While last post on this blog was about giving a summary of the paper "Content Management Platforms: the next generation of Enterprise Content Management", we'll enter now in more details on the topic of this paper, starting by providing some more inputs to define Enterprise Content and Enterprise Content Management. As a reminder, if you are interested in the full paper, you can get a copy of it here, otherwise just snack here and wait for the next post.
What Is Enterprise Content Management?
Organizations are becoming more conscious of the worth of the content they have and the value of being able to utilize this content effectively. This is precisely what ECM addresses. ECM is aimed at managing the life cycle of information from its creation to archival and disposal. According to the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), enterprise content management is,
“ECM is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization's structured and unstructured information, wherever that information exists. (Association for Information and Image Management, 2011)”
Although many may assume ECM is just a technology solution, it is not. ECM also includes any operational or strategic processes that rely on content in addition to the tools and technology used to support it.
The first decade of the 21st century has caused “organizational processes” to evolve far beyond what many originally considered possible and content supports many of those processes. This evolution has made ECM a critical component of the enterprise technology ecosystem. Traditionally, technology solutions that support ECM provide capabilities such as:
business rules management
document capture and scanning
that help make access, delivery and management of information more controlled, efficient and less costly. However, this list of features is evolving as ECM evolves – constantly adding new requirements and growing more demanding, with a greater emphasis on integration and long term flexibility.
Just like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) increases operational efficiency and competitiveness, standardizing processes like financial management, ECM allows organizations to gain control over their content to accomplish organizational objectives.
What Is Enterprise Content?
The definition above provides a description of what it means to manage content, but what is the “enterprise content” that is being managed? Enterprise content has evolved. It is no longer just digitized versions of scanned documents or a narrowly-defined set of records. Enterprise content may include any type of content that an organization captures and uses in its daily processes, from structured content in relational databases, XML documents or enterprise applications such as customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, to unstructured content such as text, emails, word processing and spreadsheets.
Enterprise content is not limited to these items, however. Enterprise content may also include multimedia such as images, video, voice mail, streaming media and newer forms of information like geo-data that previously did not exist or occurred infrequently. Social media may also be expanding its impact on enterprise content. However, at this point, the medium is used more frequently for communication, collaboration and Web Engagement than for ECM use cases. In short, enterprise content can be any piece of data, document, enterprise application content or multimedia asset that is associated with an organizational business process, or any content that an organization deems valuable enough to store and manage.
Enterprise content is at the heart of information systems – an important part of the processes and models of the business. Enterprise content is no longer a static entity that exists beside business logic; content co-exists with business logic. It is critical that platforms support content types and metadata that are capable of accurately representing the complex relationships and transactions that occur every day in the business to enable improvements in organizational process.
Drivers for ECM Adoption
As early as the mid to late 1980’s, organizations were implementing stand-alone, tactical solutions from vendors like Filenet, ViewStar and Lotus to capture paper documents and reduce the effort and time required to find information. Businesses continue to adopt content management for many of the same reasons they did over two decades ago, and the pace seems to be increasing.
According to the 2011 State of the ECM Industry by AIIM, there are a number of business drivers for adoption of ECM:
Figure 1: Drivers for ECM Adoption (Miles, 2011)
The study also captured drivers for adopting new ECM systems:
Although we won't go into details on each of the drivers for ECM adoption, it is easy to see that each of the issues will benefit from the support of an ECM solution based on a solid technology platform.