January 3, 2018

ECM – We Need Another Acronym, Part 2

Harvey Gross | VP of Content Services Solutions
enterprise content management blog articles default

At least I think we still need one to describe/represent a subset of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) space.  In our last post we learned that Gartner has retired ECM (or declared it dead) and suggests replacing it with Enterprise Content Services. Although I don’t disagree with the designation and all it might entail, I’m not sure that “ECS” is much of a step forward from “ECM”.

The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) tells us that what was once called document management was subsumed into content management, in no small measure because there is more information available today than ever before, and most of it is not being created by us.  Thanks to the mainstreaming of a whole range of sources and devices like the web, thumb drives, smart phones, cloud, etc., the need to deal with information of all kinds is much greater: not just in terms of more media types like text vs. images vs. voice files, but also in terms of how structured it all is or isn’t – with the structure making it much easier to manage.

Structured information is information that is highly defined and thus is like most of the information held in relational databases and acted upon by line-of-business solutions.

Unstructured information is information that does not have a fully defined structure, and that will most likely be consumed and used by humans. As examples, think of drawings, images, and files created with the use of a scanner.

Semi-structured information is information that lies somewhere in between, like invoices, purchase orders, and receipts, containing data that is computer-processed and delivered in formats and layouts that can be identified and classified. It is the structure and layout of the information that, with the proper tools and approach, allows us to operate on the information as if it were structured.

Managing this important, highly critical information is the area where we really need that new acronym – some kind of buzz word that describes the perils of diminished utility, loss of time, loss of productivity, possible non-compliance with regulations or corporate policies, and the risk of serious business interruption should we be less than successful in our management endeavors.

Customer Communication Management (CCM) has been used by some to describe the identification, storage, management and distribution of document-based information that directly relates to customers – invoices, bills, statements, correspondence, and legal and service records. Although the larger industry defines CCM as the creation, production and distribution and delivery of the original customer communication message, it is also an apt description of the ongoing maintenance of the communication record.

We, as users and vendors of CCM products and services need to do a better job of defining the role that we play in the overall CCM process.  A new acronym would certainly help. Anyone have any ideas?