Putting DM into CM: Smarter Information Management

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In The Mix
The vendors' perception that companies want to do more with their information, their data, their documents, or their content—whatever the company might call the intellectual property that it has—is part of what's driving the mix in the document management marketplace. As the mix churns, the terms that customers and vendors use turn and tumble, as well. Buyers and vendors are locked into a feedback loop that will continue to cycle, and affect the industry, for years to come.

Kevin Cochrane, VP of product marketing at Interwoven, doesn't favor one term over another, but when asked about what is happening with document management, he talks of a marriage, bringing document management into the family of content management. According to Cochrane, what the industry is witnessing is a union driven by the customer's desire to unite multiple content streams, such as documents and Web content or Web content and collaboration capabilities.

He says that now that the economy is showing signs of a strong recovery, CEOs are looking for ways to wield content to build their businesses. Plus, customers want to be able to do more with content—all kinds of content—and to develop solutions that let them evaluate content in context rather than as standalone pieces of data.

It was the desire to blend disparate content sources and improve its customer service capabilities that motivated BT, one of Europe's biggest telecommunications companies to use Interwoven's ECM platform, wedded to the BEA WebLogic Portal. The end result is a massive portal that serves customers, staff, and suppliers.

Bill James, eChannels director for BT Retail, was faced with the challenge of finding a way to make better use of the information in 600 internal and 350 external sites, plus to better serve its more than 20 million business and residential customers. "Our goal is to make it easier for customers to do business with us online. By helping us transform BT.com into an integrated, automated, and easy-to-use sales and eservice environment." He chose an Interwoven solution. According to James, "Interwoven is enabling us to achieve excellent customer satisfaction results while reducing our transaction costs."

FileNet favors the term ECM, with heavy emphasis on the notion of enterprise intelligence. The company's Web site defines ECM as a "comprehensive approach to doing business that can be applied to specific processes to create decisive advantages." Electronic, scanned, and compound documents are all part of the mix of content in FileNet's take on ECM.

Lee Roberts, the company's CEO and chairman, explained FileNet's approach in a recent white paper entitled "Optimizing the Enterprise." He says, "It's vital that the right content is aggregated and that this content is delivered to the right people at the critical moment when a decision must be executed, so they have all the information necessary to make real-time decisions."

The prospect of gaining a competitive edge through informed decision-making is, no doubt, a strong motivator. If that requires that all data across the enterprise be harnessed, then so be it. No longer just document management, the terms used include the broader term content at the very least. Managing content effectively, quickly, and efficiently to profitable ends is the result many major corporations desire, no matter what term they might have started with. 

It was a desire to find a way to better manage content to better serve customers that prompted Cleveland, Ohio-based financial services company, KeyCorp, to implement an ECM solution from Mobius. The system gives 13,000 internal users access to various forms of content, including millions of check images, statements, and report pages. Through the Web, customers can access information they need, reducing the number of calls to customer services. Key estimates that finding a way to work smarter and not harder is saving the company an estimated $12 million through reductions in printing, handling, and mailing of customer documents.

RedDot describes wide-spectrum data-management needs with the term extended content management, though it also continues to use the other, more familiar terms: Web content management for content used on Web sites; and document management to describe consolidating a variety of file types—including spreadsheets, image files, and Word documents—into a single repository.

InterDoc Corporation selected RedDot's Extended Content Management Suite (XCMS) to help the company figure out how to make the most of its corporate intelligence. "Our biggest problem was that it was extremely hard for InterDoc's 30+ integration consultants to see what others were doing and organize who was doing what," according to Danny Boulanger, president and CEO of InterDoc. With the XCMS system in place, InterDoc can better manage what it already knows, plus it can keep better track of who is accessing what information and when.

Solutions Grow Up
Managing data across an enterprise might be a fine and profitable vision for major corporations such as those on the Fortune 1000 list, but the ECM concept might not make sense for smaller companies with more defined and discrete management needs (and smaller budgets). Such companies can find suitable solutions—usually by working with smaller vendors or by opting for modular solutions offered by larger vendors.

Since a full-scale implementation of an ECM system can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars—a price tag equal to the annual sales revenue of many smaller companies—some may conclude that managing more than documents is too costly an enterprise.

Not true, says Documentum's Ptacek. Even smaller companies can benefit from getting smarter about their information management. He suggests they start with a focus on solving a single problem at first, while keeping in mind the possibility that the solution can grow over time to encompass as much of the enterprise as it can. Start smart and keep working smart is the best approach. "It's better to put the infrastructure in place to handle expansion," he counsels.

The Kentucky State Police recently implemented an ECM-based solution using FileNet's Image Services, IDM Desktop, and Web services—all interconnected with an Oracle database and Captiva FormWare. This central information repository allows users to check traffic reports. About 250 officers and personnel use the system daily to process 150,000 reports annually. Not a large system, compared to some that FileNet and other companies have developed, but reports are now available in hours rather than months. Data can also be extracted in hours rather than weeks, a time savings that helps the force comply with federal reporting regulations.

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