2015: Time to deal with the urgent issues in ECM

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“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” (Peter Drucker) Anybody who has the privilege to blog in January, has the opportunity to forecast the future in their area of expertise. I’m taking that opportunity to share my thoughts about the future of ECM. But, instead of painting the most beautiful […]

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” (Peter Drucker)

2015 New Years Day

Anybody who has the privilege to blog in January, has the opportunity to forecast the future in their area of expertise. I’m taking that opportunity to share my thoughts about the future of ECM. But, instead of painting the most beautiful panoramas of the distant futures, I would like to focus on some trends that are occurring right under our noses The ECM-related events that are probably not always getting the attention of ECM managers, consultants and experts. I will discuss three areas which are hot in the field. Not fixing these issues will definitely mean risking for your business.


Cloud computing and ECM are the topics of the hour. Cloud File Sharing and Sync (CFSS) is basically an ECM function. It’s about storing and sharing documents and files in the cloud, syncing them over multiple devices. ECM vendors are offering solutions for accessing their ECM-systems on mobile devices, next to the good old PC. But that’s not the story I want to discuss.

If you don’t have proper document-related cloud storage (policy) in place, the chances of your employees using their own cloud solution is very high. Dropbox, iCloud, Onedrive and other consumer oriented cloud storage will serve the purpose: storing your company documents in the cloud so your hard-working employees can access them anytime and anywhere. But do you want your company document stored in a consumer cloud environment? Where other might access them, where search engines crawl and where advertisers look for content and trends. In my opinion this is a rather urgent situation that one should deal with.

Few years ago, some of you may have forbidden your employees from using memory sticks for security reasons. And now they’re using a public cloud over which you don’t have control. Get a company or business oriented cloud, like IBM Navigator. Ask you employees to use this environment. Control this environment, look for compliance issues and connect it to your document management or records management system.


Document centric collaboration, document centric workflow and case management, I’ll put them all together in one bucket though I know they serve different purposes. These tools have been around for some time, but lots of organizations don’t use them to support processes around collaboration. Does that imply that your employees aren’t collaborating? I hope they are. With the tooling they got: email, chat, file shares, and so on. So if everything is going well, what’s the issue? The issue is that you don’t really know which tools they’re using.

Maybe they installed their own software and apps. Do you know who owns these software and apps, and who can see into your doings? Do you employees mail confidential information to the outside world? Do they chat on Whatsapp about your company plans? You no longer know if the processes and procedures are followed correctly, leading to compliance issues and risk. So better stay ahead and know what you’re company is doing. Using case management, like IBM Case Manager, can help gather insight and control over you processes. Process mining can help visualize what is really going on in your organization, making shortcomings, inefficiencies and non-compliance visible. Safe way to avoid fraud and theft within the organization . Protect your company assets and stay on top of it.

Compliance & Privacy

In most organizations unstructured data is seen as paper and electronic documents , not social media, e-mails, web content, blog posts. With the ascent of modern technology out of the Big Data world, analyzing unstructured data is becoming more feasible. Data analysts are getting more interested in the latter forms of unstructured data. The value of analyzing this type of data is becoming larger and larger. But wait a minute? Is managing unstructured data not an ECM function? Yes, it is.

But if the ECM system cannot supply the required data to the analysis tooling, that tooling will crawl for the data themselves. For instance: Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is being used for non-compliant purposes, namely gathering insight into personal behavior, like buying patterns. Did your client give consent for this? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) forbids use of outside scope, but how can you check whether the documents and social data have sprawled all over your organization?

We all know how difficult it is to educate humans to comply with company regulations about privacy and compliance, but how do we educate the robots who are accessing our data? Ask Google about the Right to be Forgotten. Can you forget your business relations? Better use your ECM system to control access to unstructured data or start with tools like IBM StoredIQ to get control of all your collections of unstructured data.


The three areas I mentioned aren’t novel. They’re under discussion for a long time. But still, I don’t see real attention to these issues, here in Europe. The functional needs behind the issues are real and present. So if you don’t cater for these needs, people will find their own solutions and systems. Systems you didn’t choose or evaluate. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is almost inevitable but also can mean risk for data loss, data theft and fraud. Do you accept the same risks when your employees bring their own cloud, collaboration apps and analytics tooling? Probably not. Deal with it now.

Graphics CC0 1.0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

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