ECM Sheds its Skin

Gartner recently announced the death of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) and the birth of Content Services! In his blog, Gartner Research Director Michael Woodbridge describes this more as a change in definition, and it’s clear from the supporting Gartner notes that this change in definition reflects a broader scope in a changing marketplace.

No technology market changes overnight or in isolation, but it’s refreshing to see Gartner frequently refer to this change as an evolution. However you phrase it – death, change, or evolution – let’s examine this transformation from managed content to “content services.”

Content is very much alive
Any snake owner will tell you (perhaps more than you want to know) about the rich process that takes place when a snake sheds its skin. I’m referring to the cliché we use to describe transformation in positive terms as a kind of renewal, just like the skin-changing process so vital to a snake’s survival and healthy growth. This doesn’t happen instantly and if you know the signs you can see the change coming.

Significant financial investment, resources, and time have been devoted to enterprise content management systems over the years. Much like a snake’s belly begins to turn color days before it actually begins to shed, the ECM market has also long indicated a need for this change. For example, going some ways back, there’s this quote from Alan Paterson, author of Office Systems: Planning, Procurement, and Implementation (1985):

Storage can be achieved easily…the difficulty lies…not so much in storage, but in how to manage the vast masses of knowledge in an orderly form and reasonable response times.

Quite apt for today’s enterprise content management systems, search and retrieval help surface content and fuel insights, especially with the growth of enterprise data and changes Google has made related to its Search Application. This is only one specific use case around content, but this need and others like it have always mattered.

What is Content Services?
According to Gartner, Content Services are a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.

Why should you care?
It’s really about time we had new definition in this market. ECM-centric systems and processes have resulted in key gaps that hinder the delivery of true business value around content. Generic ECM systems often lack the user experience around the content lifecycle, which can impact adoption and therefore maximum benefit in the investment. To maximize the return on investment for any enterprise system, successful initiatives driven by visionary business leaders should think differently as they shop for new platforms. Many already do.

The focus on function and features, by way of Content Services, paves the way to a better overall user experience within a managed context. This directly improves adoption and return on investment for embedded enterprise systems. Woodbridge (2017) describes four historical ECM goals to help explain how we got here:

  • Regulatory compliance and risk management
  • Retention and dissemination of business knowledge
  • Cost and process efficiencies
  • Innovation and new ways of working

While ECM excelled at meeting the first goal, the others proved more challenging and outcomes included some less than perfect user experiences.

Where does Quark fit in?
Quark leadership saw the opportunity for content services and content automation almost ten years ago. Moving beyond the traditional ECM approach of managing files through a process, content automation is about extending from content creation to content delivery via reusable content components. The result is a modernized technical architecture with a rich RESTful API infrastructure and a focus on usability for subject matter experts. Allowing expert end users to “just write” as they produce content within a managed workflow and remove the typical distractions of copy/paste, formatting, email-based review processes, and duplication of effort are benefits enjoyed by many Quark customers.

Successful adoption of the Quark Enterprise Soltutions has enabled significant business value for many industry verticals:

  • Banks around the world can ensure their tellers have up to the minute geo-specific content for their customers
  • Information products focused on industry research expand the market for thought leadership and drive new product channels focused on targeted, engaging high-value communications for content consumers
  • Major global players connect donors to economic development projects thanks to timely, personalized, and automated delivery of narrative content and relevant data
  • Governmental organizations enjoy modernized, automated process around collaborative review of emerging policy to deliver end results in a fraction of the time

Learn more about the Quark content automation platform and how it can help expand the business value of your content. And, just like every time my snake sheds her skin, I am looking forward to radiant new colors as the content industry continues to embrace this trend.