By the turn of the millennium, advances in technology had led to a massive shift away from physical towards digital. Many businesses found they could no longer keep up with the surging volume and variety of content being created daily. This called for a new way of managing information. AIIM answered the call in the year 2000 by coining the term “Enterprise Content Management” and defining the methodologies and best practices required for capturing, analyzing, mapping, preserving and storing information in this new era.
Innovation in the industry led to a new business Goliath — collaborative systems, like SharePoint. For companies, SharePoint was a beacon of productivity and collaboration. But, it was also a significant architect of data and documents. Suddenly, businesses were handling multiple information silos. Document updates between enterprise content management systems and SharePoint were lackluster, and collaboration efforts were stagnated by document version mismatches and system confusion. At the same time, operational tensions between document openness, collaboration, and governance were fracturing infrastructures and creating data drains.
To combat this, the next wave of content management tools were established. But, with these new tools, came a new form of enterprise content management. It was no longer "good enough" to merely handle, organize, and store documents. Businesses needed a robust architecture that could layer all of these data sources and documents and glue them to multiple customer and business channels.
The Death of ECM
The thought process workflow driving enterprise content management has changed. What started off as a way to combine physical and digital resources together coherently has become the architecture that ensures data storage, retrieval, organization, mapping, and attribution across your organization. This means that the modern ECM approach has to be capable of layering itself over your existing information systems (e.g., SaaS, PaaS, on-site servers, etc.) Today, ECM is an umbrella term for all of these processes that handle documents and data.
The rise of cloud technology and its subsequent as-a-service children have not only increased the necessity for enterprise content management, but they have also helped guide ECM into a new era. Enterprise content management no longer refers to a software set, system, or strategy of managing content. Instead, enterprise content management is the skeleton of your business’s entire document strategy.
In 2017, Gartner announced that ECM — as a terminology — was dead.
ECM is now dead (kaput, finite, an ex-market name), at least in how Gartner defines the market.
It's been replaced by the term Content Services.
At AIIM, we've been making a case for an evolved response to content management for years (see our 2015 report "Content Management 2020: Thinking Beyond"). It's not that the core principles driving ECM have changed; they haven't. Businesses still need solutions that help the end user manage the complex interaction between people, processes, and technology. But, the ways that they realize these solutions is evolving with technology, processes, and modern strategies.
In particular, data has radically changed the approachability of the term ECM. Since ECM was originally heavily focused on documentation, trying to position data into the mappings of ECM is difficult.
The "monolithic" ECM system doesn't fit into the modern business architecture. Not only are businesses changing the ways that they utilize content and data to define customer experiences, but data now plays a role in every significant business decision. And all of those documents are spread out across multiple frameworks and systems.
You have customer data spread out across an extensive architecture (e.g., CRM solutions, ERP solutions, etc.) multiple technologies (e.g., SaaS, PaaS, cloud, etc.) and a plethora of documents that exist across your IT pipeline, and all of that data and content is incredibly fluid and agile.
In other words, data needs in today’s business world are too broad for a single ECM solution. Meaning that the term "enterprise content management" doesn't adequately describe all of the content-based efforts that enterprises are managing and all of the systems being used.
In fact, we ran a survey in 2016 "ECM – State of the Industry - 2016" where 38% of respondents either agreed to strongly agreed that ECM is no longer the correct language to define content management products.