Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Social ECM – It’s not about the Technology

image Social ECM is a wave that is still forming. All of the elements are there, but the wave is still offshore and building. When it reaches shallow water and starts to peak there will be no stopping it. A key point to keep in mind is the first part of this term – Social – and realize that the intent will be to help people extend, maintain, and manage their content on a much more personal level while maintaining the integrity of the corporate assets.

imageMuch like Lance Armstrong said in his book “It’s Not about the Bike” in Social ECM it’s NOT about the technology. However, with that said the underlying technology will play a critical role in the speed at which the innovation occurs and also in the way solutions are designed, developed, and deployed.

The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market went thru a similar shift over the past 12 months or so with thought leaders like Brian Solis (PR2.0), Jeremiah Owyang(Web Strategy / Altimeter Group), and Filiberto Selvas (SocialCRM.net) leading the charge towards Social CRM.

This post is intended to help developers and non-developers seek out the tools that are available today to help them realize their vision of Social ECM solutions. I cannot guess what some of these extremely talented and creative people have in mind. I would not have envisioned a micro-blogging service that has the reach of Twitter or the need for an easy to build fan site like those created on WetPaint.

Will Open Source Software Power this Revolution?

I think the answer is yes. At least initially. Open Source Software (OSS) has several inherent features that will help drive innovation on a broad scale. Not the least of which is that it’s (mostly) free. Which will allow developers the opportunity to be creative and to quickly capitalize on niche segments of the market – and to create whole new segments that define Social ECM.

imageThere are too many variations and technologies to mention here, but suffice it to say that the Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (also known as The LAMP Stack) will play a significant role.

What role will Microsoft’s SharePoint play?

Microsoft’s SharePoint will play a role --- initially with the “free” Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) offerings. At the SharePoint Conference it was announced that WSS is being replaced / supersized to become SharePoint Foundation 2010.

SharePoint Foundation 2010 will still allow for the creation of low cost solutions that will predominantly be built by partners. This is where Microsoft has a unique opportunity to pump up their partner channel. I’m seeing efforts to make this happen, but there is MUCH more to do to inspire and encourage the partner ecosystem. Why will partners care? Because of the 1:3:5 Ratio and confirmed by IDC this week. Social ECM might bring together a new breed of partner.

How will OSS and non-OSS Solutions Play together?

Integration --- they will play together because customers will demand it. Smart developers will create hooks and have open API’s that allow for broad scale innovation. Smart solutions providers (nee creators) will extend and enhance OSS and non-OSS platforms to create new and innovative Social ECM solutions to hit the ground running.

imageSocial Media and ECM solutions will continue to converge. There will become much less of a line in the sand between OSS and non-OSS solutions. The talented and visionary developers, solutions architects, and end users will create things that that meet both business and technology needs. proving again that in Social ECM it’s not about the technology.

My ECM is Social

While it’s true that Social ECM will be powered by the underlying technology the real power of Social ECM will be in the hands of the people. Some might argue that’s not where it belongs and to some extent I agree with those that say corporate assets need to managed in a predictable and repeatable manner. My response is to recommend using the tools available to empower the people. Let developers and solution architects create solutions that work the way people want to work. The end result will be that content becomes much easier to capture, manage, process, and archive.

What do you think?

  • Will traditional ECM morph into Social ECM – much like CRM did?
  • What are your examples of Social ECM?
  • What will be the first successful implementation of Social ECM?  Is it already out there?

Comments, Critiques, Questions? Please post them in the comment section or contact me via one of the other means below. I really do want to hear what you have to say. I’m always up for a healthy debate and/or some collaboration too.

clip_image002About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at
Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

** I am available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. My areas of emphasis are business development and alliance management where Social Media and Enterprise Content Management intersect.

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