Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where does ECM go from here...

An odd week or two - separate questions asked of me by three or four unrelated (but all highly respected industry figures) that I thought worth sharing (whilst still respecting confidentiality)

Response to generic question one:

Should ECM be bundled together with Storage?

There is a relationship between ECM and Storage but it is not as close as EMC or IBM (for example) would like to imagine. ECM is about managing/controlling active content - who sees it, who doesn't, its security, its location, its attendant processes. Storage is a part of that, but only a small part. The relationship between Records Management and Storage is closer - cos here we are dealing with the long term future of particular items of business value.

The fundamental issues at a vendor level are that ECM is all about only managing the minimum you need - no redundancy/waste or duplication - this flies in the face of storage salesman's goals - sell more storage. It also conflicts as storage deals are huge in comparison to ECM deals (which in themselves are not cheap) - so the storage vendors see ECM as a feed to storage. ECM vendors see storage technology as simply another piece of infrastructure that they require - same as databases and application servers.

Answer to generic second question:

Should we continue to have a separate ECM practice within our SI firm? Or should it just be a subset of the Information Management Practice?

You should continue to separate the practices for the time being - as the worlds of structured and unstructured data remain way apart - however in time you will find the overlap's increasing and you may want to revisit that situation in a few years time.

The key drivers are now the infrastructure players IBM, Oracle and Microsoft (all big in Information Management) and arguably also EMC. If you take out EMC from the equation then you can argue that the market is being driven by the 'database' vendors. Hence they see this as repository management and content control. In larger enterprises ECM will become the repository layer in an Enterprise Architecture. But if you agree that this is likely, then by default you end up with ECM and Enterprise 2.0 or SOA (whatever we will call it then) and as such you can take your pick of BPM layer providers and Security etc etc

So I think ECM will become part of a broader information management sector, and I think that's where it belongs. In the process it becomes a little more narrow in definition terms (good case for dropping DAM, WCM, eMail Management etc) but may also take on board some new areas in the process - for example Archiving and maybe just maybe BPM (currently BPM in ECM is application specific in the main - not BPM for the enterprise).

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