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Outstanding questions regarding ECM

January 18, 2006

James McGovern has raised some very pertinent questions about ECM. I’ve been thinking about them and here are my views on some of those.

Several vendors have came up with the notion of eContent Integration (ECI) that sit on top of ECM platforms. Many vendors in this space are now being acquired. The real question is whether the ECI layer can/should be replaced with say JSR-170. Any thoughts on the pros/cons of using JSR-170 vs ATOM vs SCA vs JBI for this type of functionality?

I think there is a market for ECI vendors like Venetica and Context Media as well as other approaches for content integration like JSR 170. Technically, they can be thought of doing similar things. However, more than technical, there are business and political reasons for both to co-exist and it depends on whose side you are on. For example, let’s say a customer has Interwoven as well as Vignette along with other applications. If Interwoven partners with Venetica (this partnership actually existed), it is giving its customers the ability to use Interwoven in a bigger way because they can still use Interwoven for content management and Venetica to integrate with other products. However, if Interwoven chooses to use JSR 170 instead, it means it is letting other products pull stuff from Interwoven’s JSR 170 compliant repository. In such a scenario, customer can actually use Vignette for managing content and using JSR 170 to pull out data from Interwoven, thereby reducing Interwoven’s scope. So, in one approach, Interwoven gets more share whereas in the other, Vignette gets more share. Hence, if you are an ECM product vendor, you would prefer to acquire (as IBM and Oracle have done) or partner (as Interwoven and Filenet do) with an ECI vendor. However, if you are a customer of multiple ECM products, or are a product vendor that needs to integrate with ECM products, you would want to have ECM products support standards like JSR 170 so that your applications can talk to ECM products.

Secondly, I also think that ECI products have much broader capabilities than JSR 170. For example, WebSphere Information Integrator (formerly, Venetica) can get content from not only ECM repositories but also from Microsoft Index server, NTFS and other sources. In fact, I would think that these ECI products can use JSR 170 as one of the ways for accessing content from JSR compliant repositories.
BTW, Interwoven and Vignette have been taken as random examples here and we can substitute them with any products.

How should ECM ideally integrate with MS Office tools? I know I can use MS Word add-ins to create blog entries but does this make sense in the long run?

I am personally not a fan of this as a philosophy because of reasons mentioned here. However, there are quite a few products that integrate with Office tools. For example, using Fatwire, one can create assets (for example, a Press Release) using MS Word. Fatwire basically lets you define styles which map to different fields (columns in database table) like headline, byline, author and so on. So, you basically create an article in MS Word and apply these styles. When you save, Fatwire picks up the text defined in style “headline” and puts it in article table’s “headline” column. It does similarly with other styles. I think other products also do something similar but I’m not too familiar with those.
In summary though, it is a trade off between giving users more power and keeping format separate from content.

How should one incorporate the notion of trackback within an enterprise content approach?

This is very interesting. How about a content item sending a trackback ping to other articles saying that it has been updated! Or how about a German article sending a trackback ping to its equivalent English article? There are many possibilities and I think its a very good concept.

The ECM space doesn’t seem to be growing. What are Venture Capitalists considering investing in that would cause future growth?

I would tend to disagree here. Even if you do not believe analysts (who have predicted big random number growths), there are other signs that show this market is growing. I work with a large Indian SI and we get queries from all major clients in different domains. If these inqueries are anything to go by, I would think that ECM is going to be big.
Secondly, as I’ve mentioned here, there is a big ECM market emerging in markets like Asia as well.

How should an ECM strategy think about combining Ajax and CMS?

There’s some stuff about this here and here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 18, 2006 6:08 pm

    Good piece, also worth considering ECI in the context of repository consolidation and migration. One of the biggest drivers at present for the growth of ECM is rationalizing the number of repositories one managesm, particularly when faced by a major upgrade. More and more I believe are considering moving content to the database, and for IBM and Oracle making these migrations as painless as possible is key.

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