Trad ECM is so out-of-touch

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Traditional, legacy ECM platforms like Documentum, FileNet and OpenText are not ready for this new world. Those technologies were architected in a time when users and content stayed behind the firewall, on servers and PCs.

So starts paragraph two of Alfresco’s whitepaper “Next-Generation ECM”. This, and a recent post by Laurence Hart in which he says “Records Management as we know it is dead and it has dragged Enterprise Content Management (ECM) down with it.”, piqued my interest.

Preceding all this was a promotional email from Alfresco’s Melissa Meinhart: “4 reasons why Traditional ECM is dead“. Her reasons were:

  1. Users are demanding support for their new tablet and mobile devices, new remote working styles and new cloud apps. You aren’t going to change the users. You must change your approach to ECM.
  2. It’s not just users who are different today: the enterprise is different, too. A new, more expansive view of the enterprise requires a new approach to ECM… an approach that recognizes that modern enterprises are not bound by the firewall.
  3. Social content is now also enterprise content. Today’s enterprise content is driven by mobile devices and the fact that photos, videos and comment threads help companies get real work done faster. The context of the content — who posted it, at what time, in what circumstances and their opinion of the content — is now central to that content’s value.
  4. Traditional ECM vendors are failing at addressing the new realities of the IT infrastructure. ECM technology built for the new enterprise needs to span from traditional on-premise deployments, to virtualized private cloud deployments to full-fledged public-cloud SaaS deployments — and everything in between. And it needs to keep everything, and everyone, secure and in sync — no matter where users or content resides.

This got me thinking… My current role has me working with clients to help them create intranets that are “social”. Ones that foster richer collaboration, and interaction.

Customers are focusing more on this “visible” part of the social collaborative experience, along with the “content management” part that goes with it. In this case, I am talking about the content that is surfaced on the Intranet pages.

Those areas that come under the heading of “Information Management”, such as Records Management, or Enterprise Content Management (ECM), are “roadmap” items. Things that the customer knows are important, but that they also realise, needs more extensive analysis, and planning.

This awareness, by companies, that a well-thought out ECM system is a necessity, is truly excellent. But Alfresco’s white paper raises some good points…users are, more and more, disconnected from the Enterprise. They work anywhere, at any time, on any device. And there are still concerns (rightly, or wrongly) about content “in the cloud”.

Another excellent point that the white paper makes is something that I have had many long discussions on, at my current place of employment (and which is worthy of a separate blog post). This is with regards to the social content, and conversations, that are now trying to be fostered (see the above paragraphs). These often contain valuable tacit knowledge, or are artefacts that companies don’t want to lose.

Traditional ECM is not sufficiently capable of accommodating this new user behaviour, the extended enterprise, or social content. And even Microsoft’s SharePoint, now considered one of the latest members of the “ECM club”, is lacking.

Naturally, Alfresco’s white paper is a pitch for its own product. I do not have a problem with that. They raise some valid points, and their solution looks like it could have potential. I do want to look into it further though, and assess whether their solution is the “one”.

If you want to read about their offering that they claim meets the challenges of the new ways of working, as well as some other great insight to this area by, refer to the links below.

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Predicting User Acceptance with TAM
    1. Marko Sillanpää

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