Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems manage corporate data on a larger scale than other ‘community’ offerings such as WordPress can handle, and improve the workflow for its users. This segment, which spans way beyond just web content management by handling corporate data throughout its entire lifecycle forms a multibillion market, is serviced by a great deal of some of the largest players in the software industry.
An ECM system can be composed of dozens of different applications and services each addressing a specific need, and acts both as a data warehouse and a document warehouse. Integration is also a vital characteristic in enterprise content management, and the one that provides the core for the kind workflow optimization that sustains the ECM market. The latter is pushed by a number of key players, notably Microsoft Sharepoint, the open-source Alfresco and EMC’s Documentum.
The Microsoft Sharepoint multi-purpose platform is perhaps the most prominent presence in the enterprise content management industry. The platform enables the management of intranet portals, extranets and websites as well as files and documents. SharePoint also offers quite a bit of integration w ith social networking and collaboration features, enterprise search and BI tooling. Plus, one of the more significant benefits the platforms offers to companies is the level of customisation available – SharePoint can be used as a web development environment, and supports custom branding and the installation of 3rd party apps.
Another functionality that can be attributed to Microsoft’s offering is scalability; something it shares with its open-source rival and the second key industry player covered in this post: Alfresco. Alfresco Enterprise Edition is designed to offer a great deal of flexibility and extendibility, and offers web portal, file, document and web content management features as well as plenty of others. Among them is a content repository, a browser-based GUI (which is somewhat similar in nature to cloud-based Office 365 and BPOS versions of Sharepoint) and repository-level versioning. Alfresco supports multiple databases and platforms, and can be extended with add-ons and third party offerings.
Amidst the digital data explosion, scalability and integration are two of the most important core elements in order for enterprise content management system to optimise users’ workflow. Storage company EMC has been particularly active in both the cloud and big data segments, and its Documentum ECM offering puts an emphasis on both. EMC acquired Documentum for $1.7 billion in 2003, and the platform is now a part of its Information Intelligence Group business unit.
Documentum is OS and database agnostic, and stores content on a file storage system and content metadata in any database, and provides a suite of offerings covering a very broad spectrum. That includes document & web content management, business process management, collaboration, search, compliance and archiving.
There are a lot of ECM offerings out there, but in the end, it all depends on a given company’s needs. This is why flexibility is always a must for an ECM platform – that is, if it’s worth all that customisation in the first place.