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Forrester’s Q4 2011 Enterprise Content Management Study emphasizes the importance of Taxonomy for SharePoint

The Forrester Wave Enterprise Content Management(ECM) report for Q4, 2011 was published in November of this year. We reviewed an excerpt from this report and noted that SharePoint was not included in the top four spots for this category of application software. These four top spots were awarded to Microsoft Competitors in the ECM space, IBM and Oracle, along with EMC & OpenText who also have applications specifically written for SharePoint in addition to their own proprietary applications.

Several points gleaned from our review of summaries of this report sound warning bells to our ears. For example, Alan Weintraub, who authored the summaries that we reviewed, appears to make the claim that it is the cost of editing an “explosion of unstructured content” that serves as a driver for global businesses and other large organizations grappling with ECM to implement a “new” approach: “content-centric” content management. As we understand “content-centric” content management, this procedure addresses the need to manage large volumes of “unstructured” content from the perspective of first aggregating the content, itself, into any one or more of four basic ECM content types:

  • Foundational
  • Business
  • Transactional, and
  • Persuasive

From the perspective of “content-centric” content management, Microsoft lacks management features for “Transactional” ECM, specifically tools to manage “[i]maging, document output management, and business process management”.

Firstly, we find the whole concept of “content-centric” content management to be simply a spurious creation of a “new” label for a truly old familiar story: simply that true ECM requires destruction of business silos and, therefore, few organizations outside of highly regulated industries have had any success at implementing workable ECM solutions. Further, even within highly regulated industries there are comparatively few success stories. Splitting types of content into four categories as per the Forrester report is no more, in our view, than “splitting hairs.”

Further, we find it curious that Forrester claims SharePoint is lacking in the area of management tools for “transactional” ECM, namely content created via imaging, Business Process Management (BPM) and “document output management” (whatever that is). From our vantage point, Microsoft and its partners have created several notable tools in these areas.

With specific regard to BPM, these tools include AgilePoint BPM which is a .NET compliant application that empowers SharePoint with a slick method of building BPM software applications with no other external tool than Microsoft Visio.

In the area of imaging content, we have just written about OpenText’s solution for managing imaging content where ECM foundation support is derived from SharePoint. Therefore, we can’t understand the claim that SharePoint is not a best of breed application for Imaging content. Finally, we can’t really understand the general category of “document output management”; therefore, we have nothing to say on this final ECM type.

We think that the best method of dealing with an “explosion of unstructured content” is to leverage taxonomy for rendering structures, as required for content. It is precisely in the area of taxonomy where we think SharePoint is heads and shoulders above its competitors. Rehmani Consulting Inc offers a lucid and powerful set of two video training tutorials on taxonomy and SharePoint authored by Mike Doane. These videos also present Term Story and meta tagging as important components of successfully using taxonomy to manage content types.

If you would like to hear more about how our video training can be applied with within your SharePoint implementation to implement a strong taxonomy for ECM, then please either call us at (630) 786-7026, or Contact Us. We will be happy to elaborate with additional suggested videos and specific tips.

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