM. And while the benefits may be many, here are the nine top benefits companies are reporting from their cloud-based ECM solution:

1. Remote Access and Productivity 

Cloud-based ECM allows users to access documents and content anytime, anywhere, and from any device without the need for a VPN or other access mechanisms. It offers a centralized repository for all enterprise content, where users can easily find information and more effectively edit and collaborate, thereby reducing duplicative effort around document processes.

Solutions built on open cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure simplify sharing content with third parties in a secure way without providing network access or requiring an additional level of login security.

2. Greater Security & Compliance Globally

Some organizations are still skeptical about storing corporate documents in the cloud — but the reality is that cloud-based ECM solutions are more secure than most on-site document management systems. Microsoft alone has spent more than $1 billion on security research and development. Advanced cloud technology offers improved firewalls and advanced tools to help ensure cloud documents and information are stored safely.

3. Data Sovereignty

Data sovereignty — or the physical storage location of data — can be carefully managed with a cloud-based content management system that enforces rules based on geographical location. Many cloud-based ECM vendors offer data centers across many geographies so that businesses can secure sensitive information in accordance with evolving local laws.

An added benefit of the Microsoft Azure platform for cloud ECM is that you own your data and can do anything you want with it as a result. This capability, combined with advanced data sovereignty coverage, means that organizations have absolute control, visibility, and governance of their data.

4. Implementation Agility 

Cloud-based ECM can be deployed incredibly fast and without the burden of setting up internal networks, servers, software, and storage. Organizations can realize the benefits of no-code or low-code configurations of previously complex content services within just a few hours.

5. Reduced Capital Expenditures 

On-premises ECM is typically sold by annual license, deeming it a CAPEX expense. On the other hand, cloud-based ECM sells as a SaaS solution by subscription, including annual maintenance and hosting fees, allowing companies to spread the cost equally over time and avoid hefty upfront purchase costs that drain the budget.

6. Automatic Updates & Reduced Maintenance Burdens 

Maintaining an on-premises ECM solution can be very expensive. In addition to the start-up hardware and software installation costs, companies often need to employ specialized IT resources to maintain the equipment. In addition, companies pay annual maintenance fees that can place a significant burden on businesses. In direct contrast, Cloud ECM customers never have to worry about the physical hardware and software, the updates, backups, or patches required to access and manage content. All these services are included and automatically applied. This model eliminates costs and frees up IT resources for more productive and innovative tasks at the organization.

7. On-Demand Scale and Scope 

COVID-19 has forced the adoption of remote work for many organizations, and many users now require fast access to all shared content from anywhere and from any device. Constantly managing remote accessibility, scalability, and performance for essential business applications is no small task for any IT department.

Cloud solutions are naturally flexible. They don't require human intervention or 3-year capacity planning to adapt and scale (up or down) to the evolving needs of the business. The other benefit of this flexible scaling is that you only pay for what you use with most cloud solutions.

8. Business Continuity

Cloud-based information management solutions help with business continuity by ensuring that all organizational content is appropriately governed, backed up, and accessible. The continual monitoring of a SaaS ECM solution reduces any impending risk of system failure or data loss, no matter the situation. Furthermore, the cloud offers a resilient environment that can recover quickly from backups or switch to alternative data centers in an emergency. Microsoft Azure, for example, provides regional replication of data storage services to provide additional layers of performance and built-in failover and disaster recovery.

9. Easier Integration with Line of Business Applications

The market for ECM-focused cloud microservices is large and includes tools for scanning, AI-driven tagging and classification, analytics, and much more. However, integration to other line of business systems is an area where ECM has struggled over the years, with integration to essential business tools such as Microsoft Outlook, Office, and Teams lagging.

The cloud changes this, allowing for simple integration (typically via REST-API) of other cloud- or on-premises-based services, including other ECM solutions, vital security protocols like identity management, automated security provisioning, CRM systems, and more.


Hopefully, by now, you can see that the move to the cloud makes perfect sense for your organization and its content management systems. All nine of the reasons above offer a compelling argument — but all nine together are confirmation, for many organizations at least, that they need to be cloud-based ASAP.

If you still need convincing, take a look at some of our other resources including our eBook, "Modernizing ECM for the Cloud," or our webinar, "Turning Microsoft Azure Into a Document Management Powerhouse." However, if like us, you are already convinced about the need to move to the cloud, then you need to head to the next blog in this mini-series that focuses on the four steps you need to take to move your content to the cloud.

To the Cloud — And Beyond!

As VP of Product Management, Jason loves investigating new and exciting technologies that help customers solve business problems. He puts this research into action by designing, building and launching various software solutions for KnowledgeLake.

About KnowledgeLake:

KnowledgeLake provides content management solutions that help busy organizations intelligently automate their most important document processes. Since 1999, we've created award-winning, Microsoft-centric solutions that have helped thousands of companies around the world focus on their mission rather than their mission-critical documents.


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