The COVID-19 pandemic brought an accelerated requirement for remote working and hybrid workspaces to the fore, and with this came the associated need not only for instant digital access to data, but also for more effective and efficient collaboration. Interestingly, the urgent need for improved digital collaboration and better process automation has elevated the use of tools that had already been used for some time.

This is according to Shakeel Jhazbhay, General Manager: Digital Business Solutions at hybrid IT systems integrator and managed services provider, Datacentrix. He explains: “Many organisations have kicked off a digital transformation journey at some level, with a view towards enhancing customer satisfaction and productivity, and achieving business objectives, and most have done for some time now.

“What might not have been predicted is this: the tools which proved to be most helpful for worker efficiency and productivity within the digital workplace over the past three years, were the ones that have already been around for a length of time. This includes  enterprise content management (ECM) and business process management (BPM), which we have seen playing an increasingly critical role as requirements for a digital workplace suddenly ramped up.”

On the ECM side, research from Fortune Business Insights released in August this year stated that ‘due to the growth of social media, greater internet connectivity, and mobilisation, COVID-19 has expedited data generation. Managing a large volume of unstructured data is a problem for businesses. As a result, ECM systems aid document management by allowing for quick retrieval and archiving’.

The report further states that the global ECM market is projected to rise from USD 11.63 billion in 2021 to USD 29.64 billion by 2028 at 14.3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). It is being driven by the cross-channel integration of ECM technology with digital asset management, online content management, and BPM, as well as the increasing adoption of cloud-based ECM software, and growing take up within vertical market segments such as government, healthcare, retail and more.

Forecasts for the BPM market worldwide also predict strong growth, expected to reach a value of USD 4.78 billion by 2026, says Mordor Intelligence.

“We’ve observed a growing shift towards the use of BPM solutions also, as companies have needed to increasingly automate processes, optimise operations, reduce costs, and boost productivity,” says Jhazbhay.

“Looking into the future, we’re set to see these digital tools increase in sophistication, as well as their adoption in more complex use cases. In addition, further integration with line-of-business applications, known as content services, and agile tools such as low-code cloud platforms will be another area of development.

“Businesses have learnt valuable lessons around the importance of embracing digital technologies in a more mainstream, collaborative manner, and one such example has been a renewed focus on, and certainly increasingly better use of, these existing technologies,” he concludes.