It’s been at least 16 years since the term ECM (Enterprise Content Management) was coined. According to Wikipedia the
Association of Image and Information Management Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM.org) defined ECM in 2000. Not sure if AIIM was really the original author but does it really matter? What does this term, ECM really mean?
The current AIIM definition of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes.
There was a recent post by Marko Sillanpää at Big Men on Content titled “Enterprise Content Management too Vague”. In his post Marko states: “Vendor representatives need to make ECM technology easier to understand and not more confusing. I always feel I’m in an odd place when I have to say to a customer, “yes it is like ___ but we call it ___.””
I can tell you that to a “line of business” executive or decision maker they have no idea what ECM means. It seems that after 16 years of vendors, consultants, and information practitioners trying to explain ECM the result is that most folks walk away confused or more confused.
Maybe it’s time for a change.
I suggest we retire ECM as a term and adopt something else that is more meaningful to “line of business” executives and to everyone else.
The world of content has been changing over the last several years. Now we have semi-structured documents along with the insights and business value locked away in databases and geospatial data which need the context provided by “unstructured” documents to realize those insights and business value. The solutions needed are no longer principally document management.
We need to use the language that our stakeholders and business decision makers understand and can relate to. So, what do we use instead of ECM???
I propose that we use the term “Information & Data Management”. In my previous role as Director, Information & Data Management for the BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization I used this term with the business leaders of the organization. And they got it. This term or phrase was easily understood and I did not have work through a long litany of descriptions like I would if I used the “ECM” term. Notice the title I chose. I was very intentional about choosing that title and also naming the program I created to manage the information and data from the Gulf Oil Spill.
So, what do you think? Is it time to ditch ECM as a term and embrace “Information & Data Management” to describe the people, processes, and technologies we use to effectively manage the information and data that organizations create, receive, and leverage for business value and advantage?
Let me know what you think. Let’s start a healthy debate.