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The Slippery Slope of Redefining ECM

Exploring the dangerous game analysts have played for years

Recently, industry analysts have been discussing the definition of ECM. The conversations center around the current state of enterprise content management. Is it alive, dead, being redefined, misunderstood or something else? This lack of clarity from the people we are paying as experts has serious effects on many organizations and people’s lives. Gartner, in particular, discontinued its use of ECM in lieu of content services, a new term comprised of three aspects: content services applications, platforms and components.

Imagine if for the last 10 years you have proudly worked to develop your skills to be an ECM, ARMA or XYZ practitioner. You have invested time and energy in becoming the best in whatever designation you or your organization deemed deeply important in the ECM space. Is all your training now worthless? Are the billions spent on trying to install ECM now viewed as an acceptable mistake by CIOs and IT directors around the globe? I say no! This industry has more relevant value now than ever before. Due to emerging integration standards and new technology tools, we are starting to see solutions deployed in record time. The future of ECM is bright.

The early days of ECM

Many of you reading this won’t remember the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Back then, we were calling the industry “knowledge management,” “document management” and “content management.” Analysts decided we needed to combine everything into one term called enterprise content management. The premise: There was significant overlap between the terms and companies were having difficulty making any one of them work for all of these areas. It was generally agreed in the industry that merging the functions into a single platform made sense.

The impacts of industry reclassification

As a result, software companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make their platform do everything. They were scored poorly if they didn’t meet one criteria on this big list of functionality. So they raced to the finish line and completed acquisitions, mergers, hired hundreds of developers and more to fight for the top spot. It created a market stir and money was made by everyone. Customers benefited from the vision and results of deploying ECM. Resellers benefited from helping organizations through the process of migrating to an ECM platform. The industry was, and is, moving in a positive direction.

Why ECM has a long future

Today, there are few differentiators at the top of this list. Dominant players are just that, dominant. For the consumer there’s a much easier choice. Pricing is normalizing along with expectations as the world of ECM is calming down. I could not be more excited about the future of our business and the success of our clients. We are just now starting to see the benefit of ECM with mature systems over niche applications and multiple repositories. However, now with all the talk about redefining ECM, we find ourselves about to enter uncertain times again. I say: Stay the course. LONG LIVE ECM!!!

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