Time for ECM Standards

Massive investments in enterprise content management (ECM) technologies are being wasted by inconsistent implementation and a lack of standardisation.

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Vendors claim highly scalable technology; so why are the majority of organisations struggling to go beyond successful departmental solutions when they want to expand to achieve an enterprise view?

Is the ECM bubble about to burst, as organisations question the claims of vendors and consultants alike? Or is good quality technology falling foul of inconsistent implementation and piecemeal strategies?

If so, how can the ECM industry address this challenge and enable the delivery of consistent enterprise wide end-to-end ECM deployments that truly maximise return on investment?

Maturing Market

Over the past 10 years organisations have invested in a number of point solutions, often at departmental level, from business process management (BPM) to information capture, document management and archiving. Today, as these technologies come together as ECM, there is a growing awareness of the huge potential benefits that could be achieved by enterprise wide deployments - from improved time to market through to achieving compliance.

Yet far too many organisations ditch highly successful departmental technologies in a bid to achieve an enterprise-wide approach. Indeed, misunderstanding and misinformation about ECM persists. Few organisations have any idea how best to create an ECM strategy or achieve successful company-wide deployment.

As a result, the majority of ECM deployments may be conjured up as multi-million pound enterprise level investments but the reality is limited point and departmental implementations in finance and engineering that patently fail to maximise return on investment.

Tarnished Reputation

Of course, point solutions typically deliver some return on investment. But the benefits are hardly those touted by eager vendors and consultants. Organisations are failing to maximise investment or attain the true benefits that an integrated ECM strategy can deliver.

The reality is beginning to bite: there is growing disdain at board level as ECM goals are unrealised despite what can be a very significant up front investment. The ECM market is beginning to look more than a little tarnished.

No ECM vendor wants to relive the problems endured in the ERP market in its early days. Far too many ERP products were ripped out and replaced simply because the initial implementation was ill thought out or inappropriate for a specific organisation.

There are clear signs that such activity is set to occur in the ECM market as organisations struggle to link up point product deployments into an enterprise wide solution. Before this trend becomes widespread, it is time for the industry to match its technology maturity with best practice consensus on the development and implementation of ECM strategies.

ECM Confusion

With vendors such as EMC, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle making a massive play for this market, there are a growing number of ‘best practice’ models being touted across the market. But each is vendor specific, reflecting the requirements and design of specific product sets. Furthermore, many best practice approaches are limited to specific parts of the ECM solution set such as data capture or BPM.

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