Previously, I spent some time prognosticating about three broad Enterprise Information Management (EIM) trends that I think will be important for the balance of 2011, given how I’ve seen them develop over the last 12 months:

  • Good enough solutions and approaches -- the decline of best practices
  • Business pull instead of IT push -- the decline of IT-centric ECM deployments/platforms
  • Vertical orientation -- the decline of broad platforms or generic ECM stack capabilities

In this post, I want to look at where EIM is headed in the rest of 2011 from a marketplace perspective, i.e., the significant shift I’m seeing lately in the kinds of organizations getting involved in EIM.

Expanding Industries

The biggest trend I see is that EIM is expanding beyond financial services, banking, insurance, pharma and government, and reaching organizations in industries not traditionally involved in content management.

We’ve already seen a significant uptick in activity within atypical EIM industries such as CPG, oil and gas, and materials and manufacturing, and it’s showing no signs of stopping. The rest of 2011 should bring increased EIM activity in these (and other) atypical EIM industries.

To my mind, there are two main reasons for this industry expansion:

  • Organizations in these atypical EIM industries are only now beginning to pass the electronically stored information (ESI) tipping point, i.e., the point at which they are unable to effectively manage the ESI on their shared drives, hard drives, email, SharePoint and other systems. Firms in financial services, banking, insurance, pharma, etc., reached this point years ago and have already sunk big bucks trying to solve it.
  • Social media and social business software are transforming how customers, partners and employees expect organizations to do business, and doing business in these new ways creates new kinds of content and presents new kinds of EIM challenges (and exacerbates some old ones as well).

The Little Guy

We’re also seeing an increased appetite among smaller organizations (less than $1B in revenue, fewer than 2,000 employees) for tackling EIM.

This is due in part to the two factors we saw above (ESI threshold and increase in social content), but there are also other factors distinctive to smaller organizations in play:

  • SharePoint -- unlike traditional content management platforms, it holds out the promise of “ECM for the masses,” which resonates with these organizations.
  • Social business software -- these emerging tools are a good fit for the collaboration, knowledge management and light document management needs of smaller organizations.
  • SaaS and cloud offerings -- these have stepped in to fill a gap that traditional ECM software sales organizations have left open; the promise of delivering low-cost content management solutions rapidly and with little implementation overhead is attractive to smaller firms.

The Final Word

Ultimately, the expansion of EIM into new markets and out to a wider demographic of firms is going to have a profound impact not only on these markets and organizations, but on the entire EIM ecosystem of practitioners and vendors.

The solutions and approaches that have been developed for a well-defined set of industries, use cases and organizational types over the last 25 years or so will need to be thoroughly reconsidered. Some part of these will make the transition to this new EIM context with little or no alteration; others will need to be fundamentally reworked (or even rejected and replaced).

But no matter how it all eventually shakes out, this expansion will breathe new life into EIM as well as its practitioners and vendors. We’ll all be forced to rethink the way we work and counsel others to work in order to better fit the changing face of EIM not only during the rest of 2011, but into 2012 and far beyond. And that’s a good thing.

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