In my previous posts [one, two] on this topic I was thinking about how you might position and sell ECM into a consumer market as a service. I had little luck painting this picture but I have been thinking about the problem from a slightly different angle.
Many of the ideas that people have suggested could be solved using cloud storage and maybe a database. Generally they fall into the ‘store it in the Web and allow consumers to create relationships between the content’ category. Obviously you could do this with a content management system but you could do it without one too.
So here’s my theory; firstly, I need to decompose ECM into those constituent parts that differentiate it from simple storage, archiving or just a content enabled application. For example, the following are things that you can only effectively do with a real ECM system:
- Basic Library Services
- Create and delete content
- Complex version management
- Complex virtual document structures
- Ordered lists of objects with hierarchy
- Early & late bound version linking into the structure
- The ability to take and retain a snapshot of the structure
- Content being linked simultaneously to multiple places in a structure
- Rendition management
- The ability to store multiple renditions of an object that are bound to the object
- Rendition management & creation
- Thumbnail management
- Delivery of specific rendition based on context
- Retention, Audit and Disposition
- Ability to specify a retention policy and protect content under retention
- Audit of all operations on the content including download/read
- Structured Disposition
- Lifecycle management
- Workflow, Business Process Management/Analytics
…The list goes on
So, here’s the crux of my theory. If I cannot come up with reasons why a ‘consumer’ would care even remotely about these features then there probably isn’t a good model for selling direct ECM to consumers. That’s not to say that you might not embed ECM within a consumer app but probably 2 levels abstracted from the user.
My challenge is to come up with use cases that a consumer would understand and care about that use these features.
Please help…I’m kicking it off with the one use case for Virtual Documents that I’ve come up with so far. Got any ideas for others? Put them in the comments or email them to me directly at [email protected]