Archive for August, 2007

Clearview Honored as 2007 Trend-Setting Product by KMWorld

August 23, 2007

Clearview Software, the premier innovators of the contemporary Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution designed exclusively for Microsoft® technology environments, is pleased to announce that their revolutionary ECM suite, Clearview4, has just been recognized by KMWorld magazine as one of the Trend-Setting Products for 2007. Clearview was chosen from a field of over 650 content, document, search, and knowledge management products considered for this prestigious list of trend-setters in the ECM market.

“We are quite pleased to accept the first award Clearview has received since we revealed our innovative new ECM suite to the market earlier this year,” said Mike Ball, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy with Clearview Software. “Our vision of bringing a new level of customer excellence and product innovation is being well received and we would like to thank KMWorld for its recognition of our efforts.”

Clearview is the first “next-generation” ECM solution that has been designed to bring a fresh, new approach to how organizations implement and use content management. Built 100% from the ground up on .NET and exclusively for the Microsoft technology platform, Clearview is the first ECM solution that actually encapsulates Microsoft SharePoint® as a core component of the Clearview ECM architecture. The combined SharePoint emphasis and contemporary innovation offered by Clearview significantly enhance the ECM platform options for customers across all vertical business segments.

Hugh McKellar, KMWorld editor-in-chief, said, “While the selection process is always difficult, we are very excited about this year’s list of trend-setting products. Gathering information from both vendors and their customers, we believe this year’s honorees, like Clearview, truly reflect the very best thinking and development of solutions in meeting the demands of today’s consumer-driven market.”

Defining ECM and where SharePoint® Fits

August 1, 2007

In my last column, I discussed some of the news hype along with the positive effects and potential impacts on the ECM industry that has or will come about with Microsoft’s recent Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) introduction.

Since the last column, Microsoft has announced that SharePoint has generated $800 million in revenue and is projecting a whopping $1 billion impact in 2008.

If this doesn’t spell “g-a-m-e c-h-a-n-g-i-n-g” then I am not sure what it takes to get folks to realize it really IS a whole, new ballgame – for customers, for vendors, and for the broader ECM industry.

Now one of the biggest challenges that has come about from the hype and the huge Microsoft marketing blitz around SharePoint and ECM has been defining “what is SharePoint?” or maybe more importantly “what isn’t SharePoint?” when it comes to describing an ECM solution. In our discussion today, we’re going to review this question and help readers understand, with the aid of some newly crafted Microsoft positioning, exactly where SharePoint fits within an ECM strategy.

To begin: let’s first define ECM or “Enterprise Content Management.” Well, on second thought, that itself could take another two or three month’s worth of columns to cover in its entirety. Let me better narrow my focus to illustrate how most of the industry uses the term “ECM” and what we mean by an ECM solution.

Enterprise Content Management as a term (most credit Documentum for its origination and definition) is not illustrative of the market segment to which solutions are offered (e.g. enterprise, mid-market, small to medium businesses, etc.). Rather, ECM describes a suite that is capable of managing literally all types of business content and the associated technologies and functionality needed to support the capture, storage, management, protection, and delivery of the business content. This seems to fall in line with the usage of the “enterprise” classification, even Microsoft is using this to describe richer functional editions of SQL 2005 and SharePoint itself.

So what are the required functions and technologies of true Enterprise Content Management solutions? Gartner, Forrester, and other analyst groups are now defining specific guidelines in order for a vendor to be able to include their product suite in the ECM category. These guidelines suggest that a vendor must deliver five or six portions of what we call the “ECM stack” in order to be truly categorized and recognized as an ECM provider. One of the reasons for this is that many vendors that provided isolated components of the stack were calling themselves ECM vendors. This is one of the mistakes the AIIM/ECM community has made for years – confusion in posturing and definitions. In response, the analysts have tightened up in order to mitigate some of this confusion.

The “ECM stack” is loosely defined, but most vendors would acknowledge that it is comprised of a majority of the following core technology functions:
a. Document Imaging (including Capture/Scan technologies)
b. Document Management
c. Enterprise Report Management (COLD)
d. Web Content Management
e. Email Management
f. Forms Management
g. Records Management and Retention Services
h. Workflow & Business Process Management (BPM)

Some vendors might also include Digital Asset Management as a component of the stack, and there may still be others I’ve neglected here. But for our purposes, and for defining SharePoint’s position within the ECM category, we’ll limit our stack to the above list.

In my previous column, I mentioned that one of the issues when Microsoft first began messaging and positioning SharePoint within this market was that the usage of the term “ECM” was a little loose and invoked broader functional attributes than what SharePoint could really support or offer out
of the box. This confusion extended around the market from customers, to industry analysts, through resellers and vendors – and perhaps right on into Microsoft internally. Many actually thought SharePoint could be a full spectrum, head-on alternative to the broader and richer ECM suites offered by industry icons like EMC Documentum, IBM, OpenText, and others. However, after further due diligence, it was discovered that while SharePoint’s functionality is rich and quite impressive on many fronts, it is not a full ECM suite or end-to-end “stack” solution; rather, it offers a portion or contribution toward a complete ECM solution.

Now some may not agree with this next statement, but I think many will agree that eventually Microsoft “gets it right.” And to their credit, they have worked closely with various ECM industry analysts, vendors, and other interested constituents to refine their positioning (as most vendors do over the life of their solutions and products). I think many in the industry will be quite pleased with the outcome as this refined and narrowed focus for the strengths of SharePoint is presented to the market.

Essentially, Microsoft has most recently referred to SharePoint’s key functionalities as “ECM Sub- Capabilities.” This messaging highlights that there are key attributes or components of the broader ECM stack that SharePoint fulfills quite nicely – and others that it currently does not speak to. Below is
an excerpt from a recent slide deck presented by Microsoft personnel to illustrate this new positioning.

Sub-Capabilities of SharePoint

Sub-Capabilities of SharePoint

This slide clearly highlights the strengths and rich functionality that SharePoint provides with the latest release. As you can note, Microsoft highlights four key areas:
a. Document Management
b. Records Management (we believe this also includes Email Management)
c. Forms
d. Web Content Management

Now this isn’t to say that there aren’t other capabilities that SharePoint can fulfill – especially with partner-provided solutions that round out the stack. But let’s save that discussion for another month’s topic… So the best way to think of SharePoint based upon this messaging today is that it truly does provide some great “sub-capabilities” or portions of the broader ECM stack. But today it cannot be seen or classified as a full ECM solution on its own without the complement of partner provided components and solutions.