The Evolution of ECM

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The Evolution of Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Ever since the first piece of electronic content was stored on a computer hard drive, Moore’s law and the pace of generation of electronic content has set organizations large and small on a road to needing tools to manage the content that has become an increasingly vital set of assets and liabilities.

The definition of ECM has changed as previously paper based business processes have become electronically generated and as new content sources have sprung up and the opportunities and risks associated with their content has grown exponentially over time.

AIIM for instance have modified their definition of ECM since first defined in the early 2000’s (see Wikipedia ECM Section):

Organizations have typically been behind the curve in being able to manage their information in a way that is appropriate to supporting their businesses with paper processes being augmented and replaced and as new content sources have sprung up. This lag between organizations generating electronic content and putting in place strategies and systems to manage the content appropriately has seen some big consequences, with examples being circumstances where large financial organizations were unable to produce the correspondence relating to mis-selling and having to make large scale compensation payments to customers whether products were actually mis-sold or not because they could not produce the relevant paperwork/documents.

With the evolution of ECM systems that can manage content from many sources there is no excuse for organizations who are deploying new systems that generate content not to have a suitable strategy in place that leverages existing assets to ensure that content is managed appropriately.

This means that the big challenge for organizations isn’t really the structured content or the system generated content that is part and parcel of every big enterprise’s IT infrastructure (although scale and big data challenges there are aplenty), rather it is the unstructured content, the collaborative content and sources such as email, document management, and social media where it is more difficult to categorize and therefore appropriately manage the content.

For these environments ECM has been less successful in deployment – putting in place Document and Records Management systems has had patchy success, email remains an area of concern for all large regulated enterprises as it persistently refuses to be replaced by more controllable and formal ways of collaborating (no matter how ad-hoc/informal they are), and ECM systems that are deployed to address this have poor levels of adoption because they get in the users way.

Repstor addresses this by having products that inspire ECM adoption for unstructured content and encourage collaboration.