Taking AIIM at the ECM Market

The 2003 AIIM Enterprise Content Management conference in New York City April 7-9 shed light on some emerging themes in the ECM market. Not surprising given the times, heavy emphasis was placed on using ECM to help customers handle regulatory compliance issues along with offering module-based solutions that allow customers to buy only the components they need now, then build on that initial purchase down the road.

One idea that pervaded the show was that the current economic climate has forced ECM companies to look for ways to quantify their value to customers over and above their obvious ability to control and manage content. In order to justify the cost of a content management system, ECM companies emphasized the idea of using their products to help with compliance and accountability issues including external legal requirements such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as taking advantage of their ability to track and quantify productivity internally through workflow and other reporting capabilities. ECM companies discussed justifying ROI for their product, as well as providing a way to track ROI in-house for other projects not necessarily directly related to content management.

One company that has taken this approach is iManage. According to their president and CEO, Mahmood Panjwani, content and collaboration speaks to productivity gains in a poor economic climate. He says, "The amount of work is not going down, so how do you do more with less?" He discussed how reporting capabilities allow decision-makers to put structures in place that provide more accountability and tracking.

What's more, with regulators looking for systems that show companies are practicing due diligence around regulatory requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in finance and HIPAA in healthcare. iManage's Panjwani believes productivity and accountability are part of the same issue. Panjwani says, "The problem is the regulators are taking a leadership role. We've been exploring this and we offer the ability for the user to participate in the accountability exercise."

Brett MacIntyre, vice president of content management at IBM has recently encountered a whole new category of job titles like "Chief Compliance Officer," which he believes is a clear response to the recent spate of corporate compliance legislation. This legislation, he says, "is driving the need for compliant solutions."

Another clear theme that emerged was that customers want to take it slow. ECM vendors are designing modular products that allow customers to purchase only the pieces they need right now, but which give them the ability to build on an initial investment by adding components and as they become more confident in the solution and budgets that provide room for bigger purchases. For instance Leif E. Pedersen, vice president of Vignette said the company's latest suite offers "multiple entry points," as does FileNet, who offers "multiple entry points to provide a variety of pathways that customers can build on," according to Nick Tuson, director of product marketing.

As the economic downturn enters its second year, it's clear that ECM vendors are looking for a way to make their solutions more palatable for customers. By providing a clear path to measure ROI and accountability, and giving customers the ability to start small and build up, they are finding ways to keep the business growing until the economy turns around.

(www.filenet.com; www.ibm.com; www.imanage.com; www.vignette.com)