The Future of Content Management
About a week ago, Julian Wraith asked the ECM world what they thought the future of Content Management was. He then said that he was going on vacation and would check back in a week. So like all good techies, I waited until the end of the week before even starting on the task. I did want to answer because I felt my ECM Definition needs a vision to where I see ECM taking us.
Before I dive into the topic, I wanted to frame my answer. I am backing off the term ECM 2.0. As I think on it, the “2.0″ is over-used, and doesn’t really apply directly to ECM. ECM may support and be an important part of an Enterprise 2.0 system, but that can be achieved with old tech. I am still ECM focused and see it changing, but slapping a version number is not the way to indicate the evolution of ECM.
The last thing about this future state is that it will not be here tomorrow. It is a future that is years away. Some organizations may be there soon on a small scale, but the full-scale vision is a world where we are all there. So without further ado…
The Future of Content Management is…
…Omnipresent Content Management. It is going to be everywhere, managing everything. It will be transparent to the population (everyone will be an end-user), but omnipresent. It will start to be realized as a large number of silos interconnected. Over time, a loooooooooong time, they will all disappear. There are a few steps to get there…
- Get ECM Systems Everywhere: All content must be managed somewhere. They don’t have to talk, but every system that creates content puts it into an ECM system.
- Link ECM Systems Everywhere: This is getting all the systems to talk to each other. For this to happen, we need standards to be implemented and supported. CMIS is a great start. To add onto it, Identity Management needs to be in place to manage the Authentication and Authorization everywhere.
- Merge ECM Systems Everywhere: You are no longer dealing with Federated systems, you are dealing with one system. CMIS isn’t used as a method to have repositories talk to each other, because there is only one repository.
It is a long journey. We are just getting to the point where step 2 will be possible in the next few years. Even then, not everyone will be finished with step 1. As for the final step, there will probably always be organizations that insist on firewalled information.
How it Works
Let me throw out an example. I’m at work and a colleague, let’s call her Sarah, asks me to write a quick little proposal for doing some work at Global Dynamics. No problem. I grab a previous proposal and start adapting it to the needs at hand. When I am done, I tag the document and define the level of sharing. I give Sarah full access. I then tell Sarah that I am done and that she has full access.
Sarah then grabs the document. I didn’t send a link or tell her where it was. She just looks for tags with our names and Global Dynamics and grabs the newest thing. She makes changes and then tells Global Dynamics that it is ready after she expands the sharing. She could send a link as a courtesy, but it isn’t required. Her contact gets the message that it is ready to review, but they happen to be home. They stroll to their entertainment center and pull the document up on the screen to give it a quick read. They approve it and leave for a run.
Okay, this is advanced and end-state, but we are getting there slowly. There are several components that we need.
- Omnipresent Storage: This is the cloud in an evolved state. Nobody thinks about storage, except the storage guys. It comes with your Internet access. It isn’t owned by your provider, they just collect the fees to pay the overhead. It is accessible everywhere. There may be some government operations that lock their stuff down behind firewalls and use their own system, but that is their choice.
- Omnipresent Identity Management: Everyone has an id that can be verified through a number of different biometrics. Your id has tags. Your id is tagged with your Name. If you are employed, your id may have your company name as a tag, and maybe your client. There are no limit to organizational tags, but you cannot add them to yourself, you can only remove them. The organizations can add/remove their tag from you. You can block a specific tag so you aren’t repeatedly tagged falsely. You can add personal tags and a description to your id to help define yourself and to allow people to find you.
- Omnipresent Tagging: Content is written and tagged. Document names are converted into a list of tags. Anyone can tag any piece of content that they can access to read. A tagging “scheme” could be applied that further tags the content for use. There is also a separate list of tags related to security. You don’t delete content either. You just remove id tags from the ability to edit content. Once everyone, including the “owner” no longer is tagged with that right, the content is removed.
This won’t happen overnight, but maybe before I retire…
A Few Thoughts on the Word Omnipresent
I wanted to pick a word that conveyed my meaning without being already in use. I liked Universal, but so did Oracle a few years back. Pervasive felt right, but it sounds too invasive, and I see the future as transparent for ECM. Ubiquitous is a good term, but I leaned away for the same reason as Universal.
Omnipresent Content Management conveys the future beyond Enterprise Content Management without infringing on anyone’s copyright.
What do you think?