Thursday, October 04, 2007
Is ECM a big fat failure?
It seems like it's time for a rant - everything I post on CMS Watch regarding my work and research into ECM has recently been negative. For some reason - maybe it's the long summer - the solitude - who know's, but I just took a few mins out to analyse what's wrong. Specifically what is wrong with me - why am I so negative about ECM - and frankly what's is going wrong with this industry?
At the end of the day - I think it is simply that the ECM industry has lost it's sense of purpose - we/I can spend all our time plotting the moves and tribulations of the vendors - but ECM is not about vendors - it's about resolving serious business problems - problems that affect nearly every organization. The technology is important yes - but you don't do ECM for ECM's sake, you do it because you are facing a freaking information management nightmare. You can't find anything, your out of compliance, people are accessing incorrect information, you are duplicating tasks and efforts etc etc
Sure, the vendor industry is changing - we have the emergence of true Enterprise ready ECM on the horizon - we have a myriad of niche specialists - blah blah blah - the trouble is (and it's not the vendors fault) businesses and those that advise them just don't have a passion for this stuff.
The idea of bringing order to electronic filing, or routing the right document to the right person every time - is dull. So much more exciting to re-architect your IT system, or debate the need to go the SaaS route - or dream of infinite combinations of web services that can magically construct themselves into business services dynamically.
I am a passionate foodie - I love to cook, eat and even read about food (despite my svelte figure!) - and sure every cook loves to watch the souffle rise, the golden crusts form etc - but if your kitchen is filthy, and your fridge and cuboards unusable - you ain't cooking nothing..
Information management is no different - the dull stuff is vital to success.
But ECM is not just dull stuff - it is a toolset for business change - Information Management in conjunction with BPM and Web Services may well constitute the most powerful set of technologies for business change since the emergence of ERP. For companies looking to move to the next stage of efficiency and move ahead of their competitors no more powerful combination of tools is available.
Yet here is the rub of it - the tools and technologies are very advanced and most work well (though there is always progress to be made) - but very few organizations or consultant's have the skills to use them. They are though exactly the same consulting skills we used in the BPR revolution of the late 80's & 90's - the people who wielded those skills are now the Senior Partners at the consulting firms - where is there passion - why are they not driving the momentum for change?
In a world that is struggling to deal with globalization, outsourcing, impending recession, weaker skill set's, IT bloat and increased apathy in general - many firms are in dire need of organizational change. New models need to emerge quickly - skills need to be honed, experiments undertaken. When that happens, ECM should be in the forefront of the technologies supporting that change.
The ECM industry cannot bring about that change, but it can certainly make an effort to help.....
I promise to do my little bit - through the ECM Suites Report - and by presenting and writing publicly with passion - not resignation.
I will be at Documation in London in a couple of weeks time - be sure to come and kick my butt if I fail to deliver
Steam vented - normal level of frustration and anger resumed.