Time to Retire the Term ECM???

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?Time to retire?

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.

Will the 2010 AIIM expo + conference be cloudy? – Repost From AIIM ERM Community

This is a repost from my blog post on the AIIM ERM Community Expert Blog

Will the 2010 AIIM expo + conference be cloudy?

Cloud I am looking forward to the 2010 AIIM expo + conference this year after missing the conference the last two years. I always learn something new and it is a great chance to meet some really smart people.

One topic I am interested exploring extensively is how the ECM market is responding to the “Cloud Computing”. There has been quite a bit of hype over the last couple of years and it will be interesting to see how far the ECM vendors have gone to close the gap between myth and reality.

First let’s make sure we are all on the same page. I will use Forrester’s definition for cloud computing: “A standardized IT capability, such as software, application platform, or infrastructure, delivered via Internet technologies in a pay-per-use and self-service way.” Pretty straight forward, right, then why all the confusion?

Microsoft and the Cloud

Microsoft has been heavily promoting both their Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Windows Azure. These are two distinctly different offerings with BPOS delivered as software as a service (SaaS) and Windows Azure delivered as an infrastructure as a service (IaaS). So how are these two offerings different? Here is a simple definition of these two offerings:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):

IaaS (Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Microsoft’s Azure) provide virtual computing environments allowing customers to use web service interfaces to launch instances of operating systems and associated blocks of storage on demand. Customers use the provider’s administrative console to start, stop, and access and configure their virtual servers and storage.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS):

With SaaS the vendor supplies the hardware infrastructure and their software product over the internet for use as a service on demand. Good examples of SaaS offerings include web-based email and applications from Google, CRM (sales management & reporting) from SalesForce.com, SharePoint, Exchange Email and Office Communicator from Microsoft with BPOS.

Other ECM Vendors and The Cloud

No doubt the other ECM vendors at the 2010 AIIM conference will be talking about their Cloud offerings. Looking at the conference agenda and reading the descriptions of the keynote sessions the only session which discusses the Cloud is the keynote entitled “Reinvent Work, Collaboration, and Innovation in the 21st Century” by Google’s Cyrus Mistry.

Reviewing the conference sessions, I did not really see many sessions (only a few) addressing ECM in the Cloud. So it will be interesting to see what is being talked about on the exposition floor by the ECM vendors. When I searched for “Cloud Strategy” on EMC’s website the recommended link in the search results was Virtual Computing Environment coalition (VCE) which looks like it is targeted at enterprises who want to create a “cloud-like” utility computing capability within their firewalls also known as a “Private Cloud”. I will be interested to see if EMC is working on a similar SaaS offerings to Microsoft’s BPOS.

My goal this week will be to see who really “get’s it” and understands the implications and challenges of managing your corporate information in the Cloud. I want to see who has already thought through the personal data privacy and e-Discovery implications. I will be really excited if I find someone who has gone the extra mile and defined an implementation pattern and methodology for leveraging the Cloud for ECM. I am not holding my breath on this one.

I’ll let you know what I find out this week.

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The New AIIM Communities Goes Live


The new AIIM Communities online platform went live today. Most of the AIIM Expert Bloggers already have made posts to the Electronic Records Management (ERM) and Enterprise 2.0 communities.

I am honored to join such a distinguished group of expert bloggers. We will be writing regularly and I really look forward to reading my fellow bloggers’ posts. My first post, “Why I do this: Part 1”, is up and I will have another post up later today. I plan to write about the AIIM expo + conference next week.

Let me know what you think!

Joining a Very Special Group

MPj03865060000[1]I saw Greg Clark’s post over the weekend and realized I had neglected to mention; Starting later in April I am joining a very special group of thought leaders; aka the “AIIM Electronic Records Management Expert Bloggers”.

So, besides trying to climb back up on the BetterECM blog horse and start writing more frequently, I now will have Bryant Duhon cracking the whip to make sure I get my weekly AIIM ERM Expert Blog post in on time. This should be fun and the most exciting thing will be to see what my “expert” colleagues will have to say.

If you have topics that you would like me to tackle or questions you would like me to try and answer please add a comment and let me know. As most of my readers know, I am not bashful and love to take on challenging topics and issues head-on.

This should be fun!

BetterECM LegalTech New York 2010 Presentation


For those of you who attended my presentation in New York at LegalTech  this year I wanted to thank you for your patience. I had planned to make my slides available some time ago but was overcome by “life” and the demands of my “day job”.

Anyway, the presentation was well attended and I had some great feedback from a many people. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and ideas related to my presentation.

I have uploaded the slides along with my notes which can be downloaded here.

I would love to hear what you think of the ideas I presented and the approach of opening a Greenfield and closing down the Landfill. I am thinking of taking these concepts even further and wonder if you think that would be useful. Maybe a book????  Not sure but would love to hear what you think.

Consolidation Resumes: Iron Mountain Acquires Mimosa Systems


Well, looks like 2010 may usher in the resumption of  the consolidation in the ECM marketplace. It will be interesting to see who will be next.

With this acquisition of Mimosa Systems, Iron Mountain moves more closer to a credible Cloud provider of long term electronic records storage by providing a robust on-ramp onto the Cloud storage infrastructure.

The question will be, “Can Iron Mountain provide a credible Cloud based solution which includes the necessary services to successfully move customers into the Cloud? Having the storage infrastructure and now the onramp for email, SharePoint, and files is one thing. The real test will be delivering the end-to-end services necessary for large organizations to adopt the Cloud and adapt information management practices. These services need to help address data privacy concerns and e-Discovery practices for example.

One of The Best Industry Events I’ve Participated In…

ChairOnStageHat tip to the organizers, Stacey Cripps and Joyce Osborne, of the  ECM Professional Development Executive Forum held last week in Chicago. Both are committee members in the Chicago AIIM Chapter.

I participated on the morning panel, “ECM as a Career – Defining the Profession”, with Connie Moore from Forrester and Stuart Hubbard with Schiff Hardin. Jeetu Patel from Doculabs moderated and did a good job of keeping things moving.

One way I judge the value of events I am asked to participate in is if I learn something new. I learned a lot and found the questions from the over 100 attendees in the audience thought provoking and interesting. As panelists we strived to share our experiences and provide help and guidance for those looking to advance their careers in what I called “Information Governance”.

Stacey and Joyce did a fantastic job organizing the event by inviting interesting panelists and providing a great opportunity for the attendees to learn and network with others in the industry.

They are planning to do this next year and I encourage anyone to who is interested in advancing their Information Governance career to plan and attend.

Well done!

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Microsoft Begins to Pull The Curtain Back on Office 2010

derby hat Microsoft is beginning to talk about the features and capabilities in the upcoming new version of Office 2010.

Hat tip to Arpan Shah who has a great post with his top Office 2010 Tech Preview Features.

One of things I am working on is building a business case from the business perspective on migrating from older versions of Office to Office 2010. I know the business case is there but would love your feedback and help to start identifying business scenarios and the potential ROI from a business user perspective which would benefit from the Office 2007 and new Office 2010 features.

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AIIM Webinar: SharePoint and Your Information Infrastructure

CB107267_LoResI was the speaker for this webinar last week with AIIM and EMC. Here is the synopsis:

On the surface, implementing SharePoint as an enterprise content management solution seems simple and straightforward. After all, pop in your disk and, voila, SharePoint is installed. Yet, like every other single piece of information technology, deciding the proper role for SharePoint in your organization becomes complicated. Fast. How do you determine the role that SharePoint can play in your ECM strategy? We’re here to help.

SharePoint can, and will, play a key role in many organizations’ enterprise content management strategy. However, other than for some smaller companies, SharePoint is not an ECM infrastructure in and of itself; it needs to integrate with and be extended by other products for issues such as compliance, storage management, document imaging, etc. Discover how to leverage the capabilities of both SharePoint and ECM tools, including issues around interoperability. We’ll conclude with a look at potential return on investment.

To view the archived event click HERE. Hope you find it useful.

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