The current discussion around enterprise content management (ECM) is still focused on the so-called "death of ECM" and the rise of content services. The discussion, which was encapsulated in the Gartner blog post published at the beginning of 2017, focused on the emergence of content services and the gradual decline of large proprietary ECM systems. In the post, Michael Woodbridge pointed out that by 2020, content services applications will replace traditional enterprise content management suites in 25 percent of large enterprises. This "replacement" process will continue and intensify as content management services in the cloud become easier to use and more accessible to more enterprises.

However, traditional enterprise content management needs remain and if there is a shift in emphasis with content services, the basic problems remain. Woodbridge pointed out that technology may have changed but the business problems that ECM aimed to solve remain the same, notably:

  • Regulatory compliance and risk management
  • Retention and dissemination of business knowledge
  • Cost and process efficiencies
  • Innovation and new ways of working

ECM, when it appeared, merged the capabilities of different types of content repositories together to achieve these goals in a unified ECM. However, as new content types and needs evolved in the enterprise, for some businesses it was easier to manage their content in several repositories using content services. Unified ECM provides the full array of content management functionality, including document and imaging management, web content management, digital asset management, and records and retention management on one platform. Content services manage content according to use cases using shared, common APIs. ECM, though, still solves many, current enterprise content problems.

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ECM Manages Knowledge Resources

Kristen Craft, Chief Revenue Officer at Cambridge, Mass.-based Tettra, said that for most leaders and founders, one of the biggest challenges is scaling information across the enterprise. How does a CEO transmit everything he or she knows to new hires? How do they effectively hand-off responsibilities, so that they can focus on greater growth? As leaders grow their business, they need to build an effective "operating system" that facilitates this hand-off of knowledge.

Most growing companies, though,  don't think intentionally about their internal operating system. They don't document their knowledge, resources, and standard operating procedures. Instead, people just go about their business and don't think about ECM until a critical moment, usually when someone quits, when someone joins the team, or when something goes wrong.

With a well-documented operating system in an ECM, people don’t need to scramble when one of these critical moments arises. It also enables people to make decisions using the best possible data to make the best possible decision.

Content Structure

According to Alan Santillan, Content Specialist at the Chicago-based G2 Crowd, ECM brings structure to what is inherently unstructured content in a flexible and organized process. This, of course, varies with software options, but for the most part is beneficial towards bringing organization to what can be a very dynamic environment.

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Organizes Workflows

Santillan added that ECM software provides workflow automation features that can be implemented to assemble files, documents, metadata and all sorts of information. This level of standardization is hard to achieve without an ECM.

Learning Opportunities

Collaboration and Storage

Businesses, for the most part, need to manage their digital documents to provide a collaborative environment throughout their organization. ECM products allow for users to comment, annotate and participate in the file editing process, while also creating a scalable digital library for the organization.

ECM’s Classify Data

In many Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 and even midsized companies, different departments have different objectives and goals, Robb Hecht of Baruch College in New York City said. They may even own separate parts of that corporate website, with only their team deciding and developing a content strategy and creative that fits with their department for their part of the website.

What happens then is that over time the corporate brand can suffer if there are conflicting and inconsistent messages out in the marketplace. This is where an ECM comes into play. Its role is to manage, classify, organize and in the end distribute content to creative employees based on search queries. The result is that content and creative is centralized in an approved place — and accessible to all — so that whatever assets are created (for corporate or a on a division level), to be in the ECM system it is an approved and latest version.  In this way ECMs streamline agile digital workplaces by making assets seamlessly available.

Overcoming the Content Bottleneck

Randy Wootton, CEO of New York City-based Percolate said that one of the biggest problems with enterprise content management is content bottlenecks. He said that now marketing strategies are built around personalization. If it is being done right, then you most likely have a content problem, in that it is challenging to produce enough and the right content to enable personalization of marketing efforts. The problem of personalization has increased over the past 25 years, which has now, in many enterprises, resulted in a content bottleneck.

A content bottleneck is the gap between the demand for content within your marketing organizations and the ability to deliver on that demand using the people, tools, and resources at your disposal. Critically, we hear this bottleneck described in one of three ways:

  • Quantity - We need more content
  • Quality - We need better content
  • Coordination - We need to take better advantage of the content we already have

According to Gartner (Subscription Required), personalization will become standard for brand engagements, but lack of scalable content creation processes will become the limiting factor for success.

ECM systems overcome this bottleneck by enabling users to find the content they need for personalization efforts produce enough high-quality content to connect with customers in a meaningful way.,

These are only some of the ways that enterprises said they are using their ECM. Matt Suggs, EVP of Sales at Mediafly a Chicago-based company that optimize the sales process pointed out that as enterprises continue to embark on their digital transformation journey, content management systems need to keep up. “A CMS plays a critical role in organizing, distributing and maintaining content. In order to serve today’s digital workplace, content management systems should be organized in a way that allows teams to easily find the content they need.