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ECM expands its reach

The OpenText application used by the G-20 participants reflects three priorities in today's ECM market: social networking, mobility and cloud technology. "The cloud is a major factor for ECM," says Lubor Ptacek, VP of product marketing at OpenText. "Many organizations need elastic storage and do not want to invest in infrastructure for what might be a temporary requirement." OpenText is also developing specific solutions for business problems, such as the one experienced by the G-20 group.

On the social front, several approaches based on OpenText are possible. "OpenText has Pulse, which can be added to an existing deployment and is similar to Facebook for the enterprise," says Ptacek. "Social Workplace can be used as a standalone product, and finally, we can add a social component to an existing marketing website or product services site."

Identify the problem

Some organizations search for a software product too soon, without fully understanding their requirements, and Ptacek strongly encourages them to resist the urge. "There is no business problem called ‘I need an ECM suite,'" he emphasizes. "The problem may be a poor customer experience online, or inadequate management of records that leaves the company ill-prepared for litigation, but it is essential to start with a specific problem. Once that problem is solved, finding solutions to other problems becomes easier because the foundation is in place."

ECM is a mature technology in many respects, but still has room for significant advances. "Like the interstate highway system, much of the infrastructure is in place," says Lee Dallas, blogger for Big Men on Content and solution architect with EMC's Information Intelligence Group. "Now, organizations must turn their focus to the on and off ramps that manifest their content through mobile devices, social networking, collaboration and so on."

Direct from the cloud

When content management needs are relatively simple, an extended range of features can get in the way, adding unnecessary cost and complexity. Box.net was founded to provide an easy and inexpensive way for users to store, retrieve, manage and share content in the cloud. "Box has the right feature set for 90 percent of user needs," says Whitney Tidmarsh Bouck, enterprise general manager at Box. "Because it is so easy to get started, Box initially appealed to small and midsize companies. But now large organizations are starting to see it as an option that complements their other systems."

Box is designed for sharing so-called "content of engagement," rather than content of record. "The normal use case is the sharing of files with co-workers who are collaborating on projects," says Bouck. "Box provides a persistent knowledge hub with a single source of truth." By doing so through the cloud, Box saves users from sending files back and forth via e-mail, a cumbersome and error-prone process.

At AARP, the editorial production manager uses Box to track articles for the AARP Bulletin as they move through the production process from writers to editors, artists and layout staff. Box is also used for collaboration with external editors of the AARP magazine so that multiple individuals can work on the same document and know that they are using the latest version. In addition, key resource files are stored in Box so that employees have access to them from any location.

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