Content is the greatest asset of an organisation, yet in the past it is something that has been taken for granted. With data volumes doubling year-on-year, Butler Group believes that the lack of content management is already damaging the profitability of many organisations. Intense competitive pressures mean that any delay in publishing content can provide a competitor with an advantage.
We feel it is time that organisations examined their content assets and started putting a value on them. Content growth cannot be sustained at its current rate, and without putting some form of control in place to limit the content retained, companies will be unable to manage these most valuable assets.
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Typically, organisations do not start to think about managing their content until it becomes an issue and starts affecting the bottom line. Butler Group believes that they need to be considerably more proactive, rather than reactive, and start planning an ECM implementation before they reach crisis point. An organisation that can take its time and assess the merits and costs of a wide range of vendors' products will derive much more benefit from a system than the company that has to make a quick decision and rush the implementation.
ECM vendors fall into three broad categories. The first of these are vendors that provide an ECM platform, and are situated very much in the infrastructure layer. They provide the capabilities to manage content across a broad range of content and external repositories, which integrate with external applications to provide top-level functionality. Vendors in this category include IBM and Fujitsu. Next there are vendors that provide content applications, and this includes many smaller niche players, providing functionality in such areas as Record Management and Web Content Management (WCM). Finally, there are vendors that attempt to span both camps providing the widest range of core functionality, but their solutions are generally more expensive and may include features that are not required by some organisations. This group includes Documentum and Interwoven.
The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of an ECM solution is an important criterion when investigating the different vendors. It is not just the up-front licence fees and any hardware costs that have to be taken into consideration. There are many hidden costs involved in the implementation of an ECM application. These include the cost of the implementation process, which can take several months, and cost as much as the product itself if it is undertaken by the vendor or a partner. Even if an organisation decides to go it alone with the deployment, there will still be costs associated with the length of time that its own staff is tied up on the project. Other costs include the training required, the cost of consultancy (even an internally implemented solution will require some level of outside advice), ongoing maintenance, and support.