For several months, I’ve been tinkering with an idea in my head. I’ve watched as EMC and other large ECM vendors fell further behind in the WCM space. For every advancement that has been made, there were losses to the market. It is at the point that if you aren’t deploying massive websites to server farms, you wouldn’t even look at the larger vendors.
And yet, nothing changes. The large vendors keep taking one step for every two that the market makes. I think there will be a change, and CMS Watch, in their excellent 2010 Predictions, made a prediction similar to my thought process:
1) Enterprise Content Management and Document Management will go their separate ways
When you read the description, it is clear that they are seeing the same things, but they appear to be throwing the emphasis in the wrong direction.
Separating WCM from ECM
If you’ve read my definition of ECM, or AIIM’s definition for that matter, you’ll notice that the focus is on the content and the business problems, but not on the specific technology. There is no mention of Web Content Management, Collaboration, or any of the actual business solutions specifically.
Enter Gartner. In their latest MQ, they define ECM as having six core components: Document Management, Document Imaging, Records Management, Workflow, WCM, and Document-Centric Collaboration .
I think that if an ECM vendor has the right tools in the platform, they can skip the WCM-specific offering and allow WCM systems to access the functionality through either CMIS or their vendor specific interface. Let open source vendors, or smaller vendors with shorter release cycles, try and keep-up with the web technology.
What Do We Need From an ECM Platform?
So, if we turn our attention away from the business solutions to what we need to support the building of those business solutions, what are we left with for the platform? Without trying to ask for too much, here is a quick list…
- Scale: Big or small, it just has to work for whatever volume of content I have.
- Security: This is both Authentication and Authorization. There doesn’t have to be Identity Management built-in, but it needs to work well with Identity Management solutions.
- Native Content Handling: Needs to be able to recognize XML, email, HTML, images, and other formats and treat them accordingly. For example, if it is an email, extra metadata will be captured and stored. Content transformations fall under here.
- Records Management: While not necessarily requiring full-blown DoD 5015.2 certification, retention, holds, and other core RM concepts are important.
- Interoperability: This is now CMIS support as well as documented API and SOA-based interfaces to provide deep functional support.
- Workflow: This can be as big as full-fledge BPM, but the ability to model the lifecycle of content and the processes that govern their life is important. This means decision points, parallel flows, and loops, not just simple approval processes.
- Basic Content Services: Versioning and all that other fun stuff that we take for granted.
This is not all-inclusive, but you get the point. These components allow applications like Collaboration and WCM to work.
A New Prediction..
I would like to offer a modified version of the CMS Watch prediction…
Enterprise Content Management and WCM will go their separate ways.
Okay, that isn’t going to happen, but it NEEDS to happen. Why? Because it is distracting them from their core, which is the platform and their core applications.
I’ll take this concept and apply it to EMC’s product strategy to illustrate, but that is a separate post.