So what does the future hold for Enterprise Content Management? For those following this industry, I am sure that you have noticed that the differences between the ECM vendors have narrowed. Each of the top vendors supply similar functionality, with their differentiation coming in the solutions they provide and the industries they target. From a feature, function perspective, the industry has commoditized. With the emergence of Microsoft SharePoint as an ECM solution, the cost to purchase and implement ECM has also has dropped tremendously making it difficult to maintain the revenue levels garnered by the traditional ECM vendors and System Integrators. So what is the next frontier for content management? I propose that the next evolution will be Enterprise Information Management (EIM). EIM is the convergence of structured and unstructured information to make complex decisions.
Information required to make these decisions does not exist in a single location or even in a single format. Corporate information can exist in many operational systems throughout an organization. These systems contain the information that is used to run the company. Information can be both structured and unstructured. Information can exist in:
- Databases (structured information) that are the underlying pinning of the operational systems, such as the financial, manufacturing and human resource systems.
- Documents (unstructured information) that are used to record the organization’s processes or communicate the financial state of the company.
EIM strategies cover all types of information that can include;
- Collaboration (Discussion Groups, Wiki, Blog)
- Web Content
- Instant Messaging
To do this, users will need to leverage technology in ways that extend past their typical uses. They will need to be able to mine the information that may be in multiple repositories to formulate their decisions.