Information Governance, Moving on from Content


Has Content build holding us prisoner, making us miss the bigger picture?When I dove into the debate on Content Services and ECM, my conclusion was fairly straightforward.

Look at your information flow. Follow it and find new ways to make it flow faster. If you can do that and know where your information is at anytime, you are done.

There is a lot of detail buried under that relatively straightforward statement. Content Services is part of a broader trend in the content management space and is here to stay. It has been here since CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) entered the picture almost a decade ago but now people are seeing it as more than a way to integrate systems.

The problem is that ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is still just part of the picture. Even if we use the latest tools without regard to the latest buzz words that define them. If we just focus on the content we are failing to solve what needs to be solved.

Information First

Here’s the deal. Content never stands alone. Yes it has metadata but there are entities that need to be managed that may not have content. Consider:

  • Process Documents: Think of an invoice. It comes into the organization and follows a very defined process. This is the foundation for the entire industry. The process may start before any content is created.
  • Case Documents: While the fervor has died down, case management still matters. Many things are a collection of documents and the information about the collection, and the ad-hoc nature of the work, still matters.
  • Collaborative Content: Most of this content could be shoe-horned into case management but nobody doing the work thinks of it that way. Projects and teams use content in multiple ways to achieve an evolving goal. Having a place to go and work towards that goal, along with all the related information, is important.
  • Digital Assets: Digital assets can be part of any of the previous three instances. The difference is that digital assets have a lot of special requirements around licensing, source, and usage (to name a few) that adds a layer of complexity.

A lot of this content crosses streams. A contract is part of a sale, collaboratively worked on by multiple parties, subject to process review, and needed in a workspace for the team delivering what was promised in the contract. Building one system to serve all of those needs is complex. Have a Contract Management System is useful to address the legal requirements but then the content needs to be served to the other locations.

You aren’t going to have only one solution to this unless you ignore the problems and force the technology. That will leave you with strong systems that serves the IT department, not the people who need a solution.

In each context, there is more information related to the piece of content. Sometimes it is a collection of documents. The result is that when it is time to manage the content, we need to manage the entire context. We need to manage the information.

We need Information Governance

ECM is one aspect of Information Governance. If you can’t manage content, you can’t manage the context that it lives within. You can’t apply different rules to the same information just because it lives in a database instead of a declared record.

When we manage items, we need to manage the entire context. We need to be able to reach into the database and the CMS (Content Management System) in order to manage things as a coherent whole.

Of course this is tricky. Databases aren’t designed to be managed like formal records. Data sets are managed. Content and data have evolved along parallel, yet different, paths to handling governance.

Sometimes you need to destroy in order to do what is rightConclusion

Of course, you can’t buy Information Governance anymore than we’ve been able to buy ECM. It is a strategy and an approach, just on a more comprehensive scale. You are still setting priorities. You are still making sure you know where everything lives.

And you are still creating an ECM strategy to handle content. ECM should just live within the larger context of Information Governance.

Giving the different paradigms behind how the underlying CMSs and databases tackle governance, there is going to be some assessing and planning required. Taking a bigger picture view, and implementing it, is going to take a lot of work.

Perhaps a transformation…

Revisiting the Content Management Frontier


Scene from the movie Alive, dead bodies in the snowTwo years ago, a journal was discovered while excavating in the Trough of Disillusionment of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies. The journal told a story of fear, distrust, and desperation.

Today another tome was discovered. Written hastily in the margins of an IDOL manual was the following text. It is estimated that this was written two days after the conclusion of the previously discovered journal (which you should read 1st). The author is unknown.

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Content Management, Platforms or Solutions?


Pendulum about to cut a man in half in the movie "Pit and the Pendulum"The Content Management industry is rife with contradictions. The biggest of which is that the business just wants solutions to their problems while IT wants a common platform from an established player to make integrations and upgrades less risky.

I’m not sure how we solve this problem and I am tired of watching the pendulum swing back and forth.

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Dell, EMC, and Poor Documentum


Even with our fights, I never wanted it to come to thisI haven’t blogged in a while for various reasons that I won’t get into in this post but recent news demands that I share some thoughts. It seems that barring a better offer, Dell is going to buy EMC for a LOT of money.

Now the numbers don’t really matter to me as I don’t hold stock in any of the players except perhaps in some retirement mutual fund to which I never really pay attention. What I care about is the fate of the Enterprise Content Division (ECD), the home of Documentum.

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Reports from the Content Management Frontier


The following are excerpts from an explorer hiking the Gartner Hype Cycle for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies.

Day 1, Reached the Peak

Today we finally reached the Peak of Inflated Expectations. The view is simply amazing. This technology is going to revolutionize everything. Everyone is excited and  teaming up with their friends. Documentum just got some great new equipment from EMC. I suspect that those two will be very happy together for a long time.

Life is good.

Day 2, Getting Crowded

Apparently everyone is excited and more and more people are joining us on the Peak. While the view is still lovely, they ground is starting to get muddy from all the people trampling everywhere.

Stellent showed up with their new pal Oracle. Everyone thinks they are a bunch of posers but they are mostly keeping quiet because Oracle has a bit of a temper.

There seems to be a new noise. I’m going to go check it out.

Day 4, Ooops

That noise from the other day? That was the beginning of an avalanche that carried the entire group off of the Peak. According to our maps we are in the Trough of Disillusionment. It is hard to validate because nobody can get a clear signal anymore. It is a bit gloomy but some people seem to think we can get out.

OMG! Open Text ate Hummingbird while we were sleeping! They must be panicking already.

Tensions are very high.

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Box and Dropbox Race for Long-Term Relevancy


The Spanish InquisitionIn case you missed it, Dropbox has followed the path blazed by Box and has integrated with Microsoft Office. While Box integrated on the desktop, Dropbox is integrating with the Office mobile apps and plans to extend it to the Online Office versions. This is a no-brainer move as anything that simplifies people’s ability to work with content within Dropbox helps keep people using both tools.

On top of all this, Microsoft announced that their Android and iOS versions of Office will now be free. Microsoft is clearly trying to maintain their edge on the office productivity world and Dropbox is aiming to stay in front of people’s eyeballs.

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EMC’s Faulty Perception of Content Management


How I Met Your Mother Spit TakeWhile at the Monktoberfest last week, I had the luck to run into some people from EMC.  Not just any folk from EMC, they were from “core”, the storage side of the business. After convincing them that I knew enough about EMC to have a real conversation, we discussed Documentum and the Information Intelligence Group (IIG) where Documentum sits.

The talk quickly turned to why Documentum did not live up to the potential they had when EMC acquired them. While I have many opinions, I thought I’d get their opinion. It was a little surprising.

They didn’t adopt Virtual fast enough.

There have been a lot of missteps over the years, but that wasn’t one of them. I was selling Documentum during the rise of VMWare and I can state this for a fact, I NEVER lost a deal because Documentum didn’t support virtual machines.

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