I am really not big on speculative, future prediction posts. There are too many factors in our highly complex world that can derail even the most well researched and thought out theories for how our industry could develop, so I am going to shy away from predictions per se. Instead, I'll consider some general directions, and why other people's predictions make me laugh and make me feel like a Knowledge Management / Enterprise Content Management Grinch! Prepare for a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past ...
2012 -- Good, Bad or Ugly ?
Whether we look at Knowledge Management (KM) strategies and the tools to enable them, Enterprise Content Management (i.e. the enterprise wide efforts to manage unstructured content) or the collaboration space, it is actually quite difficult to make sweeping statements about the industry's performance over the last year, never mind make highly accurate predictions for the next one.
Let's take the categorizations from a piece of research commissioned by AIIM; these being the relationships between systems of record and systems of engagement, and a focus through three specific lenses -- Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo).
For a start, if you're not an old cynic like me and actually believe that there are massive distinctions between systems of record and systems of engagement, rather than just "old ECM marketing" and "add social to everything" -- would you say there were improvements during the year in both sectors?
If you work in the systems of record space, did IBM or EMC Documentum roll out any jaw dropping new capabilities in "in place or in context records management"? Perhaps OpenText or Hyland introduced some stunning new technology?
Even if they did, would your organization have the budget handy to implement it in the first year? Or would you still be writing the business case now, for say, fiscal year 2015 funding ?
It appears to be the nature of the content management systems that might be categorized as "systems of record," or document and records management systems (and perhaps out of our scope, our ERP and HRM systems, etc.) that they are not "sexy" -- they do what they do, and unless you're under regulatory pressure to improve them (for example, in the Pharmaceutical industry), then there is often something considered to be higher priority that you will be fighting for the money.
Obviously this differs by industry sector, but if your organization is a laggard, then while everyone else is looking to add "social" and focus on the systems of engagement, you're stuck with scanning, imaging, workflow and repositories; trying to reduce the mountains of paper -- a worthy course for sure, but old hat, and not the stuff of exciting predictions.
So did your organization get to focus on systems of engagement in 2012? Was it considered important? Or more to the point, was there budgetary tension between what was more important, engaging with customers / clients, or engaging with employees? Perhaps you're lucky enough to be in an enlightened organization that considers both groups to be vitally and equally important?