Manufacturing and “heavy industry” have much in common with respect to their enterprise content management (ECM) habits, and comparing your own organization against a wider peer group may help get you out of the status quo rut you may be in.

This post discusses the technologies and products we most typically see in large manufacturing and heavy industry companies. I’m casting a wide net -- including oil and gas, chemical manufacturing, consumer goods manufacturing and even pharma. But it’s worth it.

The comparison may be most useful if you're a core member of this large peer group. But it should also be of interest if you represent another vertical or belong to a mid-sized organization. The data presented here is based on our consulting practice, on market research, and on discussions with organizations and vendors.

Let’s Start with a Map of the ECM Capabilities

To organize the comparison I’m going to use a reference model I often use to discuss the primary capabilities in ECM. An ECM environment can be conceptualized as a series of layers, each of which includes discrete functional components, as depicted in the figure below.

ecm layers.png

The model doesn’t tell the whole story about what’s happening in the content technologies today, since the trend is to include “classic” ECM into the broader domain of Enterprise Information Management (EIM). EIM contains ECM but also Enterprise Data Management (EDM – the stuff in databases), social content and instrument data. But for present purposes this model will work, and it does include or at least provides a way to address all EIM capabilities. Social content, for example, is spread across a number of boxes (such as Collaboration and Information Exchange).

Now Compare your Company with your Peers

1. The ECM Presentation Layer

1.1. Capture

  • Many are standardizing on Kofax or Captiva
  • Some (but not most) have successfully incorporated the automated ingestion of email, attachments and faxes into the capture/ECM workstream.
  • Most use Multi Function Printers (MFP), some have incorporated them into the centralized capture operation.
  • None have begun to use mobile device capture heavily, but many are planning applications
  • All have at least some Optical Character Recognition (OCR) or other recognition, but few have widespread document recognition.

1.2. E-Forms

  • Most have an organically grown mess of e-forms
  • Some are using Microsoft InfoPath for simpler internal applications.
  • Most are paralyzed into inaction because of the perceived effort and resources required to comprehensively "address" e-forms.

1.3. User Interface (UI)

  • Few have a widespread UI to advanced ECM, though many have some integration hub; most are considering Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) compliance for the next upgrade and are planning on doing less customization (depending on productized integration components).
  • Few peers integrate desktop applications (e.g., Microsoft Office) well with advanced ECM systems.
  • Most are beginning to face their unmanaged Enterprise Systems Integration (ESI) on shared drives, hard drives and in email; SharePoint is becoming the go-forward system for this content.
  • Most have not successfully implemented an integration between SharePoint and advanced ECM; the few who did have taken far more resources than planned.
  • Most have at least standard integration of business applications (particularly Enterprise Resource Planning(ERP)) with external ECM systems (providing at least user access to content from within the UI).

2. Process and Collaboration Services Layer

2.1. Collaboration

  • Most use email and shared drives for most collaboration, though there is increasing use of SharePoint.
  • There are pockets of social media use, but few have external collaboration in production; few use mobile technology in production applications.

2.2. Workflow

  • Most use workflow provided by business systems (e.g. SAP, Oracle); some use ECM document-centric workflow from EMC/Documentum, sometimes others.
  • There is increasing use of SharePoint for basic authoring-review-approval workflow
  • Few have a clear division of labor and standards for types of workflow.

2.3. Process Automation

  • Most use offerings from IBM, Oracle and others, along with a mix of middleware or specialist components (e.g., Envision for modeling).

3. Content Middleware Services Layer

3.1. Enterprise Search

  • None I know of have successfully implemented a single "universal" search engine; few have been successful in more modest federated search across repositories from different vendors.
  • Most currently use a mix of basic Microsoft search, or use the inherent search capabilities of ECM (e.g., OpenText, Documentum) and archiving tools (e.g., Symantec) or business systems.
  • Some have implemented Autonomy; few have implemented IBM’s offering (IBM Content Analytics with Enterprise Search) -- and a small but growing number have implemented FAST for enterprise search.
  • Some have implemented specialized search like Oracle Endeca.

3.2. Taxonomy/Metadata Management

  • Few have implemented -- and successfully used -- specialized taxonomy tools (e.g., Smartlogic); most have inadequate taxonomies or rely on the taxonomy capabilities of their primary advanced ECM solution (e.g. Documentum, OpenText).

3.3. Document Composition/Publishing

  • Most don’t need it.

3.4. Document Security

  • Most are using Active Directory or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).
  • Few do encryption extensively.

3.5. Information Rights Management (IRM)

  • Most are concerned about IP leakage but most underuse IRM -- either using basic tools like Microsoft or Adobe, or occasionally using more extensive IRM specialist tools.

3.6. E-Discovery

  • Many have purchased point solutions for parts of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM); until recently, litigation readiness was not effectively aligned with either records management (RM) or broader ECM, but that is changing.
  • Trends include addressing litigation process and project management (e.g. legal hold management), bringing simpler cases in-house for "right side" activities, and focusing on proactive Information Lifecycle Management (ILM).

3.7. Integration

  • Many have some integration hub; many are considering CMIS compliance for the next upgrade and are planning on doing less customization (depending on productized integration components).

3.8. Digital Signatures

  • Many are using a mix to address the range of applications from simple, low-risk internal workflows to customer-facing replacement of "wet" signatures.
  • Many are delayed in migration because of internal inertia, rather than regulatory requirements.

4. Content Repository Services Layer

4.1. Document Management

  • Most have an advanced ECM system (e.g., OpenText, Documentum) that can address Document Management (DM), but most have not been highly successful at dynamic DM for documents that are not tightly associated to an Line of Business workflow.
  • Most prevalent content repositories are shared drives, followed by email and hard drives; most have growing, ungoverned use of SharePoint for document sharing.
  • Many are beginning to govern and implement SharePoint to address the above two issues: ineffective dynamic DM/RM and the risky "swamp" of unmanaged ESI in shared drives, email and hard drives.

4.2. Image Management

  • Many are consolidating image management into a single advanced ECM vendor and product -- at least on a day-forward and selected backfile basis.

4.3. Web Content Management (WCM)

  • Most have a mix of homegrown, SharePoint and either a pure-play WCM product or the WCM product from an ECM suite (typically OpenText, Oracle, Documentum or HP/Interwoven -- not IBM).
  • Many are moving to SharePoint for the intranet; few are using SharePoint for extranet or internet.
  • Many do not have a defined extranet/internet WCM technology strategy.

4.4. Digital Asset Management (DAM)

  • Most have scattered repositories (mostly shared drives) for digital assets; some use standardized SharePoint folders or the standard ECM capabilities of their advanced ECM system (e.g., core OpenText or Documentum)
  • Many have replaced or are replacing the above solutions with a specialized DAM tool as a point solution.

4.5. Output/Report Management

  • Most use “after thought” products rather than top tier products.

4.6. Records Management

  • Most have acquired electronic RM from their ECM suite provider (e.g., Documentum, OpenText); some have limited deployments, but very few have successful implementations.
  • Those who have succeeded have invested years of resources, and provide only limited models for greenfield organizations.
  • Organizations have an advantage if they can "capture" a significant proportion of records in their structured processes and place them in managed repositories; this is an advantage because the most successful electronic programs have been built upon successful ECM deployments that already have the relevant documents under control.

4.7. Email Management/Archive

  • Most have a self-defeating mix of too-small quotas, use of email as the de facto DM and workflow tool (with attachments), rampant PSTs, and no standardized information organization.
  • Many tried to address these issues with email management tools from ECM suite vendors, which failed to scale as expected.
  • Many also tried to change user behavior with quotas or purging and other rules, but did not provide adequate alternatives.
  • While there is no dominant trend today, an ascending trend is more aggressive disposition.

4.8. Storage

  • Many are not changing their storage strategy today, but recognize that it may have to be addressed in a few years.
  • Some are seeking ways to reduce the rate of increased storage requirements through de-duplication.
  • Some are realizing that their current storage approaches can’t fulfill their ECM, RM and e-discovery requirements -- e.g., for fast reliable access, for granular retention, purging, holds and releases.

Editor's Note: Read more from Richard in Enterprise Document Capture Initiatives, the Right Way