5 Questions to Ask About Your Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

The term Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is used to describe the strategies, methods, and tools to produce, share and capture information in organizations. Humans and/or computer systems use this structured (e.g., data in databases), semi-structured (e.g., social media) and unstructured (e.g., emails) information to make decisions that can improve the organization. Since every individual/team/group/unit/department produces and consumes information thus it becomes imperative that organizations start thinking about how to provide the right information to the right audience at the right time by taking into account how information flows holistically across the organization.

Organizations need to create the right balance between humans and/or computer systems to leverage information from internal and external sources. This balance comes from the understanding that humans and computer systems are both influenced by experiences and biases. The experiences and biases in computer systems emerge when humans decide (1) which data should be used, (2) how algorithms should use the data and (3) when to accept or reject the recommendations of the computer systems.

In today’s world, Big Data has captured the imagination of most organizations and how it can help improve them. Organizations are collecting more and more data every day, writing algorithms and mining for patterns to use this data for descriptive analytics, predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics, and even Artificial Intelligence. However, if an organization’s Big Data strategy lacks an ECM mindset and does not have mature data management governance processes in place then organizations would not be able to fully release the true potential of the information they continue to produce, share and capture.

To start having an ECM mindset for Big Data, organizations need to (1) identify the different structured, semi-structured and unstructured internal/external information sources consumed and produced by the organization, (2) identify all the obstacles in the smooth flow of information and (3) train all individuals to see all data as assets to be leveraged.

First, let’s identify some of the internal and external information sources. Here is a non-exhaustive list to get started:

  • Accounting Software and Systems
  • Architecture Software and Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence Software and Systems
  • Analytics Software and systems
  • Architecture Software and Systems
  • Barcodes and Quick Response (QR) codes
  • Books and Blogs
  • Business Case Software and Systems
  • Business Development (BD) Software and Systems
  • Business Intelligence (BI) Software and Systems
  • Business Process Management (BPM) Software and Systems
  • Business, Analytics, and IT dashboards
  • Cloud, Managed Services and Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) Metrics
  • Computer Output to Laser Disc (COLD)/Electronic Report Management (ERM)
  • Construction Software and Systems
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software and Systems
  • Customer Service Software and Systems
  • Databases, Data Warehouses, Data Marts and Data Lakes
  • Decision-Making Software and Systems
  • Delivery Software and Systems
  • Document Management (DM) Software and Systems
  • Document Software and Systems
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
  • Electronic Data Processing (EDP) Software and Systems
  • Emails, Instant Messages (IM), Web Chats and Mobile Chats
  • Expert Software and Systems
  • Enterprise Architecture (EA) Repositories
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software and Systems
  • Extensible Markup Language (XML)
  • Financial Software and Systems
  • General Administration Software and Systems
  • Global economic trends and reports
  • Governments, Colleges, Universities, and Internal R&D Departments
  • Handprint Character Recognition (HCR) Software and Systems
  • Human Resources (HR) Software and Systems
  • Images and videos
  • Industry, Competitor, Partner and Vendor reports
  • Information Technology (IT) Software and Systems
  • Innovation and R&D Software and Systems
  • Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) Software and Systems
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Software and Systems
  • Inventory Software and Systems
  • Investment Software and Systems
  • Legal and Insurance Software and Systems
  • Learning Management Software and Systems
  • Lessons Learned Software and Systems
  • Log Files and Incident Report Software and Systems
  • Manufacturing Software and Systems
  • Marketing Software and Systems
  • Network Software and Systems
  • Operations Software and Systems
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Software and Systems
  • Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Software and Systems
  • Paper and Electronic Documents
  • Paper and Electronic Forms
  • Partners, Vendors and Consumer Electronics
  • Payroll Software and Systems
  • Phone Software and Systems
  • Procurement Software and Systems
  • Procurement Software and Systems
  • Production Software and Systems
  • Production Support Software and Systems
  • Program and Project Management Software and Systems
  • Records Management (RM) Software and Systems
  • Retail Software and Systems
  • Robots, Software Robots and Robotic Systems
  • Sales Software and Systems
  • Social Media and Forums
  • Software Development Software and Systems
  • Supply Chain Software and Systems
  • Version Control and Release Software and Systems
  • Warehouse Software and Systems
  • Web and mobile applications
  • Websites, Portals, Intranets, and Extranets
  • Workflow Management Software and Systems

Second, let’s look at some of the obstacles to smooth information flows across organizations:

  1. Self-Preservation – People think that sharing information makes them vulnerable.
  2. Doubt – People are unsure of how much importance others would pay to their information.
  3. Repetition – Processes are not in place to know how many times the same data field is created, captured and shared.
  4. Awareness – Processes created in a vacuum don’t take into account why they were created in the first place and if they have run out of their usefulness.
  5. Imbalance – Too many or too few technology systems to capture information.
  6. Black Hole – Technology systems continue to ingest massive amounts of data without providing any direct and relevant benefits to the organization.

Lastly, to help individuals in considering the importance of data, (1) a culture of data as leverage needs to be created, (2) individuals should be empowered to use data to enhance and challenge the business models, (3) every individuals’ data success and failures should be encouraged and shared so that lessons can be learned and (4) there should be quicker and easier ways for individuals to sift through historical and new incoming data.

For an ECM mindset lets understand the complexities, intricacies, and subtleties of data –> information –> knowledge by asking the following questions:



Who is incentivized at the executive, middle management and frontline individuals’ levels for making information-based decisions?

Who should be incentivized at the executive, middle management and frontline individuals’ levels for making information-based decisions?
What happens to information when it is produced and consumed?What should happen to information when it is produced and consumed?
Where are the entry and exit points of data?Where should be the entry and exit points of data?
When does information become irrelevant?When should information become irrelevant?
Why all information is important?

Why all the information should be important?

When you are asking yourself the above questions, keep in mind a survey of data scientists that revealed that 80% of the time in data is spent on collecting data sets, cleaning the data and organizing data. The reason for this is (1) there are no comprehensive lists of all the relevant data sets available inside and/or outside organizations, (2) there are no agreed-upon consistent international standards on how data sets should be published and/or obtained, (3) there are no substantially automated ways (yet) of how to get rid of all junk data and (4) holistic global data exchange standards across industries don’t exist. Now, imagine if your organization had an ECM mindset, what benefits would you reveal?

ECM Mindset

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Author: Khan

Speaker | Advisor | Blogger

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