Posts Tagged ‘Records Management’

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.

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Clearview Announces ACE Award Nomination

April 10, 2007

Clearview Software, innovators of the fresh, new approach to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) built exclusively on the Microsoft® technology platform, is proud to announce its selection as a finalist in the ECM Connection ACE Awards in the Banking/Finance category.

The ACE designation honors a company’s accomplishments and achievements in three specific categories: Appeal, Content, and Education. According to the ECM Connection staff, appeal refers to the company’s innovative, feature-rich product line; content refers to the valuable information resources offered on the company’s Web site and in its marketing collateral; and education refers to the vendor’s outstanding outreach programs and services.

Twenty-three finalists have been chosen around six industry and vertical market categories: Government, Healthcare, Banking/Finance, Compliance, High-Volume Scanning, and Low-Volume Scanning. Clearview Software, with its innovative new Clearview™ ECM suite, has been selected as an award finalist in the Banking/Finance category. The winners will be announced live at the upcoming 2007 AIIM Conference & Expo on April 17 in Boston, Massachusetts.

“Clearview is honored to be highlighted with this award nomination as we make our debut at the AIIM 2007 Conference and Expo,” said Michael Ball, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy for Clearview Software. “Our commitment and vision to provide highly innovative ECM solutions, combined with superb customer service and high levels of educational excellence are making an impact on the rapidly evolving ECM market.”

As the first solution to bring enterprise-class features and functionality to the mid-market, Clearview delivers rich ECM functionality that is highly extensible. Document imaging, document management, report management, workflow, retention services, email management, and records management are all bundled into a simplified package. Furthermore, the Office 2007 user experience enables information workers to interact with Clearview 4 through a feature-rich Microsoft Windows based Client, an optional Web Client interface, or the intriguing new Clearview IRISS Desktop Gadget. The IRISS Desktop Gadget is a brand new Windows Vista inspired mini-application that delivers a revolutionary user experience for the instant retrieval or storage of business information and content.

Technically, Clearview 4 is the first ECM solution built 100% on modern technological standards, including Microsoft .NET, SharePoint® Server 2007, Office 2007, SQL Server 2005, XML, and SOA/Web Services. Of particular interest, Clearview creates a virtual enterprise repository designed to federate, aggregate, and enhance the organization of SharePoint Server sites, or third party content or document repositories across an organization. With the simple-to-use, intuitive Clearview desktop experience, information workers can easily gain security controlled access to their allowed content across the enterprise. This level of content federation and organization has never before been available in the mid-market.

Clearview Software invites AIIM Conference & Expo attendees to explore the innovative Clearview ECM solution at Booth #2658 and the Microsoft Partner Pavilion, where personal demonstrations of Clearview 4 will be performed. Additional information can also be found at: www.clearviewecm.com.