Also known as: ECM finds a home with new business sponsorship
A brisk debate has been underway for a few months (thanks to an initial post from Peter Monks and follow up by Ron Miller) about the future of a product space known as Enterprise Content Management (ECM). First off was an excellent post by Peter Monks that the definition is flat out wrong. This was followed shortly by Ron Miller’s declaration on his FierceContentManagement blog of the end of ECM as we know it after reflecting on many recent blog posts and Twitter discussions. Most of the dialog until now has centered around a few key questions:
- Is the ECM market dead?
- Do we need a new acronym?
- Are Sharepoint and Open Source taking over?
All good questions, but I think the bigger point to make here is that ECM isn’t dead – it’s finally finding new, receptive homes within the business where it adds value, rather than it being forced on them by standardization loving IT departments.
“Rock is dead they say. Long live rock” – Pete Townshend
In comments on Peter’s blog, Ian Truscott wisely notes that, in reality, ECM is being pulled apart from the marketing message as an amazing content uber-solution to one that meets the specialized needs of different asset types in more compartmentalized areas. For years, ECM software vendors have staked out age-old industry specific problems like “claims processing”, “loan origination” and “drug discovery” that have been tremendous cash cows in terms of license sales and involved automating fascinatingly complex processes that involve mountains of paperwork. Outside of these key solutions however, ECM has really been a hammer looking for a nail. The cost to procure and implement ECM far outweighed the real on-the-ground pain in most departments. This is why the Sharepoint, Cloud and Open Source threats are real.
The CMO is looking for a new solution as well
If you’re a marketer working with digital, the regular stories about the “explosive growth of content” likely no longer shock or awe you. There are more brands, more assets, more comps, more photos, more channels, more rights to manage, more royalties, more mobile, more videos, and on, and on. What this means is that the challenges around managing these hundreds of thousands of assets isn’t unique to the Fortune 50 organization any more. Brand managers increasingly are turning into traffic cops, fielding requests for assets, managing creative processes and ensuring brand compliance. And how do they manage all of this? Email.
In the past 12 months, we’ve seen a renaissance of sorts for ECM for both marketers and brand managers. You’re probably thinking “Duh, Digital Asset Management (DAM)…it’s been around for years as well”. True, but every DAM product has had critical weaknesses around their abilities to manage business processes and provide secure, easy self-service to external parties. There’s a bigger opportunity for more DAM vendors to be move beyond image resizing and metadata entry and provide the workflow, collaboration and multi-channel publishing capabilities that are increasingly being demanded by more marketing, communications and creative services departments. This is where ECM and DAM will continue to be in high demand. Whether those are the acronyms to stick with, I’m sure there will be plenty more debate.