HYDRASIGHT ANALYSIS: Why enterprise content management is so hard

In this exclusive piece of analysis, Hydrasight explore why organisations find enterprise content management implementations so hard.

Hydrasight notes that those organisations continuing to struggle with enterprise content management (ECM) implementations do so largely because of confusion, a lack of definition and/or a gradual redefinition of the roles and expectations of the underlying products. Whether organisations rely on internal expertise or outsource ECM to third parties, we believe that understanding the role of ECM technologies is critical to their success.

Hydrasight notes that organisations typically:

  • Evaluate ECM as though it is an application – e.g., comparing features and functionality;
  • Purchase ECM as though it is infrastructure – e.g., based on enterprise-wide licensing, avoiding integration limitations;
  • Implement ECM as though it is an application – e.g., have expectations to ‘install and run’;
  • Extend ECM as though it is infrastructure – e.g., heavily customise the functionality and integration based on their own specific environment and needs.

These expectations also tend to change depending on the phase of the project. For example, expectations of ‘application’ are likely to emerge once licensing negotiations are complete and the product implementation is underway.

Hydrasight notes that organisations that view ECM more as a philosophy and general information management direction—rather than a product, application or infrastructure—have a greater chance of success (refer "Content Management Platform Wars "). Further, those that have a more mature view of ECM recognise that it is rapidly evolving into EC3M with the convergence of communication and collaborative technologies (refer "Defining EC3M").

In order to maximise the effectiveness of ‘unstructured’ content solutions, Hydrasight recommends organisations use a portfolio approach to manage the evolution of their content strategy. To illustrate, a web content management solution might be described as ‘an application’ to indicate the proclivity for early retirement as a tactical solution. Conversely, a real-time collaboration platform may be considered ‘infrastructure’ to communicate its long-term deployment expectations and the potential for heavy integration and customisation. Notwithstanding, Hydrasight believes the requirement to clearly articulate the anticipated lifecycle, time and cost implications of content solutions is paramount to their perceived value and success. Organisations must ensure that clear identification and categorisation of key assets within the ECM portfolio is undertaken—along with regular review and ‘rebalancing’—in order to maintain development/deployment momentum as well as to keep the business engaged.

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