Using Social Computing to Accelerate ECM Adoption

Last week I had a post on 8 ways to accelerate adoption for social computing. In this post, I want to tackle the much harder question; that of accelerating adoption for your enterprise content management (ECM) implementation.

While accelerating adoption of social computing and collaboration (SC&C) is a great opportunity, the inability to accelerate adoption of ECM systems is clearly a significant problem.

Therefore, I wanted to take a slightly different approach to this issue. But before we get into the mechanics on how to accelerate ECM adoption, it might make sense to explore why ECM adoption remains so poor. Below are the top 3 reasons that I believe contribute to the lack of broad scale adoption of ECM:

1. ECM is Document-Centric vs. Conversation-Centric: Under ECM, collaboration gets very serialized. One has to first finish a document, then publish it, then wait for comments, then incorporate changes, and republish. Documents tend to be a fairly formal artifact, and as a result, the cycle times for publishing, reviewing, and enhancing get to be long. This works wonderfully for process workers, but terribly for knowledge workers that need to collaborate on issues during the day where a document might not be involved. They just need a collective set of opinions and ideas. An ECM system doesn’t allow for this.

2. User Interface Paradigms are Invasive: Most ECM providers have their DNA in building robust scalable architectures that enable content compliance and tend to be self-contained systems. If connectors are developed, they are for ingesting content from other areas into the repository. But the access mechanisms tend to be rather primitive. As a result, it doesn’t adopt existing interfaces for accessing content except in some very basic ways. This leads to a very disruptive user experience that, rather than enhancing productivity, makes the system invasive to one’s work processes. No one wants to do more work because they want to better manage content, and as a result, they don’t.

3. Content Contributors Don’t Experience Instant Gratification: An effective ECM system requires that there be a broad base of users that use the system, and that a large percentage of an enterprise’s content resides in the system. The absence of either of these two paradigms kills the value of an ECM system. So let’s start with a large percentage of content going into the system. Typically, a few contributors are tasked with inputting content into the system so that the majority of us can consume this content. However, there is no instant benefit for the content contributor to use the system. Instead, it is far more work for them to input content into an ECM system versus saving the document in a fileshare.

Now let’s look at SC&C for a moment as it pertains to these three inhibitors for scaling adoption within an organization. SC&C solutions are far more conversation-centric than document-centric, thereby more informal and easier to gain immediate return without a long drawn-out process.

Secondly, user interface paradigms are extremely simple and intuitive and very similar to what we use in our personal lives with Facebook, Twitter, and other consumer-based tools.

Lastly, conversation initiators (versus content contributors) typically get an instant response that makes the use of the system well worth their while.

So the argument is that inherently, it is simpler, more conversational, and more gratifying in nature. But the downside is that there are some very valuable capabilities such as information governance, process automation, etc., that ECM brings to the table.

If you were to combine the two capabilities, however, there would be a much greater probability of success for both systems. ECM would have a social layer to make it more enticing for the masses to engage with. And social computing could leverage enterprise applications such as ECM (and others over time) to dramatically increase the value of correlating information and obtaining content governance and compliance where necessary.  

So rather than coming up with 8 ways to increase adoption for ECM, I think the question we should ask is: How can we add a social layer of collaborative capabilities to broaden the reach of ECM within an organization? This approach would provide the necessary governance behind the scenes for social content, while also giving ECM the ability to broaden reach.

Stay tuned for more on the topic of adoption acceleration over the coming weeks…



Explore posts in the same categories: Enterprise and Social Implications, Trends and Predictions

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One Comment on “Using Social Computing to Accelerate ECM Adoption”

  1. […] (Note: this blog post is also available on Jeetu Patel’s blog.) […]

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