High-powered ECM platforms do the job
Three large companies now account for more than half the revenues in the enterprise content management (ECM) market, according to Gartner. IBM, Open Text and EMC are the revenue leaders, with Oracle and Microsoft showing rapid growth. Those companies provide not just document management but also the infrastructure to manage content across a wide range of applications.
"The broader components of an ECM system are important when an organization has more complex content management applications," says Ken Chin, research VP at Gartner. ECM systems can be used to manage content for numerous other applications, including e-mail archiving, records management (RM), customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
Energen is a diversified energy holding company with headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. One of its two lines of business is the acquisition, development and exploration of domestic, onshore natural gas and oil reserves. The other is natural gas distribution in central and north Alabama through Alabama Gas Corp. In the natural gas business, records have a long life. Government regulations require that service lines, which are typically buried underground, be tracked for the life of the corporation. Other aspects of energy production are also highly regulated, so Energen needed a robust document and records management system.
One criterion for selection was the ability to integrate well with SAP, the ERP system used by Energen. Another was the ability to manage very large volumes of data, because Energen wanted to archive all of the e-mails it sends and receives for the required retention period.
"We thought about having the system or our workers decide selectively whether a given e-mail was a record," says Brunson White, CIO of Energen. "But we wanted to be absolutely sure we had every communication that we would need, so to be safe, we are storing everything for seven years."
Energen selected Ixos, a well-known archiving system that was tightly integrated with SAP. Ixos was subsequently purchased by Open Text, and Energen has migrated its data to the Open Text ECM Suite. Initially, Energen tested out the system with a departmental document management application in the corporate tax department, which has a relatively small volume of records. "When that transition went smoothly," says White, "we went on to applications with greater volumes of data."
The service records had been maintained on paper, some dating back to the 1890s. "The declining quality of the paper was one of the motivators for us to get the records scanned," White says. "Interestingly, the old paper was durable—some of it even contained cotton as a component. But after the 1920s, sulphur and acid were contained in the paper, and it was starting to fall apart."
Those records were scanned into a small-scale document management system, and later the TIFF images were imported into Open Text’s system. "That was our first really large application," White says. "It has half a million records."
In expanding its content management system, Energen looks for applications that are either high-impact, high ROI or both. The e-mail archiving system now stores 26 million messages, the total for five years.
"We will add two more years, and then we can start dropping off the oldest years because the retention is seven years," White explains. "These are documents we need both for compliance and litigation support."
The archiving system takes out duplicate copies of e-mails and attachments, reducing the total storage space required. In Energen’s accounts payable system, invoices are scanned and the rest of the process is automated through SAP’s workflow, with the documents stored in the Open Text ECM system.
Use of Open Text technology has allowed Energen to consolidate multiple applications so that all the content is stored in Open Text, with workflow and authorization handled by SAP.
"Going forward, we will continue to look for additional high-impact, high-ROI opportunities," White says. "We have a good level of comfort on scalability and robustness—once it’s set up, it is extremely stable."
According to Lubor Ptacek, VP for product management at Open Text, "Most organizations now understand that they have a lot of content, that it’s growing at a relentless pace and that it must be managed. There are multiple goals in doing so: operational efficiency, reaching more customers, compliance and many others."
In addition, capturing and storing the knowledge assets of baby boomers who are moving into retirement has become a goal for some companies. "The Open Text ECM Suite has all the pieces, layers of integration, libraries and other components to meet the requirements for a wide range of content management initiatives," Ptacek says.
Greater control for content owners
When you look at a Google map, you may not know that the data comes from a company called Tele Atlas. In fact, maps used in numerous digital applications, from global positioning systems (GPS) to systems that enable routing for emergency vehicles, are likely to come from Tele Atlas. The company provides digital maps of 200 countries and has offices all over the world.
Tele Atlas maintains an intranet with information for its employees and a number of public Web sites in different languages. The content was stored in databases and folders, and could be updated only with intervention by the IT department. Several years ago, Tele Atlas began looking for a more sophisticated system to keep the sites up to date. A primary goal was to allow internal business users to be able to update content.
The solution selected by Tele Atlas was Universal Content Management (UCM) from Oracle, which at that time was Stellent’s product, but is now owned by Oracle and integrated into its ECM product line.
"One of the best things that happened with the transition to UCM was to separate content from development," says Pradeep Bokinala, senior domain manager of IT Global Business Applications at Tele Atlas. "As a result, business users who are content owners can now change the content without intervention by IT."
The repository is used to store and publish information such as newsletters, departmental data and content for Web sites. "Oracle’s UCM is able to support multilingual Web pages," Bokinala adds. "We support several languages in our partner extranet and company Web site, and the new system allowed us to streamline that process."
Business users can develop content in Excel or Microsoft Word and publish it to UCM. "The UCM system can parse the content and make it available as a Web page or PDF," Bokinala explains.
More recently, the UCM system has been expanded to include blogging and RSS feeds, Web 2.0 capabilities that are supporting collaboration and more rapid dissemination of information.