[Edit] After a very entertaining conversation on twitter with https://www.project-consult.de/ we need to make sure that we are settings the stage for the right conversation. When I talk about ECM in this article, I mean the consolidation of ECM services on one platform. And to be 100% complete, the concept of ECM has always been more than one system, vendors just opted to adjust the system to convert into a single vendor system. Check out this presentation. It is one from 2002 but still very relevant in my opinion. So where I say ECM, please read ECM System. A citation by @DrUKff “There is no such thing like ECM software but only software that supports Enterprise Content Management. ECM is about visions, people, strategies, methods, organization, processes, information management and information usage.” [/Edit]
After a very long week at AIIM 2018, I want to take some time to reflect on the lessons learned after attending AIIM 2018. Let me say this, AIIM 2018 was amazing. So, if you were on the fence this year to attend, in 2019 you should. Read more about AIIM here.
One of the most important lessons for me, is that the days of ECMS are numbered. As the reader of this article you might think, “Wait, what? How about my SharePoint on-premises or my Documentum or my OpenText?” And you are 100% right but let me explain first what I mean by this statement. I want to make the following statement. ECMs are dead, Content Services are alive! And the very important side note is that ECMs, legacy and modern are just a gear wheel in the engine.
Content services, according to Gartner, are “a set of services and micro services, 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.” So, the focus of content services is to solve multiple business process challenges with multiple integrated solutions throughout the enterprise. The core mission of ECM, however, has been to achieve a wide range of operational goals using one centralized platform, and many organizations have seen success by using ECM as a centralized system. So, the goal for both is the same, ‘support business processes’ but how they do it is a hugely different.
After talking to a lot of people at the AIIM Conference, it became very clear that having one centralized system did not fulfill their needs as an organization. If they really wanted to be successful they needed multiple systems. A lot of sessions, even the sponsored ones reflected that. What was interesting that the different systems organizations would rely on, were not necessarily in the same vendor ecosystem. I had many conversations with people where their records management platform was different from their collaboration platform and that was different from their intranet system. They were willing to deal with the complexity of integration between these different systems than settling for a tool that in their opinion didn’t serve their needs.
When we bring it back to the topic of the article we can say content services is a new approach to improving operational efficiency, and it relies on multiple tools and strategies to get the job done. The transformation from ECM to content services denotes an important conceptual shift away from the “management” of content and too much focus on the repository as the solution. Redefining the market as content services recognizes that it is no longer strictly about the storage of content for the enterprise, but rather about the consideration of how content is used by individuals and teams — internally and externally — to create, collaborate, share, transform, and leverage that content in business processes and to gain insight.
Figure 1. Gartner, Reinventing ECM
The content services approach, we believe, looks beyond the consideration of where content is being stored and focuses on other important questions, such as:
- Who is storing and processing the content?
- How can a unified content strategy can help those individuals work more efficiently?
- What additional technologies can be integrated with the centralized storage platform to achieve business goals?
So, I believe that Content Services are the engine of organization where an ECM or even a cloud service is just gear wheel in it. The evolution from ECM into Content Services allows us to focus on what truly is important, the people and their task at hand. The use of APIs and Connectors allows organization to use the right tool for the right job instead of forcefully trying to do everything with the same tool.