Enterprise Content Management is Dead

By Dan Elam posted 08-19-2010 14:02



Last week Wired magazine declared that “The Web is Dead.  Long Live the Internet.”  The basic point was that the peak of the web explosion over 50% of internet traffic being HTML web pages, but that today it is just 23% and declining.  Why?  Because users are trading their browsers to increasingly get content over the internet through iPhone–style apps, video, and PC-based peer-to-peer applications.  These trends have a profound impact to the way that we try to manage content within the enterprise and one thing is clear:  Enterprise Content Management is dead.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer turns 15 years old this year and for most ECM users, Explorer is the user interface back to their content repository.  The web browser replaced traditional Windows “fat” clients for access.  In doing so, it offered a less sophisticated user-interface for end users, but dramatically lowered the cost of deployment and customization.  At the same time, these systems expanded from largely handled scanned images to include common office documents and, more recently, email.  The vast majority of scanned images, Word files, spreadsheets, and emails can easily be handled by today’s ECM systems – as long as it is inside the enterprise.

Unfortunately, what worked then doesn’t work today.  The high cost of traditional ECM deployments have put the content into cloud environments that can be deployed faster and for lower costs.  Social media networks – like Facebook with a mind-boggling 500M users – have replaced email and even web posts.  The types of content being generated are changing rapidly too.  New employees entering the workforce are far more likely to use a text message than an archaic email. 

In my world I am heavy user of instant messaging technology and consider myself to be an early adopter for most technologies.  Despite that I am way behind my co-workers. In the first four hours of my work day, I had 34 text messages from employees under 30 years old.  Those same demographics sent me only 26 emails during the same time period.  Those text messages, of course, came through on my phone and aren’t connected to our corporate ECM system making it a great challenge to determine which will need to be stored as records.  Today’s content is wider than ever before, is being generated both inside and outside the enterprise, being created and consumed by more devices than ever (iPad, Droid phone, Facebook, etc.), and can be stored and accessed anywhere in the world.  The term ‘enterprise’ is not enough.  Today, we need Universal Content Management (UCM):  the ability to create, retrieve, and manage all business information no matter whether it is behind our firewall or not.

Cisco and Intel have both have seen this.  Cisco notes that video content has exploded recently and now accounts for more internet traffic than HTML pages.  iPhone-style apps have replaced web browsers for a richer user experience and generate plenty of internet traffic – but not HTML web traffic.  Email, as a percentage of total internet traffic, has declined considerably.  Intel not only sees this, but they made a bet with the recent $7.7B offer for McAfee that non-PC devices will continue to play a bigger role.  McAffee’s current products largely run on traditional PCs, but with phone and other devices eclipsing PC sales this year, Intel’s purchase means that the McAfee purchase takes a whopping 44 years to payback under their existing profit model.  McAfee is rapidly pushing to a model with security in phones, tablets, and traditional PCs.  The purchase only makes sense if the non-PC market grows.

Even within the HTML world, there is less reliance on traditional browser-based content.  Web analystics firm Compete points out that the top 10 web sites accounted for 31% of US pageviews in 2001.  In 2010, the top ten web sites account for 75% of pageviews.

All of these changes to how and where of content mean that today’s ECM systems are fast moving to obsolesce.  They don’t manage enough content types and they don’t manage content stored outside of the enterprise.  Today, records managers will face the burden of tracking and managing this content manually.  In time, look for vendors to develop true UCM that is aware of content stored in the enterprise and in the public infrastructure (like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.)  Big infrastructure and content platforms will end up with interfaces to the UCM solutions.  Solutions for capturing content on Blackberry and iPhone platforms will evolve to meet the business requirements.

As long as we have rules and regulations we will have content.  But increasingly, managing content just within the enterprise isn’t enough.

#UCM #ECM #ElectronicRecordsManagement