By now, everyone in the content space has likely seen, read, or heard Gartner’s pronouncement about “ECM.”

Gartner: “ECM is now dead (kaput, finite, an ex-market name), at least in how Gartner defines the market. It’s been replaced by the term Content Services.”

Of course, in the end analysis, “Content Services” is just another label. And for most end users, fancy industry marketing labels are great for short-hand communication, but the real challenge is content management as a verb rather than a noun.

“Retiring” the “ECM noun” doesn’t mean the need for ECM capabilities goes away, nor does it mean that everyone should run out and rip out all of those mission-critical ECM systems.  But it DOES mean that “ECM” is an insufficient term to describe all of the “content-y” things people are doing, how they are approaching them, and all the different flavors of content solutions that exist to solve very different problems.  What organizations are doing with content has outgrown the traditional definitions.

I think we need to re-think the term “ECM.” I’ve been saying this for a number of years — see for example our report from back in March 2015 –  Content Management 2020: Thinking Beyond ECM.

For years, we at AIIM have described ECM as:

“Neither a single technology nor a methodology nor a process, it is a dynamic combination of strategies, methods, and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver information supporting key organizational processes through its entire lifecycle.”

This Capture-Manage-Store-Preserve-Deliver continuum (which many of our training students can likely recite by memory) is probably not a bad core structure as we think about the future.

But the problem is the frame — as ECM has come to be viewed — is wrong and too narrow.

The role we expect content and information management to play in our organizations is clearly more than “ECM” (especially in its more traditional transaction-centric and records-centric definition), and it is clearly more than “Content Services.”  And neither of these labels will be sufficient to describe the issues and strategies that organizations will face as the above content management “species” are further morphed by the coming tidal wave of big data and analytics.

I think the best label to describe all of this moving forward is “Intelligent Information Management.”

Intelligent Information Management =

Create -> Capture -> Automate -> Deliver -> Preserve -> Analyze

Three Challenges to Consider When Moving Beyond ECM