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Monday, October 8, 2007

How much "Enterprise" is there in ECM?

A lot I would argue. But ECM is - sadly - often discussed on a level where it is synonymous with ECM technologies. However, ECM is not a technology or a software product; it is a strategic approach on enterprise level on how to address the content management issues and challenges most enterprises are facing today. The disciplines of Enterprise Architecture and ECM should be a perfect match - in theory. In practice, their relationship is struggling because ECM is much more occupied with bits and zeros than with people and processes.

Here are a few posts more or less related to this subject that I have found interesting:

"Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Content Management" by Rajiv Dewan:

"In my experience working in the ECM arena, I have seen numerous deployments where the client is focussed on a particular business problem, or maybe is trying to address a particular set of regulatory guidelines/requirements. What seems to be lacking is a true understanding of how a content management solution fits into the Enterprise Architecture ...//.,. My personal view is that most ECM deployments, and this is on the vendors and systems integration/consultants who deploy these solutions, are not really architected to fit into a corporations 'Enterprise Architecture'. Furthermore, the discipline and rigour of EA is not really followed as ECM solutions are developed"

"Enterprise Architecture: ECM and Compliance Oriented Architectures" by James McGovern

"ECM is not an insular domain and should participate in a larger context ...//... Documentum, Alfresco, Nuxeo, Stellent, Filenet, OpenText and others are way too insular and need to start thinking more about how folks outside the ECM domain may use their products."

"The Enterprise Content Management - SOA Divide" by Alan Pelz-Sharpe:

"In the content management world, I sense something of a backlash brewing against SOA (Service Oriented Architecture), but I wonder how real or or even practical this is. With most Fortune 2000 firms already way down the SOA path, there seems to be no turning back. At the enterprise architecture level, there is no Plan B. So the issue for me is not whether SOA is the way forward for ECM, but rather how seriously some of the ECM vendors are embracing it."

"Transparent ECM and SOA" by Laurence Hart:

"This is where my concerns surface. EMC’s Documentum message has been subtly changing. Less focus on application-like modules, more focus on toolsets, integration, methodologies, SOA concepts and the like. It hasn’t just shown in the marketing. Several of the Content Applications have been slow to evolve in the last few years. There have been improvements, but many of those coincided with the unification of the product stack ...//... Here is the Catch-22. We need an ECM platform that can easily be plugged into an Enterprise Architecture. On the other hand, we like having good, solid Content Applications from the same vendor. Oh, there are times we want/need to mix and match, but many organizations want to at least be able to consider the applications provided by the ECM vendor. It also shows an understanding of the problems that the ECM Platform needs to support."

Finally, James Melzer has developed an interesting diagram called "EIA in Context" which he introduces in the post "Enterprise Information Architecture in Context". He explains his view on the relationship between the Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA) and ECM. The EIA defines the structure for content management, but it must first be aligned with the Enterprise Architecture. To quote:

"ECM is a permanent ongoing process to control a never-ending stream of content - to file it, organize it, and deliver it to the people who need it. EIA is the intelligence behind content management. It translates user needs, business goals, policies, and standards into a coherent plan for content management."


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