Redefining Enterprise Content Management – A Modern, "Intelligent" Approach

September 13, 2016  by Pete Johnson, Director of Product Management

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) has been around for a long time, and has evolved significantly to include many features and functions to help organizations and departments manage documents. In fact, the term was first defined in 2000, and has been redefined four times since to reflect that evolution1. Most people now agree that ECM involves the ability to capture, store, and use all types of information that organizations may need, including paper and electronic documents, images, databases, and email―a far more complex and complete approach to content management than its initial application.  According to a recent AIIM report, the association is projecting that “by 2020 ECM as we know it will be gone. Content will be everywhere and in everything, but Content Management will be increasingly invisible.”2 

The ways in which enterprises now use all that data is rapidly changing as well. Initially, the focus was on creating and managing a simple business processes such as invoicing or credit approval. Today, organizations are tasked with utilizing all of the data to deliver more business value; including the ability to define new strategies, deliver new products and increase customer satisfaction. As such, we need to think more broadly about managing data. It’s not enough to store it and make it available to a single workflow, enterprises must harvest and analyze it. This is why the term ECM is outdated, and the technology is transforming to Enterprise Content Intelligence (ECI).

ECI, also referred to as just Content Intelligence, provides greater detail about Digital Transformationthe documents. But what exactly does that mean? A simple example would be documents available via a self-service web portal for customers and partners. With an ECM system, it is pretty simple to store and manage these documents, but with an ECI system, you have additional information such as which documents are being accessed most, comments about the usefulness of those documents, prioritization of the most useful documents, redundant documents could be removed, and other content improved to be more accurate. 

Other examples of how and ECI solution would work include:

  • Continually monitoring your documents to find and remove duplicates and near duplicates. This frees up space, and reduces the chances of outdated information from being accessed.
  • Monitoring your data for compliance and security risk by automatically search for unsecured documents that contain personally identifiable information (PII), personal health information (PHI) or payment card Information (PCI).
  • Improving existing process efficiency by consolidating data and documents that are used most frequently.

As organizations transition to the next generation ECM systems, an important aspect to consider are best practices which will not only ensure that enterprises are taking full advantage of the data within their organization but also provide some guardrails to keep automated processes running smoothly. ECI solutions can provide not only business process automation but best practices to streamline and automate a departmental function or the entire enterprise.

The key to this next generation ECI is to be able to automate the classification, extraction, storage and business processes as much as possible. New technologies that employ artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are becoming widely used by leading organizations in every industry. Being able to handle a variety of data, not just invoices and forms, allows these technologies to span to even more business processes. So what are you waiting for? Go bring some Intelligence to your Electronic Content!


1. "What is Enterprise Content Management (ECM)?".AIIM. Association for Information and Image Management. Retrieved September 20, 2010.

2. Content Management 2020: Thinking Beyond ECM. AIIM. Association for Information and Image Management. 2014.