Friday, November 16, 2012

Emergence of intelligent content platforms

I have been researching, writing and advising on the topic of ECM for well over 20 years, I have been called a cynic on many occasions (sometimes even to my face) and it is true that I am often dismissive of hot new trends in the marketplace. In my defense though most hot new trends are rehashed old trends under a different banner. They didn't work first time round and have no more chance this time. But over the past year or so a couple of overlapping trends have started to make a really deep and lasting impression on me. The first of these is the importance of Social technologies. On the one hand it is fair to argue that the hype surrounding enterprise Social is ridiculously overblown. There are very few firms that can really build a measurable or worthwhile business case to implement Social technologies. The reason for this is that the terms social and collaboration have become conflated, and are often used interchangeably. They are very different things, for collaboration by definition means that you work together to reach a common goal (writing a report, building a house, settling a legal matter). Whereas social is an activity without a defined end goal, the hope is that something unexpected (yet of value) will emerge from social interactions. What this means in practical terms is that some businesses are interested in investing in collaboration tools that support team and project based working. Why wouldn't they be, after all it helps them become more efficient and fulfill the perennial aim of doing more with less. Social though is a much tougher sell as few people really see the benefits here, how many really want to see a twitter like stream that relates to our colleagues activities?  In fact social technologies generate an awful lot of noise (awful being the operative word), but ironically it is here that the value lies. All that noise/data can be analyzed, processed and ultimately utilized to automate decisions and recommendations. It's early days, but that is where this is all heading. Marry this with sudden arrival of cloud based file sharing and sync services, and we have the emergence of a new and important computing/working environment. Don't be too quick to dismiss the "consumerization" of IT, or systems such as Box, Skydox, Accellion or Citrix ShareFile, in my opinion what they represent now is only the start. For combine what they do today, with the analytical capabilities they will possess in the future (and they all will), and we have the ability to easily build powerful content centric applications, that in turn leverage the promise of intelligent analytics and big data. That's game changing by any standards.

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