Over a year ago I wrote about Why ECM is critical to your Enterprise 2.0 Execution Plan. I wrote then about the pitfalls of closed content management processes:
If you’re a large organization using enterprise content management systems (ECM), chances are that its powering images, documents and records management, and web content. These systems enforce roles, workflows, access control and versioning to enable the creation, management and dissemination of media assets.
What this means is that from the very beginning of a given business activity, a few people control the creation of information that employees, customers, partners and suppliers rely on to move your business forward. Like it or not, this puts the responsibility/power to influence business performance in the hands of a few, with little input from other unknown experts, or consumers of this data. You only find out how effective the content turned out to be once its consumed (and long after you can optimize).
I had also reached out to Billy Cripe, then a Director in Oracles Enterprise 2.0 group and now a VP at Fishbowl Solutions. We identified overarching inefficiencies in Content Management where social and collaborative concepts can help:
Now its 2011 and as we see more business challenges emerge, there’s more to be said about the inefficiency of excessively locking down the creation, management and dissemination of content. To summarize:
Context: “One man’s food is another man’s poison”. A central taxonomy can never account for varied and dynamic usage scenarios of each digital asset. Every asset has a different purpose for, say, a sales, marketing, product management and service professional. When you let content flow through social and collaborative metaphors, its amazing how each of us can fulfill our unique consumption use cases.
Data Association: Systems Integration to associate events and data from ERP/CRM/SCM systems to ECM content is extremely expensive and static. You get IT to make a customization and then go back to the end of the line when you need another one. As a result we have limited system scaling to meet evolving business requirements. In contrast, integrating people does bring scale and can serve as a far more effective glue between events that need action and content/documents/digital assets that can help you take an optimal course of action.
Enterprise Search: Know anyone working at a large company that loves their enterprise search functionality? Yeah, me neither. It’s time we give people a shot at recommending the right content and documents. For that we need a social layer that sits atop enterprise content management to offer contextual meta data.
The solution still remains the same: Infuse Content and Document Management with Social and Collaborative approaches to get the best minds to contribute, vet, validate and recommend digital assets in the context of varied business activities.
Microsoft SharePoint has seen a majority of the social platform integration effort, thus far. Oracle has its own content, portal and collaboration components systematically meshed together. And I have other examples in my previous post.
This morning Jive Software, Alfresco Software, and SolutionSet announced that they have collaborated to turn content, documents and digital assets into social objects. Jive offers the social components, Alfresco does the Content Management heavy lifting, and SolutionSet, (the most experienced social software SI you’ve likely never heard of) engineered the connecter that makes this happen. This integration enables bi-directional content creation, editing and management. Per Matt Tucker, CTO and founder of Jive:
“Alfresco provides a proven enterprise content management system. Jive taps into the Alfresco system to ‘socialize’ the content, facilitate collaboration, and make it available in the activity stream. Access and interaction with Alfresco content becomes seamless in Jive. This makes content management more searchable, ratable, likable, commentable, and most importantly, more social.”
I don’t generally cover software announcements on this blog but when I see an attempt to combine content, process and people in an effort to contextualize work (as opposed to social for social’s sake), I consider it a meaningful effort towards performance acceleration – something I do write a lot about.
The devil is in the details when it comes to making two systems talk to each other. But what’s neat is that this connector is not about just adding comments and ratings to documents. It proposes to enable broad collaboration when it comes to the creation, validation or approval of content and digital assets.
We see a growing need for this in our work: Talk to most executives at large organizations and they will quietly admit that content creation budgets have become a “black hole” over the last decade. What’s worse, it’s extremely challenging to find a way to get off the spending treadmill or know which efforts truly provide value. Such integration can now federate the creation and uses of content to reduce significant risk, give you crowd sourced insight into top performing assets, and promote new applicability for a very expensive line item in the operating budget of many many large organizations.
Kudos to all involved.