The ECM Revolution – Unblurred

Early 90s

Twenty years ago Allan Thicke was a household name because of his role as Dr. Seaver on the television show Growing Pains. Stamps cost 29 cents. And financial institutions were just beginning to curb growing storage costs by imaging or digitizing paper documents. ECM revolution unblurred

Historically, most financial institutions looked at document management – also called enterprise content management (ECM) –as a tool just for imaging and reclaiming storage costs by digitizing documents. But there is so much more that they can do than simply scanning, storing and retrieving signature cards and loan applications. 

Mid 90s

Unfortunately, financial institutions were still drowning in paper. And the advent of email only made things worse. Now there was paper AND digital content located all over the place.

Look at the mortgage process. It is infamous for being nothing short of paper overload. But even the best imaging technology doesn’t get rid of the costs and slow processes that go along with day-to-day business operations.

Fortunately, ECM with electronic workflow was gaining traction, helping to improve processes across departments, while integrating with critical business software applications like core banking platforms, loan origination systems, AP systems, etc.


Fast forward 20 years. Allan Thicke’s  son, Robin Thicke, released Blurred Lines which became the “song of the summer” in the U.S. and peaked at number one in 14 countries – accompanied by a much talked about music video. Stamps cost 46 cents. And financial intuitions have evolved their approaches to imaging – realizing that it’s not just about managing documents but really about how to manage internal processes to deliver better service and attract new business.

ECM users are able to access documents when and where they need them, whether it’s directly from a loan origination system or a virtual e-folder. Need to get a credit score or other data from a third-party web-based system before processing a loan? ECM not only automatically retrieves that information, but then routes all required information to the right underwriter.

Virtually any manual, time-consuming processes in a paper-based world can be automated with ECM. No more lost or misfiled documents. No more shipping paper loan files between offices. No more worrying about locating documents during an audit.

ECM should be thought about as a technology to leverage across the entire financial institution to automate and streamline processes from loan origination to new employee onboarding. If an institution has already invested in an ECM solution, the next step is to explore how to leverage the existing technology across the enterprise including human resources and accounting departments. 

Next year and beyond

We all suffer some growing pains, but by embracing scalable ECM technology, you’ll have a solution that grows along with your organization as it evolves. A fully integrated ECM solution helps you optimize and automate processes – from lending and employee onboarding to complying with legislation and compliance standards. 

And the added ability to communicate across the organization means no more blurred lines.

Have a date or milestone to add to the ECM revolution timeline? I’d love to hear your comments!


Michelle Harbinak Shapiro

Michelle Harbinak Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro brings more than 15 years of experience in the banking industry to her role as Financial Services marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best... read more about: Michelle Harbinak Shapiro

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