Been a while since I posted anything. Having a new kid will do that to a person. I read an article last week that all but set me off. Luckily I didn’t have time to write it because I am going to be biting the hands that feed me, or at least ones that have been nice to me.
The article in question was published on CMSWire. When I saw the title, The Future of ECM: Looking Less and Less like SharePoint?, I was very interested. Then I started reading and nearly died.
SharePoint as “Traditional” ECM
First off, I’m going to state that SharePoint can readily be used as a Content Management System. When I compare SharePoint’s capabilities with features that I documented when I wasn’t thinking about SharePoint, it fairs well.
Is SharePoint Enterprise Content Management? Well, since no product is ECM, the answer is No. Let’s ask a fair question, Can you use SharePoint as a platform upon which to implement an ECM strategy?
That is really a matter of opinion, but there aren’t a long of strongly positive ones out there. Andrew Chapman tried to find evidence of people defending SharePoint as an ECM platform two months ago and didn’t find anything. Alan Pelz-Sharpe over at the Real Story Group took a Second Look as SharePoint as an ECM Platform and it came out as, possible but not easy.
Being positive here, let’s say that you can use SharePoint as an ECM platform if you apply yourself. This is probably only something that you could consider with MOSS 2007 sp2 as that was the first release that allowed you to store content outside the database. The release date was April 28, 2009, but we’ll give it a full two years of age.
So imagine my surprise when I read the opening paragraph in the CMSWire article that triggered this post:
The explosion of content, media and cloud computing has had an irreversible impact on consumer behavior and expectations. In an ECM context, the resulting shifts in shape and structure are the beginnings of a new environment for managing data. Unfortunately for traditional systems – cough, SharePoint, cough – this territory comes with a set of rules that may be a bit difficult to adjust to.
Take a second and read it again. Did the author just call SharePoint a traditional ECM solution? TRADITIONAL!?! Alfresco, not even founded until 2005, is a more entrenched ECM solution than SharePoint. The term is over ten years old. SharePoint is not only not old, its focus isn’t even on ECM. Content Management is just one thing that SharePoint does “well enough”. It wasn’t originally designed as a Content Management System and is architected differently from Content Management Systems that don’t live and die by managing Web content.
I almost gave up on the article at that point because I knew at that point the author didn’t know enough about Enterprise Content Management to be a credible source. After I calmed down, I kept reading. My mistake.
Today’s ECM Solution…Box???
As you have probably noticed, I like Box. I think they have a great product and are heading in the right direction. Their approach is solid and they understand where the Content Management space is heading. They have a long way to go, but their foundation is rock solid. I’d even go work for them without worrying about losing any pride or credibility.
Today’s enterprise content management solutions — Box.net, YouSendit, DropBox — have found success in combining traditional business practices with popular consumer behavior
Really? Box is ECM? Today? They don’t even have Content Types. Custom metadata is still missing and I don’t recall anything resembling lifecycles. They are a basic collaboration platform that manages content. It is Content Management almost at its most basic.
The thing is, Box is dramatically closer to being a full-fledged Content Management System than either of the other two companies. To even begin to classify any of them as ECM is as close to the ravings of a lunatic as I can imagine. Definitely 5 Jack Sparrows on the Jack Sanity Scale.
At this point, I was so frazzled I didn’t even get upset by the “term” Cloud Content Management. For the record, if Box is Cloud Content Management, then SharePoint is Windows Content Management. See, doesn’t make sense as a term. That is marketing for you.
The Point of the Article
If you really look at it, the premise is that ECM is too complex and cloud is a better place to be. Not a bad point. The comments are really interesting to read and you can clearly see everyone’s background based upon their comments. The article is essentially an ad for Box. Box isn’t as far along as the article implies and neither is the measuring stick being used.
I’m hoping that the next time the ECM term is thrown around quite so loosely that there will be a warning message: Read while sitting down away from sharp corners!