A week ago, my long time colleague, whose opinion I respect, Whitney Tidmarsh, (@whitneytidmarsh) EMC Documentum CMO and AIIM Board member tweeted the following: “ Great discussion with #AIIM board about the relevance of the term #ECM today. Does #ECM mean anything to you? What would you call it?” I immediately tweeted back “Duh – ECM”.
I was pleased to see a others chime in on my side of the debate – including @Bduhon and @piewords. While Twitter gave us a forum in which to quickly and succinctly express our views on this issue, the issue is one I am passionate enough about to want (OK need ) to expound further. (Whitney are you listening?) When I first saw the tweet I immediately thought of one of my favorite Shakespearean quotes “A Rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”
I know there is something to be said for the value of labeling a market the “right way”, but why would AIIM, “The ECM association” spend so much time on this acronym. I know from meetings of the past this is often a topic. As @Piwords tweeted “ECM is a known term. I can't imagine starting education process over. Fix the definition.” How true. Why waste time pondering the acronym? What does the acronym stand for – not in the literal sense, but the functional sense – that is the issue. I have always liked the acronym because it is so rich in meaning and potential growth. As I stated in my inaugural blog post, I take ECM literally and broadly:
Enterprise – business focused across the organization, directly tied to business processes and value propositions;
Content – in today's digital age virtually everything, from paper in filing cabinets to know-how in people’s heads, text to video, from html-based web pages to PDF'd contracts;
Management – the manipulation of content to promote and/or accelerate education, decision making and collaboration and full lifecycle control from authoring and scanning to myriad electronic displays – A full lifecycle cradle-to-grave proactive management of the content. In this definition, ECM includes: tactical technologies such as records management, imaging, search and retrieval, digital rights management, enterprise rights management, web content management; related technologies such as workflow and BPM; and broader applications and disciplines such as Information Architecture, Knowledge Management, Innovation Management and Enterprise 2.0. With such an appreciation for all that the acronym stands for you can appreciate the almost limitless possibilities for ECM. Although the market enjoys a solid past (steeped in ground-breaking imaging systems and pre-web search tools), it enjoys a vibrant present (characterized by Web and Enterprise 2.0) and has a rich future ahead (with emerging new digital content types, increasingly portable and flexible interfaces/devices and burgeoning new approaches to dynamically manipulating content in context on the horizon.) This is what keeps my passion for ECM alive. So it being the end of yet another year, I thought I would expound just a bit more on the future of ECM, not just into 2010, but beyond. These are some of the issues that I think keep ECM relevant, vibrant and ripe with opportunity.