Cloud Content Management

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Keywords: CCM, Mobile, Legacy ECM

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Cloud Content Management (CCM) is such a new subject that at the time I wrote this post there is not a Wikipedia entry for CCM. I originally heard the term from Larry Hawes of Dow Brook Advisory Service. Larry was hired by Box (formerly box.net) in 2010 when he was with Gilbane Group. Box was championing the term in order to differentiate traditional ECM from Content Management, File Sharing and Collaboration in the cloud.

As the workforce demographic continues to shift from Baby Boomers to GenX / Y / Millennials and beyond the mobility of the modern knowledge worker demands that they can access corporate IT Assets on their personal devices. These users are efficient and masters of multi-tasking. They use technologies that many CIO’s have never heard of. They should and will expect that the services, apps and information tools they use to perform their jobs are as easy to use as in their personal lives.

I believe the distinction between ECM and CCM should continue as a way to differentiate between two very different models and modes of working. Legacy ECM software is licensed per seat, by concurrent users or CPU count(s) with associated software maintenance. These solutions are robust and highly scalable but they are also expensive, complicated and proprietary. Some may differ with me on using the term proprietary and point to the fact that they support multiple OS, SQL Database(s), INSO viewing or provide API’s for third party software integration. But let’s keep it real, unless its Open Source its proprietary. Another key issue customers face is can you easily migrate or convert your content from one ECM platform to another or in some cases even afford upgrading to the latest version. I predict this will also become an interesting challenge for CCM providers as some customers decide to move from one to another. Legacy ECM works very well and has solved real business challenges for thousands of organizations worldwide, it’s just different from CCM.

The cloud computing model by its nature is mobile, accessible and open to rapid integration. CCM is currently focused more on collaboration, mobility and ease of use. As you look around some providers have been offering ASP or hosted solutions for several years. They are similar to ECM and are really just cloud ‘washed’ versions of their thick client ancestors. There are a handful of companies that do offer true cloud based alternatives that are highly secure in either multi-tenant or private cloud based options. The newer companies that have not come from a traditional background are focused on more open and simple use cases. That is not to say they aren’t secure, scalable and integrated. In fact in many cases they are easier to integrate because of their web services architecture. Also many of the mobile apps offer content encryption features in the business and enterprise editions.

Cloud solutions are easier to use than ECM platforms that are often complicated and require many hours of specialized training. On the other hand CCM services are not as feature bloated (rich) as ECM and so they lack some of the compliance certifications needed for use in highly regulated environments. But that is also where they have an advantage. People like to use CCM because it looks and acts like social software. I predict that as we see the products mature these gaps will be filled by both the manufacturers themselves and the emerging partner ecosystems or cloud brokers.

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