Alas, there’s something interesting to talk about at EMC besides the shape and timing of CEO Joe Tucci’s exit and whether Elliott Management will force it to lighten its grip on VMWare.

EMC’s Enterprise Content Division (EMC ECD) is building a new Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution that will be completely independent of Documentum.

And get this, it’s apps, not a platform.

EMC ECD President Rohit Ghai set the broad vision for something code-named Project Horizon just before EMC World last May. Now he and his team are further along. In an exclusive conversation with Ghai earlier this week, we learned more about it.

Built for Cloud First, Mobile First Era

When Forrester analysts began looking at the criteria for its Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Wave earlier this year, they decided that there should be two Waves rather than one.

The first would focus on business content services and the second on transactional content services.

Ghai thinks this was a good idea, even though it brought some newer, younger, possibly disruptive players like Box and M-Files into the crest. A crest which has, up until now, almost always housed only well-heeled giants like EMC, IBM, HP and OpenText among others.

“ECM used to be all about the back-end — managing securing, and organizing content,” said Ghai. “It’s not limited to that anymore.”

A Bit of Back Story

Documentum is often referred to as “the Cadillac” of Enterprise Content Management.”

In other words, it’s fully loaded.

Last year Gartner spotlighted its ECM stack which includes: capture, document management, process management and records management, EMC InfoArchive, as well as its Industry solutions that help clients get more value sooner.

But the analyst didn’t even stop there, it also pointed to options for the private cloud deployment of Documentum, Documentum xCP, Captiva and Document Science as strengths.

From almost any perspective, that’s a pretty big load, but it’s what companies in highly regulated industries require. EMC provides a selection of Industry apps, which abstract the complexity from the end user and the burden from IT when it’s used as a managed service.

That’s what Documentum is today and it remains a best of breed solution 25 years after it first took the market by storm for one reason only, it has been diligent in responding to end users’ needs year-after-year.

Its customers, according to the analysts, are happy.

Mobile, Social, Lighter

But here’s the deal. Not every end user, not every knowledge worker who creates, consumes or shares content needs or benefits from all that Documentum has to offer.

In fact a content management system that’s cloud-first (not cloud-only), mobile, social and lighter might provide greater productivity, a better end user experience and game-changing insights for a good number of productivity workers and still meet Enterprise requirements.

Make Money, Save Money, Collaborate

That’s what Project Horizon will help companies do in a way that nothing else on the market does, according to Ghai.

“It’s a different way to care for customer needs,” said Ghai.

EMC’s new Content Management solution will be born in the cloud, but it won’t be cloud-only. “That’s an important distinction,” said Ghai, “”we’re offering our customers choice.”

Project Horizon is a suite of apps, it’s being built modularly so that it can sit alongside existing systems. It will work with content wherever it lives.

“You won’t have to move content,“ said Ghai. “It’s not being designed as a platform. It’s apps.”

Though Project Horizon will work beautifully alongside Documentum, it’s not being built exclusively for those purposes. Instead it aims to reinvent collaboration and productivity for the modern era.

It just might be the future of work.

3 Content Management Solutions

Once Project Horizon is released — probably next May — EMC ECD will have three distinct content management solutions in play: Project Horizon, Documentum, and InfoArchive.

Ghai couldn’t help but remind us that EMC is one of the few ECM vendors that covers all of the modern Enterprise’s needs. If Project Horizon delivers as promised, there could be game-changing wins ahead.

But, for now, of course, it’s out in the horizon.