We continue our investigation into what enterprise content management (ECM) companies are doing to improve the technology, and whether they can actually come good on their bold claims to help customers get to grips with the data overload. You can read part one of our report here.
Mike Lynch, chief executive, Autonomy
"The problem with legacy ECM is that you worked out what was important to your organisation, moved it to a central repository, and then did a lot of manual work on it - tagging it and so on. Then every time it changed, the system made a record of it. So to say you were 'managing' your content is pushing it really. The legacy model was also not ready for the explosion in unstructured content – it's no longer a small subset of information. And fatally for the old model, regulatory changes came. It used to be that they'd ask you to produce a small subset of information [for e-discovery] but now regulators have deemed that what is important is much larger – pretty much everything.
"It's almost a case of Emperor's new clothes – the ECM systems are naked because they don't understand content. We have the technology to read content and do analysis on the basis of what it means, not just on the basis of what reference number has been attached to it.
"The big new ideas are meaning – understanding the meaning of content – and we'll see all ECM vendors moving to meaning-based solutions eventually. The second one is manage-in-place – not moving content out of 9,000 repositories into a central repository but keeping the information in place. With Interwoven we've got a top-of-the-line standard model ECM [system] and we've put in meaning technology and manage-in-place technology so we can radically move the market forward into new models.
"If you can do meaning you can also implement hybrid cloud and on-site systems. So the software in the organisation can understand a document and therefore understand whether to keep hold of it on site or send it off to the cloud repository. The issue is not so much the cloud as what goes where."
John Powell, president, chief executive and co-founder, Alfresco
"You used to manage your inbox by filing stuff but in the past couple of years email has got to a point where few people have time for that now. The whole content management industry is on a similar curve with the underlying unstructured information. Suddenly there's a whole new raft of information so we've seen a move away from using email as a discussion and collaboration environment to using collaboration tools where you keep the content in place and bring people to the content. You can parallelise a lot of activity on that content. It won't replace email but it's slowly changing the way people work with information.
"The next step is to get a lot more intelligence into the way we are tracking down interesting information. Search is all very well but you need to know what you're searching for, and searching for content is still a pretty crude affair. In future, technology that auto-classifies and dynamically tags information within a collaborative CMS environment will enable users to subscribe to the information they want. The point is getting the infrastructure deployed and teaching people how to use it – it's still a challenge."
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