ECM: Transition to content services continues
SpringCM is recognized for its capabilities in contract management but it also provides a document management system, workflow, and is beta testing its AI solution, which uses natural language processing (NLP) to extract entities and associate them with customer attributes. Its smart redlining tool allows consolidation of inputs from multiple reviewers. “By integrating new technologies like AI into content services applications, we’re transforming how businesses process information and make decisions,” said Erik Severinghaus, senior VP of strategy for SpringCM. “Companies used to prioritize content storage, but now that solutions can automatically manage workflows, businesses can actively use their content in context to better serve customers. For example, instead of spending time tracking down the most recent version of a file, employees can focus on extracting information from the document to use for decision making.”
Key features of content services
The application described for contract management represents one example of the steady move toward “content services” and away from the concept of ECM as a static repository, as described by Gartner in 2016. Several key points make content services different from traditional ECM. “A primary distinction is the shift away from a centralized, standardized repository to a decentralized method of surfacing content,” said Michael Woodbridge, senior director analyst at Gartner.
Other changes relate to how the information is used and the underlying philosophy. “Rather than focusing on administration and control, the focus is on using content proactively to provide insights and satisfy actual business demand,” continued Woodbridge. “Instead of having ECM be an obligation that users had to fulfill by organizing and tagging content, the information is made visible and helpful to users. Finally, content services is not about huge projects with a long list of requirements, but about faster time to value through no-code or low-code tools that allow a much quicker implementation.”
Content as a resource, not a burden
The shift was not sudden, but had been going on in an evolutionary way for some time. “Some practitioners contended that they were already using content proactively and extracting value from it,” observed David Jones, VP of product marketing at Nuxeo, which offers a content services platform designed to integrate with other ECM systems, business applications, and cloud storage. “However, they were often building systems to solve document-centric problems such as invoice processing or HR file management. Many were doing a good job at it, but all too often ECM in general was seen as a solution to solve the problems that content caused within the organization, not something that provided value.”
Rather than using a model focused on documents and their typical metadata, Nuxeo allows for many different concepts of entities. “For example, a marketing brochure can be an entity, and various translations can be the metadata,” explained Jones. “With a CRM system, it’s all about data, and content was secondary, while the opposite was true for ECM. We treat content and data as equals, so that the type of file or object is as valuable as the content of the file and can be interacted with in as many ways.”