8 Reasons Why CMIS Will Transform the ECM Industry
John Mancini

By: John Mancini on December 7th, 2009

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8 Reasons Why CMIS Will Transform the ECM Industry

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

In the later part of 2008, OASIS announced the formation of a committee to develop the Content Management Interoperability Standard (CMIS), designed to standardize a web services interface specification that will enable interoperability of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. EMC, IBM, and Microsoft lead the way by developing the initial draft for the standard. Other ECM vendors such as Alfresco, Open Text, Oracle, and SAP reviewed the draft and provided comments before advancing the standard through the standardization process.

Here are eight reasons why CMIS will transform the ECM industry:

  1. CMIS is the SQL for Content Management.

    According to OASIS, the objective of the CMIS standard is to define a common content management web services interface. This approach is very similar to the standardization of SQL by ANSI in the 80s. SQL enabled software application vendors for the first time to offer database applications that could run against different databases. So SQL boosted the growth of software markets like ERP and CRM dealing with structured data. Twenty-five years later, CMIS will now enable ISVs to offer content-centric applications that can be run on top of different ECM-platforms. That will enlarge the opportunities for vendors of Content Enabled Applications drastically and will lead to a lot of innovation in this marketplace.

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  2. CMIS is not just another standard.

    Maybe you think that CMIS is just another standard like JCR, ODMA, or others that were not adopted by the majority of vendors. But CMIS is different because all major players in the market are backing it: IBM, EMC, and Microsoft proposed it, and now most of the relevant players like Adobe, Alfresco, Open Text, SAP, and SAPERION join the OASIS CMIS group working on the standard. And many of them have already shown that they are serious about adapting CMIS into their products. Because they know that in a few years, CMIS will be a key for successfully selling an ECM Product, or would you buy a database system today that couldn’t easily import and export data?

  3. CMIS is already well accepted by the customers.

    According to a survey published by AIIM, more than 50% of the customers have more than ten repositories that could fruitfully linked or managed in one place. Some organizations plan to migrate their multiple repositories to one system, but for mid-size or large enterprises, this will not be possible. In another survey conducted amongst members of AIIM, more than 15% already said that CMIS would be important for them in order to link multiple repositories. For me, that is a great number considering that CMIS is not an approved standard yet.

  4. No more lock-in to one ECM-vendor because of CMIS.

    Until today the ECM industry was driven by high complexity and proprietary systems that prevented to switch to other vendors. Even when a vendor dramatically increased maintenance fees, there often was no choice to go somewhere else because of the tight and proprietary integrations between the customer build applications and the ECM-infrastructure. CMIS will help separate the applications from the ECM-platform, and so there will be no more lock-in to one vendor. Doesn’t that sound great?

  5. With CMIS, the ECM infrastructure will become a commodity.

    During the last years, the differences of the relevant content-repositories in the marketplace became smaller, and ECM-systems are a kind of commodity right now. Customers know what functionality they want when looking for an ECM platform, and this is why the market is ready for open source alternatives now. These trends are serious issues for the traditional ECM-infrastructure players, and, with CMIS, it will be even harder for them to differentiate on the backend side.

  6. CMIS-based applications will become the differentiator.

    Many smaller ECM-vendors have to recognize that the proprietary ECM-infrastructure they are offering will be history in a few years. Their chance to survive the market consolidation is to make their backend systems CMIS-compliant and to differentiate themselves with outstanding CMIS-based applications that are portable and can be run on the different ECM platforms. New companies and business models will evolve, serving the fast-growing markets for CMIS-based Composite Content Applications as well as Transactional Content Management Applications.

  7. CMIS will help to create a 360° view on your customers.

    Most large organizations have multiple ECM solutions, and the integration of all these into one application is today very expensive to implement and maintain because of the proprietary APIs. CMIS can enable interoperability across repositories, and we’ll see CMIS-based standard software in the market that can be used to federate multiple ECM systems easily. So CMIS will help to make sure that even large organizations are able to create a 360° view on their customers. That’s exactly what they’re looking for.

  8. CMIS 1.0 is just the beginning.

    Some people criticize the fact that CMIS will be a kind of lowest common denominator and say that it will be incomplete in a way that not all the functionality of the different ECM-systems will be covered. That’s true, but for me, it’s much more important that very soon we’ll get a lean standard which is easy to learn and will be well accepted. Of course, there is some proprietary work to do beside CMIS to make a complex content-centric application run on the systems of different vendors. But that’s the same kind of work an ISV has to deal with when supporting the different flavors of SQL. I’m convinced that CMIS is the right standard at the right time and can make the ECM world a better place.

The CMIS standard is going to have a major impact on the ECM industry. Now, let's start talking about CMIS 2.0.


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About John Mancini

John Mancini is the President of Content Results, LLC and the Past President of AIIM. He is a well-known author, speaker, and advisor on information management, digital transformation and intelligent automation. John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of more than 30 eBooks on a variety of topics. He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as jmancini77. Recent keynote topics include: The Stairway to Digital Transformation Navigating Disruptive Waters — 4 Things You Need to Know to Build Your Digital Transformation Strategy Getting Ahead of the Digital Transformation Curve Viewing Information Management Through a New Lens Digital Disruption: 6 Strategies to Avoid Being “Blockbustered” Specialties: Keynote speaker and writer on AI, RPA, intelligent Information Management, Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation. Consensus-building with Boards to create strategic focus, action, and accountability. Extensive public speaking and public relations work Conversant and experienced in major technology issues and trends. Expert on inbound and content marketing, particularly in an association environment and on the Hubspot platform. John is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William and Mary, and holds an M.A. in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.