Wednesday, January 25, 2006

From Compliancy to Retention

In Sept 05 80:20 Software launched their free download 'Compliance Server' for Sharepoint environments (see attached link), and for an RM related product garnered a lot of press attention. Since the launch the company claims to have had great success, much success we can't know for sure. But, anything endorsed by Microsoft and running on top of the incredibly successful Sharepoint platform probably hasn't done too badly.

What for me is particularly significant in this new release is.....the name change. It has gone from being a 'Compliancy Server' to a 'Retention Server'. On one hand this is little more than marketing babble, but I suspect it is a reflection of a much greater market shift that many of us seem to be observing. Namely, that many buyers just can't get their head around compliancy as a business or technical issue, it is simply too nebulous a term to fully grasp. Tthe term record management clearly sends people to sleep, but that 'Retention' is easily understood and embraced by many.

Retention rightly suggests, wrapping some lifecycle protocols around various chunks of content, detailing what should be kept, for how long, and when to dispose and destroy. All activities that underpin basic data governance and good management processes.

Retention is also arguably a more accurate description for many of the so-called 'Compliancy' software offerings currently available. For in fact 'compliancy' tools typically just provide pre-defined retention schedules against specific sets of data. They can be a component of Record Management activities, and can be a support to adhering to regulations, but they are not tools that can actually may you ‘compliant’. To do that would require a culture of compliancy, a deep understanding of your obligations to relevant regulations, and clear and clearly followed procedures.

So I continue to watch this particular movement (free CM related software with interest), this particular launch hasn't had as much fanfare as the Alfresco launch, but all this along with Oracle & Microsofts determined drives into the sector, all suggests we are starting to see a major shift in the sector. We are starting to see buyers and users shape the market by their demands, ‘Retention’ over complex ‘Record Management’, simple DM for everyone, rather than over engineered ECM on the desktop etc. Large Enterprises will continue to commit wholesale to the likes of Documentum & FileNet, but the market is changing, and it will likely be unrecognizable in five to ten years time.

Frankly I hope it is unrecognizable, and that we see CM, ECM & RM truly cross the chasm and become embedded in all and any content related activities.

I intend to work this and some of the other thoughts in recent posts into a more substantial (and hopefully more coherent!) article for CMS Watch over the next week or so. I will post a link when its published.


russ stalters said...


Nice job with your blog. I will have to stop by regularly.

I agree with your assessment that the defintion of compliance is rather squishy and that there is growing misunderstanding regarding what it really means.

When I talk about compliance my definintion includes both how unstructured content is managed (lifecycle, security, and auditability) as well as business process. Compliance really refers to act of adhering to some regulation or law.

Business process becomes an important dimension when talking about how the content is created, consumed or used, and manged.

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Many thanks for the compliments!

I agree totally about the business process element. Frankly though I find the term 'business process' even more muddled than 'compliancy'.

Yet that is really what this blog is about - understanding better how at a business level we interact and make use of technology.

Until we understand the underlying business dynamics (or at least try to understand) them little progress can be made in deploying or better utilising information technology.

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