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|Labels Can be Deceptive|
|– The label says “content management (CM)”, but that may not be what the customer is actually getting|
|The IT industry comes up with new buzzwords every year. Many of them go out of use as fast as they appear, while others, such as enterprise content management (ECM), have a long-lasting impact on the IT landscape, changing it profoundly. ECM has figured prominently in the press since 1999, but it has yet to become firmly planted in the minds of the business world. The objective of the AIIM — or Association for Information and Image Management — is to increase the level of awareness of ECM in the future. |
|InSight spoke with AIIM board member Dr. Ulrich Kampffmeyer about his international involvement in the organization and about the future of the CM market in Germany. Many companies are currently scrambling to get a piece of the action in the CM market. Many of them simply undergo a facelift, basically relabeling their offerings in an effort to avoid being left behind. According to Kampffmeyer, 20% of current content management vendors will have disappeared by the end of the year. The market continues to consolidate. |
|(CK: Carla Kleinjohann, InSight Magazine; Kff: Dr. Ulrich Kampffmeyer)|
|CK:||In Germany, you're known as an industry expert, a visionary and an independent market pundit as regards document-related technologies (DRT). You have been elected as the only German member to the AIIM International Board of Directors, the industry's leading global association for users and suppliers of enterprise content management and e-business technologies in San Francisco. How come you're so committed to the AIIM?|
|Kff:||Representing European interests in a market dominated by the US is absolutely crucial. The direction of the industry is determined here, and this is reflected in key trade shows, conferences, publications, etc. all over the world. I would like to emphasize that Europe has different requirements, a different culture, and an altogether different perception of this topic. Incidentally, the German market is one of Europe’s key markets, despite its current weakness. This should be taken into account by the Americans in their operations. That’s why we are planning an AIIM congress event for DMS EXPO, the leading trade show of its kind, taking place in September 2002 in Essen, Germany. |
The AIIM plays a key role in all areas, e.g. traditional archiving and document management technologies, ECM - the technology on which all information systems of the future will be based - and new fields, such as business process management (BPM). The vendors in this market need a lobby to represent and reinforce the importance of enterprise content management, business process management, and document-related technologies. Being an association which is concerned with these topics, the goal of the AIIM is to help companies negotiate the transition to e-business.
|CK:||Why do you see these topics as being so important?|
|Kff:||Increasing quantities of information assets are being created electronically, and exist only in this form. Digital documents are legally binding by virtue of being electronically signed. More and more digital information has been amassed, month after month since the advent of the computer. All this information has to be recorded, accessed, administered, backed up, and made available for many years to come. The document-related technologies supplier sector has an important task in the long-term scheme of things - preserving the memory of the Information Age. |
|CK:||Is there an area in document management where you think new market prospects are emerging?|
|Kff:||I see electronic archiving by government authorities as a very exciting field. New laws and regulations, and a series of e-government initiatives in the EU are giving the document management industry new impulses and opening up market opportunities. This is sure to play a role also when experts and representatives of government authorities, archives, the ICT industry, and R&D meet in Barcelona at the EU's DLM congress, the key European event for Europe's public administrations, from 6-8 May.|
|CK:||The content management market has turned into a veritable jungle, in which many are trying to get a piece of the action - from major platform vendors, such as Microsoft, Lotus or SAP, to software boutiques. How do you keep tabs on all these goings-on?|
|Kff:||Well, I'd like to say that the term content management is overused, and indeed to some extent abused. It urgently needs to be redefined. CM has been transformed from a magic bullet for Web sites into a strategy for managing a wide variety of content for entire organizations. Today, the essential features of electronic content are its subdivision into meta-information, layout information, and actual content. Only in this way can content be provided for various types of display, reproduction and usage purposes. This is why a strict separation of the layout and structure information from the actual content is so important in professional CM. Using XML here is crucial, as it is the technology base of the future.|
However, often the industry only performs a facelift or relabeling. Nowadays, anybody who has anything remotely to do with documents wants to get into the CM business. For example, there are the traditional document management vendors who were taken by surprise by the Internet mania. There is something decidedly old-fashioned about the word document management even today. That's why these CM vendors merely underwent a facelift, relabeling themselves so as not to be left behind. Many of them expect improved positioning, but what is involved is little more than marketing hype. Then there are the major database vendors, like Microsoft, Oracle or IBM, who are trying to get into the portal business. An intriguing idea, but let's not fool ourselves - the only thing that truly counts at the end of the day is expertise in knowing how to aggregate and refine data from a wide variety of different sources. The new buzzword here is EAI, or enterprise application integration. Then there is a third group, exemplified by Gauss Interprise, which started out in editorial systems and have now discovered the ECM market for themselves.
Content management is comprised of three core areas: multimedia asset management, Web content management, and enterprise content management. There are a wide variety of different solutions, and no one vendor is really able to offer everything from one integrated source. Each vendor should focus on its strengths. This makes choosing a vendor easier for a potential user.
|CK:||Where do you think the market is heading?|
|Kff:||The market will continue to consolidate. For example, there are currently an estimated 400 WCM solutions on the market, or more precisely 400 solutions that have adopted the WCM label. The same thing will happen to the WCM industry as we are currently experiencing in the document management sector with SER, CEYONIQ and others. You might have the impression that there are an infinite number of Web pages to be created and kept up to date, but only a handful of companies will survive in the end. I project that 20% of WCM vendors will have disappeared by the end of this year alone.|
|CK:||What advice would you give a company that is looking to invest in CM?|
|Kff:||Generally speaking, the company should ask itself the following questions:|
What are we seeking to achieve with our solution? Which technical requirements are to be satisfied in the process? Are we interested in pure Web authoring, an internal portal, or a B2B e-commerce platform?
What opportunities do we have for shouldering a project? Do we have the resources and know-how to this end?
What environment do we have to integrate into? Which of our present components can no longer be used, which should be used more, and which additional ones do we need?
|CK:||What about the expense and effort involved? A small Web site has a completely different dimension from that of a corporate portal, doesn't it?|
|Kff:||Generally speaking, in DRT, ECM and BPM projects, 10 % of a solution consists of engineering effort, whereas 90% is accounted for by organizational, social interfacing and project management tasks. This is frequently underestimated. All of the CM solutions currently available on the market have their pros and cons. There are situations in which it becomes painfully clear who really understands the business and the customer's requirements. How many features a product might have is no longer decisive. Generally speaking, the critical situation of many a document technology vendor should not prevent the prospective customer in today's e-business age from thinking about improving its processes, making its electronic knowledge assets available, and the long-term availability of its information. The vendor's reputation and ability to survive should be considered, as should its expertise with regard to migrating solutions, data and documents. What is absolutely essential in this context is standardized interfaces and document description languages like XML.|
|CK:||Software is one thing. What about the role of consulting in CM projects?|
|Kff:||In our experience, the biggest challenge in projects is organization. Consequently, the significance of independent, qualified consulting services is equally important. Anybody who thinks they can develop everything on their own and get along without outside expertise is cutting corners. |