From Transform Magazine by Penny Lunt, Doug Henschen, Hal Glatzer In the world of content and collaboration technologies, 2003 ended much as it began, with compliance taking center stage in the end-user community, consolidation reshaping the enterprise content management (ECM) community, XML-enabled content coming to the fore and business process management just emerging from its formative stages. That's not to say there wasn't progress. To be sure, there were many important mergers, acquisitions, product launches and pioneering uses of the latest technologies, but the underlying market directions remained intact. ... The bottom line is that it's still early days for compliance initiatives, and deadlines for complying with Sarbanes-Oxley Act, for one, have been pushed back to mid-2004. ECM vendors recognize that compliance is a long-term growth market, and this helped fuel rampant consolidation in 2003. ... Matt Suffoletto, CEO of Ixos' San Mateo, CA-based U.S. subsidiary, describes compliance as being "like 'Y2K,' but with no end-date. Over the last 12 months, firms have been scrambling to do something — anything. Now that the rules have been defined, there will be a serious effort to address them. ... Will records and e-mail management go down as the last front in the enterprise content management arms race? Not likely, given that many ECM vendors headed off in new directions in 2003. For example, FileNet, Staffware and Identitech added business process management features to their platforms in 2003, and other heretofore workflow-oriented vendors are bound to follow suit. ... Digital asset management represents yet another front that few ECM vendors have aggressively pursued thus far. ... So, while business managers ponder how to work within the new rules, IT managers are quickly gaining a range of choices in content-addressable software and/or hardware solutions. The specifics by which each enterprise will comply with, say, SEC 17a4, Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II, NYSE Rule 440, NASD Rules 3010/3110 or other regulations (both domestic and international) will have to be worked out by the customer or emerging industry conventions. But it's fair to predict that the curve of the creation-to-deletion cycle will shift in the direction of longer retention times and that more data will remain online, not off. Read.