Over the past several weeks, it’s been my pleasure to participate in a TweetJam and a couple of podcasts with my friends at SearchContentManagement.com and Word of Pie on the current state and immediate future of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), especially as it relates to electronic file-sharing services and the cloud. This run of analytical and speculative reporting has been both enlightening and fun, and it has cemented a belief that I’ve held for a couple of years now:
The transformative welter of ECM/EIM/governance goodness we’ve been expecting to overtake us for years remains in the mirror, and is further away than it appears to be.
Why do I say this? Because every year at this time I get calls from reporters and clients asking “Will next year be the year [insert technology here] finally explodes?” – and every year I find myself having to answer with a resounding NO.
This is true regardless of the technology being discussed, and the reason is that the functional, economic, and usability advances being made are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Even the cloud – or should I say, THE CLOUD – hasn’t been as disruptive as it was made out to be only a short time ago. It’s a great alternative for many organizations, but it hasn’t yanked information management in an entirely new direction because it’s fundamentally just a new economic and technical model for hosting, and hosting isn’t new.
The thing is, transiting the path of process and information betterment is a journey, and there’s no new technology that is going to suddenly expose some unseen shortcut. Advances in usability, interoperability, and practicability certainly smooth our way, but the key to maximizing the total value of our information and information infrastructure lies in our ability to understand and target our business needs – something that has nothing, really, to do with technology.
So make no mistake: “next year” – whenever that year comes – will not bring us a magic bullet to use to solve all of our governance problems in one shot. There’s plenty of ammunition available now and certainly more on the way, but the long-expected and hoped-for objects of transformation likely will never get closer than they are right now.