By John Mancini, AIIM Chief Evangelist

Organizations have long struggled with the magic “triad” of people, processes and technology. This struggle has remained constant through multiple generation of technology – from paper to microfilm to imaging to document management to enterprise content management.

In order to understand what is coming next for content management, we need a clear understanding of where we’ve been.

Document Management & Workflow Circa 1995 Enterprise Content Management Circa 2005 Mobile and Cloud Content Management Circa 2015
People Solutions are difficult to use and require lots of training, but it does not matter because the people who use these systems are records and document specialists. Focus shifts from ECM “specialists” to knowledge workers, but usability still not a top priority. Usability becomes everything. Lines blur between home and the office. Even individual users can implement their own solutions.
Processes Focus is on automating content intensive, complicated, mission-critical processes; solutions confined to departments at large Fortune 500 organizations. ECM believes it’s an enterprise layer, but is often still driven by departments. Silos explode. ECM reaches into more organizations, but still basically a large organization game. Process owners can implement their own solutions. Business processes must be “appified.” “Good enough” content management solutions emerge for the SME market.
Technology Complex, custom and expensive implementations purchased by business buyers. No standard document body of knowledge exists. Rise – and then decline – of the “suites,” and focus shifts to the technology buyer. SharePoint disrupts the traditional ECM market. Configuration, connection and mobile skills become key. Awareness grows that perimeter-based security no longer sufficient. File sync and share and cloud solutions disrupt the market and organizations struggle with the drag of legacy systems.

As a result, most organizations at scale now have multiple generations of content technologies in place – and all of the multiple repositories that go along with this. Even if the term “ECM” ultimately moves to the background, the need for “ECM” capabilities is not going away — organizations still have a need to automate core back-end, document-intensive processes, and many have yet to do so.  In addition, organizations that have already implemented these solutions are not about to cavalierly rip them out. So the challenge for end-user organizations is to understand the new opportunities afforded by looking at content challenges through a new “lens” and build strategies that connect these opportunities to their existing core back-end ECM systems.

Organizations now face these core challenges at the intersection of people, processes, and technology:

  • How do we adapt these systems to the coming wave of massive data?
  • How do we understand and utilize what is in these systems to solve the next generation of problems?
  • How do we strategically migrate from legacy content systems to more modern ones – and still keep the lights on?
  • How do we give our employees and associates the tools – and information – they need to delight their customers?

Creating a strategy to federate access to content and information – a content abstraction tier if you will — is central to this journey. Without it, organizations will continue to wander in the wilderness of multiple and inconsistent repositories, frustrated at their ability to optimize the vast quantities of information under their control.

Three Challenges to Consider When Moving Beyond ECM