Monday, June 29, 2015

Post ECM Modern New New

When John Newton, Alfresco CTO, talks about the “Modernization of ECM” he takes the biggest, most pervasive view possible of ECM at an organization. The issue I have with this view is that most solutions are point solutions which may be expanding into other departments, but are mainly focused on specific solutions, not necessarily solutions that impact the enterprise. He wants everyone to think big with “millennials” using “mobile” phones “collaboratively”, “sharing docs”, using “Instagram”, and “Snapchat”, etc.

Ok, great, CIOs think big, I get it, but what happens during the implementation? Did the big idea get implemented well, or are we blaming Users for “poor adoption”?  John says, “Employees don’t buy in because the systems are cumbersome, non-intuitive, or lack support for B2B sharing and remote access.” That type of statement side steps the many bad implementations made by his previous company’s professionals. You can’t leave a company, build a better solution, and then blame the old software for being inferior. For those of us who have seen their share of implementations, we know that ECM was first CM at many of these companies. The “E” depended on the professional services as much as the software.

The “extended enterprise” beyond the firewall concept has been around for over a decade. The issues of security and sharing information are evolving and involve way more than an ECM solution’s capacity and technology. The larger enterprise is under the gun here, not the content management system.

With the “Explosion of Digital Content” as quoted from IDC sources, the “big data” issue of finding and contextualizing content will always be an issue. The point should be that the “crap in, crap out” adage is the real issue, not the system. If you don’t take the time to add context to your content on the way in, the search results later, regardless of how heuristically brilliant the algorithm, will not be as accurate as you want or need.

There’s no doubt Alfresco has a head start with open technology, integrations, and UI simplicity. I just find it hard to believe that they still think ECM is everything to everyone when it comes to content. All applications have evolved to deal with content and metadata. ECM can help patch the holes and connect the dots, and even be everything to a small/medium sized company, but with large enterprises it takes many software solutions to deal with its content and information. Whether it be financial, human resources, healthcare, pharma, registration, etc., in each case there are specialty professional services and software solutions to fit the requirements. What ECM promises is to patch the hole when a leak occurs because a leak in the other solutions will eventually occur.

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