Friday, March 31, 2006

Warehouses & RM


I couldn't help but take a moment out after reading an odd piece in the trade press. Dan Ryan the COO of Stellant said "Ten years ago, records management meant warehouses".

Well it still does, and will do for generations to come - so not sure quite what his point was? I am sure there was more to this comment and that maybe it has been taken out of context, but RM will always mean warehouses. It also means content repositories and databases and electronic storage, but to imagine that paper or physical object RM is going away or frankly even diminishing is to misunderstand RM altogether.

Whilst at Ovum I published a few papers on this very topic, and in truth it is something that disturbs me deeply. Should ECM vendors be getting involved with RM? By definition they must as they manage lots of content, but how deeply?

Dan Carmel of Interwoven (formerly iManage) Harald Collet at Oracle and David Gillespie of 80-20, 'get' records management and thoroughly understand the meaning of things like 'context'. But they are exceptions. Many ECM product and marketing execs still live under the impression that paper volumes are decreasing, and that the introduction of things like digital signatures means the end of manually signed documents.....

ECM vendors are at the end of the day software developers, and that is the way I have always seen it. In other words that they build impressive tookits for businesses to utilize. One of the more positive things about the move to lite ECM is that the vendors resume their rightful place, as providers of tools and functionality. Rather than trying to tell us how to run our business.

But RM despite the current high in interest is still probably the least understood of the areas that ECM has tried to embrace.

For buyers I always try to impress upon them that ECM vendors have their roots somewhere, and that is usually where they are strong. ECM is ultimately a bundling of different packages and toolsets. As new vendors enter the market this will start to change, but for now the likes of Documentum and FileNet have their roots and their strengths in document management, Interwoven and Vignette in Web Content Management etc. No amount of acquistions or technology bundling will change that. Most disturbing of all, none of the key players have their roots in RM.

Apologies to Dan, (though I suspect he has contrary view to me on the value of working with offshore resources) and on the occasions I have met him he seems like a great guy. But this article really got my back up and suspect it will do the same to anyone with roots in RM.


Link to offending article here: http://www.intranetjournal.com/articles/200603/ij_03_29_06a.html

5 comments:

russ stalters said...

Could not agree more. The paper will never go away. If anyhting, the voumes tend to go up since it is so easy to press the "Print" button.

By the way, Stellent has their technology rooted in Web content publishing.

Joe Elliott said...

Agree wholeheartedly. How this follows through is that those organisations who realise they have a need for RM really only have a choice of EDM vendors from whom to buy and as you rightly point out some of those originate in the WCM space - a long way from RM. And let's not forget that there are products whose roots are in paper and filestore management, like OmniRIM, and who are making the effort to provide links to the EDM vendors. However, all in all, not an ideal situation at present.

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Joe & Russ,
many thanks for your comments on this - I am currently working with some of the larger vendors in this space on a design of a solution that is truly comprehensive in scope.
And in terms of partnerships and solution building I am very committed to doing this with our clients. But the bigger challenge in truth is reaking the mind set of IT and some of the ECM/EDM vendors.
It is timely though to be trying to build these solutions and have these discussions as we are currently seeing a huge upswell in imaging related projects. And where there is Imaging there is hard copy - and we are pushing hard to ensure that the management of this hard copy, beyond simply scanning it, is central to the clients strategy. But frankly pitching the idea is tough.

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