Build More Powerful Search Atop ECM

My latest on searchcontentmanagement:

We know from painful experience that enterprise content management (ECM) software often fails to deliver on search capabilities, at least in the direct cause-and-effect way that vendors promise. But as long you start with the appropriate building blocks, an ECM system can become a powerful search tool.

The first step is to broaden your perspective to encompass more than just the ECM repository. Although the search capabilities that come with ECM applications are optimized to return results from within their own stack, you undoubtedly have a lot of content that resides elsewhere: in your finance and human resources applications, on shared drives and individual PCs, etc. This information is no less important than the information in the repository, so you should include it in your thinking.

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ECM Objects in Mirror Are Further Than They Appear

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.

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East or West, ECM is ECM

I’m halfway through a week of meetings here in Hong Kong, and today I was struck by the fact that, different though the landscape is than what I’m used to back in Boston, there is much I find familiar.

There are cars, trucks, and buses – but they drive on the left side of the road. There are street signs and neon signs and stop signs – but they are written in Chinese as well as English. There’s a subway system with color-coded multiple lines – but it’s very quiet and kept swept clean.

And there are issues of information management and user adoption and compliance – but those are pretty much what they are at home.

I tell you this because the sit-downs I’m having with folks in academia, government and industry here in Asia are confirming my long-standing suspicion that the keys to success in ECM, BPM, and all the other ‘M’s are universal:

  • business needs must be clearly understood to ensure a sound technology decision is made
  • human factors are more important than technical functionality to maximizing value
  • controlled and standardized vocabularies are vital to both findability and interoperability
  • having policies is the best policy

This isn’t to say that there aren’t differences between East and West, or even between from Hong Kong and Singapore and Malaysia. But as far as I can tell, these manifest themselves more in the details than the broadstrokes – just as they do in departments of an enterprise rather than the overall operation.

So perhaps it’s not that different after all!