What is enterprise content management?
Enterprise content management (ECM) refers to the processes, strategies, tools, and platforms an organization uses to manage its content. The term itself includes different components like:
- document management
- file and records management
- capture and scanning
- web content management
- digital asset management (DAM)
- workflow automation
- collaboration tools.
The definition and idea of enterprise content management continue to evolve. In 2010, it focused primarily on documents and other content. The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) recently evolved the term into Intelligent Information Management (IIM). It accounts for the way data contained within documents can be captured, analyzed, and used for better-informed decision-making.
Today, if you search online, you’ll likely find different organizations defining ECM in different ways. Why?
The simplest answer is that today there is so much content. And so much more that we can do with it.
- Website content supports marketing, sales, customer service, and brand initiatives.
- Marketing content engages online and also includes files for physical material printed, used for events (like banners), and more.
- Business content like invoices, sales orders, contracts, and more contain valuable information and require time and effort to manage, extract data, and file.
- Customer service content features instructions, drivers, and other content your customers use with your product or service.
These are only a few examples. You can certainly identify more.
To really understand enterprise content management, we need to understand:
- Why an enterprise would need it
- The goals
- The benefits
- Its role in the content lifecycle
- The different types of documents
- The common elements of an enterprise content management system
- How to choose the right one
- How to implement a system that has so many varied components
Why an enterprise would need an ECM system
Enterprises have so much content. Individual departments produce reams (to borrow a term from the heyday of paper-based content). It can be hard for people in a department to manage and keep their own content organized.
With all this content, it’s nearly impossible for different departments and teams to know what content is available outside of the one that created it. And that’s a problem an enterprise content management system can solve.
An ECM isn’t just about storing content. It’s about making it usable. By tagging each piece of content with meta-data (searchable information about the content), it becomes “find-able” by anyone with access to the area where it resides.
Suddenly, information becomes available, usable, and more easily shared. Plus, the content can be tracked to meet compliance and information governance standards. And management of documents throughout their entire lifecycle becomes more automated, simplifying document retention policy management and enforcement.
For some enterprises, an ECM system makes business intelligence possible. Advanced data capture solutions extract the data from your documents for analysis, transforming documents and content into business intelligence.
So, why would an enterprise want an ECM? Perhaps the simplest answer is business agility.
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