ECM Institute
As professionals, we are always on the lookout for new resources to provide us valuable information about content management. But where do we look? Just about everywhere actually. Fortunately for us, a new URL crossed our path that might be the answer to all our prayers: ECMHUB. The ECMINSTITUTE is a professional association of content management professionals. The ECMHUB, a portal focused on enterprise content management and knowledge management, is the ECMINSTITUTE's website. Version 2 of the website, or portal, was launched early last month. The website is made up of over 40 industry specific communities and over 5,000 article feeds coming in daily including blogs, videos, events, webcasts and RFPs. Ray Chance, the Executive Director of the ECMINSTITUTE, sent us an email calling the ECMHUB "the single most significant resource for ECM & KM Professionals". Hmmm... that a pretty big claim to stand up to.
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ECMHUB Home Page

The ECMHUB is a social networking site that appears to be designed to assist you with solving problems related to content management. It does this in several ways: * Communities: Select a community from the tag cloud and view a number of feeds on the topic, including blogs, news, events, questions, challenges, videos, and wikipedia information and Google knols on the community topic. * Web Conferencing: Host open Web Conferences to present a product or service. The web conferencing features include free built-in 3D Chat, video and audio conferencing, whiteboarding and screensharing. * Ask for Help: A Seeker section gives you the ability to request assistance on a problem or issue a solution challenge * Provide Help: A Solver section provides a list of professional who have offered their knowledge to help others. A person listed as a solver also gets qualified leads for their own company.
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ECMHUB Community

Requesting Assistance -- Seekers This feature is very interesting. You can request assistance with a particular problem or need that you have in one of three ways: * Peer Review: Ask for specific feedback from industry experts * Question: Informal request for a peer review to which you will get an "Answer" -- the results of the review * Challenge: A formal request for assistance with a problem or other need. The challenge may include problem identification, analysis, solution, response and proposals (RFPs). There are several Quick Challenges already defined: SharePoint, Enterprise Search selection, Web CMS and Enterprise CMS. Quick challenges utilize the collective intelligence of the Solvers, providing the Seeker with a "buyer's guide" for a technology or a solution guide to their problem. It can also include issuing a RFP request from Solvers.

Membership

Access to the website is free if all you want to do is view the communities. If you want to participate, then you have to purchase a membership. There are five different membership options for ECMHUB, each providing a few more features and costing a lot more money. The first level is called Basic and it provides the following features (which are present in all membership levels): * Add personal comments and ratings to feed posts * Post community news, blogs, events etc. * Host unlimited on demand web meetings * Attend scheduled web meetings * Lead ECMINSTITUTE sponsored events Basic will cost you a one time US$ 20 donation. In addition, all membership levels have a 30 day money back guarantee if you aren't satisfied. To get the full features of the ECMHUB, you will need to purchase at a minimum, a Professional level membership. Additional benefits include the ability to participate in Challenges, post your Contact Info in the Solvers Section and request a challenge analysis (only one though). All this comes at the cost of US$ 400 per year. The last two levels are Professional Corporate (US$ 1000 per year) and Professional Gold (US$ 5000 per year). Both contain the benefits of Professional plus a few other things including email notifications, priority listings, private web conferencing and advertising discounts -- depending on which of the two levels you select.

Powered by Google

The ECMHUB is built on the Google AppEngine. As such it leverages some other capabilities that Google provides including the Google Login, Google Checkout (for membership registration) and Google Lively (3D Chat). The website also includes the ability to search Google Knols for relevant content and view YouTube videos. A Google Knol widget is included in each cloud community. The website is a single webpage utilizing AJAX to change the content as required. The site works well for the most part, but there are still a few bugs to work out. For example, when an event was selected, information on it popped up in a window on top of the site. But we couldn't figure out how to close that pop-up and get back to the underlying website.

Overall View of the ECMHUB

Overall, it's an interesting website. The communities are okay, but it seems like you have to spend a lot of time looking for relevant information. Clicking a link in any of the community sections is where you start seeing bugs. One link for a question sent us directly to Yahoo Answers and away from ECMHUB altogether. Might not be a bug, but it feels like it. The true benefit of this website may be in becoming a Seeker or a Solver. For a Solver, the benefits include recognition of your capabilities and potential leads for sales of your product or service. For a Seeker, you can get access to qualified industry professionals -- assuming the process to designate someone who applies to be a Solver is fairly rigid -- for a fraction of the cost of outsourcing. ECMHUB still feels like a site in development. It may have potential, but it's not where many people may need it to be. If you use it, let us know what you think. Otherwise, we'll keep an eye on it as it grows and improves.