Gartner Says ECM is Reinventing Itself for the Digital Workplace

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For the past year or two, the smart guys within the $6 Billion industry known as Enterprise Content Management, or ECM, have been aware that things are changing – paper is dwindling (finally!), new forms of content such as video, audio and social media are on the rise, and new technologies (i.e. Cloud, Mobile and Analytics) are transforming the types of solutions and services available. For these and other reasons, there are many at AIIM (the Association for Information and Image Management), as well as at the major software vendors who serve the market and within the analyst community who have been suggesting that it is time for a name change.

Yet, ECM persists.

And now here comes the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant, the annual report for ECM by one of the leading arbiters of technology for business. While they stop just short of changing its name, they have adjusted the definition of ECM to encompass the new realities. The report acknowledges a major shift from “a centralized, back-end, command-and-control focus on managing unstructured content to a more integrated approach that prioritizes content usability, processing and analysis.”

Think of it this way: ECM has moved from the Back Office to the Digital Office.

The emphasis on content usability is an essential point. ECM is no longer about securely storing documents until the end of their legal usefulness (although this remains a core use case). Today, ECM is about putting content to work wherever it adds value, perhaps within a business process or during a transaction or for consumption on demand by a customer.

The call-out to analysis is also worth noting. It acknowledges what ECM program managers have been saying for a while. They know they have valuable data buried inside their documents, but they don’t have a good way to get at it. A corporate ECM manager recently told me that his company has 60 million documents sitting in their repository, but he doesn’t really know what’s in them.business woman touching virtual screen, pushing icon on media

What emerges from Gartner’s annual round-up of ECM trends is a maturing market revitalized by the digital workplace. While simple capabilities like content storage and retrieval have become simply the cost of doing business, there is a robust new demand for content solutions that facilitate use and sharing of information from content. And there is a much greater willingness to embrace business intelligence to empower users with knowledge management.

If your role crosses ECM, even tangentially, I would suggest that the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management offers not only food for thought, but significant nutritious value. IBM, which is named ECM leader for the fifth year in a row, is making it available free of charge. I do hope you’ll take the time to read it here.

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