While a concept like that of enterprise content management might come off as abstract, one of the important things in getting a grasp for what different kind of business software actually do is understanding that many of those systems are built to address business-related issues that have already existed since before there was a concept of software or personal computers. The core of the modern CRM solution, for example, is an iteration on what Rolodexes and address books did for decades: keep track of someone’s contacts and clients in a centralized, easily accessible location. Enterprise Content Management, or ECM, is no different.
What ECM does for an enterprise, however, is slightly more holistic in nature. Think of all the paperwork–physical or digitized it takes to keep a business operational on a day-to-day basis: internal documents, customer-facing forms, manuals and guides, even emails and individual files on a shared network folder. All of those fall under the jurisdiction of an ECM system, as unstructured data (which is a technical term for ancillary documents like .PDFs, emails, blog posts and text files) to be captured, centrally stored, indexed and managed (in the same way a smaller-scale Content Management System would manage all the content to be published or underpinning a website) as part of a coherent workflow.
If it sounds a bit abstract, that’s because it is. ECM is as much a component of overall business strategy as it is a technological solution. If the nature of unstructured data implies chaos, then a ECM system strives to wring order (or at least value) out of that chaos.
As mentioned earlier, ECM is as much a business strategy as a technological fix, but here are three of the top ECM solutions available on the market today:
IBM’s ECM solution features full suites for content management, social content management and, most importantly for unstructured data, content capture functionality. Content capture allows for the scanning and uploading of physical records as well as the display of those records as image or .PDF files, an invaluable tool especially for organizations in the midst of a conversion to a paperless workplace.
Microsoft SharePoint ECM
Sharepoint has been around for awhile, and has had a funny history from its debut in 2001 to its current 2010 build. Originally released as a basic CMS solution, it’s since expanded in size and purpose to include many WMS features and, more recently, aspects of enterprise social. Sharepoint ECM focuses heavily on the compliance side, emphasizing its version control and document auditing features.
EMC Documentum ECM
As the company primarily known for its cloud-based Atmos big data storage service, EMC knows a thing or two about handling reams upon reams (think petabytes) of unstructured data. Documentum brings data sorting and indexing as well as analytical insights to both on-premise data and data silo’ed offsite in the cloud.
To find other top ECM solutions other than the big three, Business-Software.com offers a Top 10 ECM report which compares pricing, key features and delivery models of the best enterprise content management solutions in the industry. For additional resources, the CMS resource center provides extra reading material such as articles, blog posts and reports to browse in order to research and harness the world’s information on ECM.