Archive for August, 2006

The Growing Importance of ECM…

  My friend Alan Pelz-Sharpe has a great post over at his Blog doingITbetter entitled “Why ECM is a must have in Enterprises”.

He provides some good observations about the growing importance of ECM as a strategic initiative for enterprises. One of the main reasons for this growing importance is the shift from long term employment and stability with a firm to a more volatile and transient workforce.

Well I think at least part of the reason is that particularly in large firms in the US we have moved very swiftly away from tenure and ‘tribal knowledge’, the expectation that people will stay a long while, and always be there as a resource. To one of downsizing, outsourcing, partnering and high turnover.

I agree. It is rare today to see knowledge workers who have been with an organization for years and years.

Finally Alan makes the case that an ECM strategy is essential and customers can no longer ignore the imperative to get their content under control and get a clue. 

In the meantime – strategy for ECM is essential, for without a strategy and thorough assessment either nothing gets done as nobody knows how or where to start, or you find yourself at the mercy of major ECM vendors. Some of whom have sold massive ELA’s (enterprise licence agreements) to clients who have little clue how to use or deploy this stuff. Its a potentially ugly situation that will come to a head.

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Soliciting Your Suggestions – What Do You Want To See At AIIM 2007

I am preparing some speaking proposals for next years AIIM Conference and thought it would be interesting to see what the readers of BetterECM would be interested in hearing at AIIM.

The AIIM Conference & Exposition will feature the following conference tracks:

  • ECM Essentials
  • Search and Retrieval
  • Information Sharing
  • Hot Topics (Leading edge new technologies)
  • ECM in the Enterprise-Architecture, Infrastructure & Applications
  • ECM Becomes Part of The Core Infrastructure
  • Risk Management: How to prevent content from becoming a liability
  • Management Best Practices

So, what would you suggest as a topic? What is that AIIM conference session that you always wished was on the agenda and if it were, you would definitely attend.

Let me know what you think.

Hey, you may have a hand in shaping the next AIIM conference 🙂

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Spreading My Blogging Wings A Bit…

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I will also be Blogging about the intersection of Business Process Management (BPM) and ECM over at BPM Enterprise.com. There are some great resources about BPM and the roster of contributing Bloggers as well as the BPM Enterprise Staff offer some useful information and perspectives.

The fact that many ECM suites include workflow and in some cases include many of the capabilities of BPM suites makes this intersection and interesting phenomenon to discuss.

So, is the ECM suite an enhanced BPM suite which has broader content management capabilities? Or, are ECM suites just content management platforms which in some cases include workflow which ranges from simple to more BPM-like? Not sure what the answer today is and definitely not sure where everyone is headed but with your participation and discussion I look forward to exploring this interesting set of question.

So, if you find BetterECM useful and informative stop on over at the BPM Enterprise Blogosphere 😉

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Time For The Big Guys To Go On A Diet!

bigbelly After reading Open source makes development faster, I started thinking about some of John Newton’s comments about how fast Alfresco has been able to develop their ECM solution compared to normal proprietary software development.

Now that IBM is buying FileNET, they are going to have a monumental job ahead of them to begin integrating/absorbing/digesting the FileNET pieces into something that looks like an improved ECM suite. What will make this even more challenging is that FileNET has not really been known for their agility. It took them years to migrate from all the acquisitions to the P8 platform. Also IBM tends be be a bit rotund also…Don’t they call it Big Blue?

And how about Microsoft! When they finally release Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 later this year it will be a full three years since the last version of SharePoint. The folks in Redmond better look around at the Open Source guys and figure out how to deliver incremental new features and improvements in a period less than a year.

Another bloated example is EMC Software. I was talking with my former CTO the other day who had a chance to get a close up look at the new and improved version of Documentum which now manages records in the same repository. They finally consolidated these multiple repositories after over 3 1/2 years since Documentum acquired TrueArc back in November 2002. Wow, that’s a long time!

If the big guys, and for that matter, other traditional ECM software vendors, don’t become more agile we might see the open source alternatives continue to accelerate their growth and acceptance by enterprise customers. The market will not continue to have the patience to wait around 3 or more years for major improvements in functionality and new capabilities when there are more agile alternatives.

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"Does Microsoft Finally Get Records Management?" AIIM E-DOC Article Available

I wrote this review of Microsoft’s first foray into the records management world with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. You can download the article here.

In the article I review some of the common records management features that Microsoft does a good job of addressing. I then list the three areas where Microsoft misses the mark. The article appeared in the July/August 2006 print issue of AIIM E-DOC magazine. It has not made it onto the AIIM E-DOC web site yet.

Take a read and let me know what you think…

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Microsoft Jumps Into The Blog Editor Pool

Microsoft just launched the beta of Windows Live Writer. The fact that there is another Blog editor is not that significant. The fact that Microsoft has decided to jump into the Blogosphere in a big way IS significant.

With the next version of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Microsoft has added Blog, RSS, and Wiki support for SharePoint. So now, SharePoint can serve as a blogging platform for both Intranet and Internet scenarios.

With this post, I plan to start using Windows Live writer to try it out and see how well it works. I also plan to try out some of the features. So far I like what I see and find some of the picture manipulation capabilities nice.

For instance here is the same photo as above transformed to black and white. Other transforms include Sepia, Temperature Adjustment, Color Pop, Sharpen, Gaussian Blur, and Emboss.

You can also insert Windows Live maps into a post – really cool 🙂

BetterECM comes to you from Reston, VA.

IBM to Acquire FileNET: I was Right!!! Well, Mostly Right

bigfisheatlittlefish IBM announces they have signed a definitive agreement to acquire FileNET.

Hat tip to Jesse Wilkins on the Records Management Listserv. I had not even had a chance to look at the RSS feed I watch and his email hit my inbox.

Anyway, I knew FileNET was ripe for being acquired and have said as much for the last year or so. So I was right! Where I missed the mark was that I thought Oracle or Sun Microsystems would be the one acquiring FileNET.

So, what does this mean to the ECM marketplace and will this move by IBM make ECM better?

Well, on the first question, here is the tier one-tier two ECM leader board as I currently see it:

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • EMC (Documentum) Oops – left them off earlier today. Thanks for the heads up Mark 🙂
  • Oracle
  • FileNET
  • Open Text
  • Hummingbird
  • Stellent
  • Interwoven (may or may not belong on this list)
  • Vingette (may or may not belong on this list)

The marketplace continues to shrink and I think either Stellent or Interwoven are next to get swallowed up although I really cannot think of a good reason why.

As far as the second question, here is an excerpt from the press release:

“Following completion of the acquisition, IBM intends to:

  • Combine FileNet’s operations with IBM’s Content Management business in the Information Management unit led by General Manager Ambuj Goyal.
  • Preserve and enhance customer investments in both FileNet and IBM Content Management platforms, leveraging IBM’s market-leading Information Integration technology to develop broader ECM solutions.
  • Integrate IBM’s BPM and Service Oriented Architecture technologies with the FileNet platform.
  • Train IBM and FileNet partner and services teams on both IBM and FileNet technology.

Through this acquisition, the thousands of customers using IBM and FileNet solutions will now have a more powerful base of industry-leading content management products to build upon as they explore next-generation information management solutions.”

Right now the IBM ECM offering is still many moving pieces that have been picked up by acquisition and still have not been completely absorbed or integrated into a cohesive single architecture. Adding FileNET to this mix will only prolong this effort and make thing more complex thereby adding to the implementation costs for customers.

Bottom line: I do not think this will make ECM better for FileNET customers and the value to IBM customers is questionable.


Why BetterECM?

This Blog focuses on how to effectively use enterprise content management (ECM) technologies to solve business problems. I also try to debunk some of the myths floating around the ECM market.

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____________________________
Russ Stalters is Director, Information & Data Management at a global oil and gas company. Everything in this Blog is his personal opinion and does not represent the views of his employer. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.


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I will also be Blogging about the intersection of Business Process Management (BPM) and ECM at BPM Enterprise.com.

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