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ECM Characteristics

Content management includes ECM, Web content management (WCM), content syndication, and media asset management. Enterprise content management is not a closed-system solution or a distinct product category. Therefore, along with Document Related Technologies or Document Lifecycle Management, ECM is just one possible catch-all term for a wide range of technologies and vendors.

The content and structure of today’s outward-directed web portal will be the platform for tomorrow’s internal information system. In his article in ComputerWoche 2001, Ulrich Kampffmeyer distilled ECM to three key ideas that distinguish such solutions from Web content management:

Enterprise content management as integrative middleware:
ECM is used to overcome the restrictions of former vertical applications and island architectures. The user is basically unaware of using an ECM solution. ECM offers the requisite infrastructure for the new world of web-based IT, which is establishing itself as a kind of third platform alongside conventional host and client/server systems. Therefore, EAI (enterprise application integration) and SOA (service-oriented architecture) will play an important role in the implementation and use of ECM.

Enterprise content management components as independent services:
ECM is used to manage information without regard to the source or the required use. The functionality is provided as a service that can be used from all kinds of applications. The advantage of a service concept is that for any given functionality only one general service is available, thus avoiding redundant, expensive and difficult to maintain parallel functions. Therefore, standards for interfaces connecting different services will play an important role in the implementation of ECM.

Enterprise content management as a uniform repository for all types of information:
ECM is used as a content warehouse (both data warehouse and document warehouse) that combines company information in a repository with a uniform structure. Expensive redundancies and associated problems with information consistency are eliminated. All applications deliver their content to a single repository, which in turn provides needed information to all applications. Therefore, content integration and ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) will play an important role in the implementation and use of ECM.

Enterprise content management is working properly when it is effectively “invisible” to users. ECM technologies are infrastructures that support specialized applications as subordinate services. ECM thus is a collection of infrastructure components that fit into a multi-layer model and include all document related technologies (DRT) for handling, delivering, and managing structured data and unstructured information jointly. As such, enterprise content management is one of the necessary basic components of the overarching e-business application area. ECM also sets out to manage all the information of a WCM and covers archiving needs as a universal repository.

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