The Evolution of Enterprise Content Management

07 / 02 / 20

Over the last twenty years, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) has been used as an umbrella term for a framework of content management technologies that manage electronic information.

Your Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) will very possibly have been absorbed into a broader ECM applications suite, during a steady stream of acquisitions of market leading EDRMS by vendors of enterprise systems. This could be when IBM acquired FileNet, OpenText purchased Hummingbird or Documentum, Hyland acquired Perceptive or Micro Focus acquired Hewlett Packard’s Records Manager (or for the longer memories out there when Tower Software’s TRIM was purchased by HP).

Now “Content Services Platforms” has emerged as a successor to ECM systems, with industry analyst Gartner defining this as:

“A set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.”

What this means is basically while the overarching business goals of EDRMS or ECM have not changed (regulatory compliance, process efficiency, innovation), these are often now not delivered by a single enterprise platform. Requirements are increasingly being met by document collaboration apps, enterprise file sync and sharing tools, in conjunction with traditional applications. This provides flexible, collaborative apps and services where the key is standardised information management principles across processes and repositories, and delivery of content where it is most useful to users.

Current trends in the Content Services marketplace include:

Analytics and Artificial intelligence – an area of current and future investment for most vendors as organisations seek to derive more insight and intelligence from documents, records and related metadata. Embedding analytics, cognitive services and machine learning capabilities has the potential to transform common collaborative, knowledge-sharing and task assignment use cases.

Cloud – most vendors now offer a cloud based offering and a hybrid of traditional on-site plus cloud solutions.

Mobile & Social – the use of smartphones and social media for information sharing have re-shaped the way in which solutions make content available across multiple channels and devices.

There are some key differences in the topology of solutions available in the Content Services market, primarily due to the differences in the scope of functionality provided and the amount of customisation required to deliver an enterprise solution. The main topology options include:

  • Portfolio – multiple products that combine to deliver a solution, typically introduced to market along with an expression of vendor vision and a strategic capability roadmap
  • Platform – delivers a set of reasonably generic capabilities and functionality, often modularised, which requires development through internal or external resources to deliver a solution for a customer
  • Product – consists of functionality that can deliver a solution ‘out of the box’, or a subset of EDRMS functionality only.

The choice here is obviously dependent on your business requirements but also your desire or budget to use internal or external resources to develop a solution. Some solutions have a high volume of services to be added in order to realise an operational solution.

IFC is well versed in navigating the EDRMS / ECM / Content Services marketplace and has transitioned many organisations from traditional document and records management practices to more agile content management future states. If you would like to know more about how to transform your information practices, please get in touch.