Billy Cripe on ECM and SOA


I had two thoughts competing for my next topic. It being late in the day, I decided to pick the one that would be the easiest to write as all I had to do was read an article by someone with whom I typically agree and compose a simple post.

I chose poorly…

Billy Cripe has just had an article published in the May/June edition of AIIM E-DOC. I was excited. I usually see one or two articles in each issue that catch my interest, but I am always underwhelmed by the content. I wasn’t this time, I was just disappointed.

It All Falls Apart

I want to start with the simple disclaimer. I respect Billy and I firmly believe that we have the same vision of ECM 2.0 and where it is going. He always has seemed to have a firm grasp on all the relevant technologies. That didn’t really change after reading his article. I am disappointed in the way he delivered the message.

I think the best way to sum-up my thoughts on the article was that after the introductory paragraph, I wanted to yell BINGO! (though I love SOA-izing) to all of my fellow commuters. I got the impression that Billy was trying to cram too much material into too short an article. It felt rushed.

Let’s dive into the content now shall we?

Web 2.0 Gone Wild

Instead of focusing on SOA and ECM, Billy focuses on Web 2.0. Actually, he says he is talking about Web 2.0, repeatedly, but he is actually talking about Enterprise 2.0 for most of the article. That drove me nuts. To be fair, many readers may not know Enterprise 2.0 well, but it was up to Billy to address that early in the article. AIIM has been trying to embrace Enterprise 2.0, which makes great sense, and this was an opportunity for Billy to link it together.

In the concluding section, Billy says Web 2.0 in the enterprise, or enterprise 2.0 if you will. This would have been a great line at the beginning of the article. In a sidebar Billy does define Enterprise 2.0, and I liked it:

Enterprise 2.0 can then be defined as bringing Web 2.0 expectations, technologies, and design approaches to bear on processes, applications, and employees in a managed environment across a business.

Great. When taken in conjunction with the rest of the sidebar, I think it safely lays the foundation for the rest of the article to be framed as a discussion around Enterprise 2.0. Web 2.0 is not Enterprise 2.0 and I’m afraid that some of the readers may get that impression.

Web 2.0 vs Enterprise 2.0 vs SOA

The one thing I did disagree with Billy upon was some of the dependencies that he laid out for some of the technologies. ECM has to work in an SOA environment have to work together independent of the whole Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 world. Storing Content in an ECM system so that it can be accessed in a CRM system or SharePoint is a great idea that is facilitated by a SOA environment.

On the other hand, you can have Enterprise 2.0-style solutions in environments that utilize no SOA technologies. Let’s face it. If every organization waited to have a Service-Oriented Architecture before implementing Enterprise 2.0 technologies and solutions, then Enterprise 2.0 isn’t going anywhere. There are lots of platforms out there that can assist in delivering an Enterprise 2.0 environment that can stand-alone or integrate into an ECM system.

Yes, ECM and SOA make Enterprise 2.0 better, but in no-way are they required.

Final Warning

In the article, Billy says, the risk of adoption is less than for brand new technology. I disagree. The technology may be more proven, but there is a lot of organizational change required. I would even argue that as Enterprise is a new way of doing business that the mind set change is much more dramatic than implementing a CRM or ECM system.

Enterprise 2.0 isn’t just a new way to do a job, but a new way to think. It changes the job description, not just the execution of the job. This change isn’t easy. It can’t be rushed. Throwing it all at an organization at once could backfire. It depends on the technological maturity of the organization.

The maturity isn’t based upon what applications are running behind the firewall. It all boils down to the exposure that the people have had to technology in general. If an person doesn’t use the technologies in the Internet, having them see the benefits in the Enterprise is difficult.

I’m not saying that it isn’t worth it. I’m just saying that it is just as risky as any technology deployment. It just needs a deeper focus on the Organizational Change Management to make it work.

3 thoughts on “Billy Cripe on ECM and SOA

  1. Jazz says:

    Billie, I’ve come across your blog for the first time and I thoroughly despair when I read people like you. Reading this type of post makes me want to abandon computing and take up plumbing! Only in computing can anyone wake up, suddenly become an expert, have a blog and start spouting all sorts of strangeness. Have you ever come across the word architecture? Have you heard the words separation of concerns? If you have, then you probably can understand that a “service”, “component”, “application” (call it whatever pleases you) can have many “clients” or “presentations”, which incidentally, may or may not be human. If you can grasp this concept, then you will understand that SOA is an architecture paradigm that is used to build distributed systems that may or may not contain a presentation layer. When you fatuously differentiate between Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0 and SOA, do you realise that you are trying to say something to do something akin to differentiating between the architectural plans for a building (SOA) and a new technology for doors and windows (Web 2.0, etc). SOA is an architectural style. It isn’t incompatible with W2.0 or E2.0!!!

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  2. Jazz, I assume you are not addressing the article written by Billy, but this post written by myself. It does make me wonder how closely you actually read the post, much less the article to which it is responding.

    You say, SOA is an architectural style. It isn’t incompatible with W2.0 or E2.0!!! I never say that it is incompatible. My point, which you missed, is that SOA and E2.0 are not dependent on each other. You can have one without the other. At no time did I say that you couldn’t have both in the same environment.

    My despair is from those that feel they know more than anyone else and run around the web trying to prove it.

    -Pie

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  3. Your comments on this article fit my disappointment well. I am not yet at the door of the Enterprise 2.0 paradigm shift, I am still trying to develop ECM solutions with a strong Service Oriented Architecture. There seems very little discussion of the SOAizing of ECM in the blogosphere. My own meager attempt (http://edlovesjava.blogspot.com) tries to describe how my company is developing ECM-SOA. Enterprise 2.0 is still a bit out of our reach. Let me know if you find any other good articles/blogs on ECM-SOA.

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