50 shades of ECM: Is the next big thing sexy enough or just plain boring…?

Posted by Rachael Pullen on February 27, 2014

50 Shades of Grey was the biggest selling book series of 2013 and it had everyone talking about it. Now we’re in 2014 and everyone is still talking about it! They’re making the books into a film, which is due to be released in 2015 so we will still be talking about it a year from now!

It’s no secret that sex sells (50 shades and its sexy storylines have made author E.L. James millions) but can the same be said in the world of workforce management? ECM, or Enterprise Content Management, has been dubbed as one of the ‘next big things’ to “do” in 2014, but is it sexy enough get people hot under the collar? I spoke with two of our consultants for their opinions on whether they think ECM is hot or not…..

Caroline Dent, Consultant, Leadent Solutions

“It goes against everything I believe in – I love efficiency and I wished I lived in Hong Kong (by the way, their transport system has to be the most effective in the World! And that cute little Octopus card that is accepted everywhere, is the King of Debit cards!) – but when it comes to EIM, ECM and Document/Content Management I think I’d rather continue to file my paper away in cabinets! I know they’re not all quite the same thing and some of you will be red with rage that I have plonked them under the “Document Management” umbrella but to me they are, and they just don’t get me going. It pains me to say “I’d rather just keep paper copies of everything”, just as much as it’s paining you to hear it.

Ok, so, I actually hate paper. I love spreadsheets and e-forms and I love my MacBook and those little online note pads, but Document Management… it’s just so un-sexy! Whenever someone mentions it my brain thinks of librarians, Volvo estates and auditors. And let’s face it there’s nothing sexy about any of them!

Unfortunately Document Management is now creeping its way into my life. I have no choice but to get involved and get positive, but it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, I like to see a problem solved, see my work turned into a solution and be passionate about it, but to me ECM is like a boring pair of striped pyjamas rather than a nice silky negligee – Yawn.

What’s wrong with just using Box, Dropbox or Google Drive? Do we really need to invest so much of our time in organising our documents when we already have solutions available that meet the needs? Won’t these solutions see us through and allow us to preserve our time for something a little sexier?!”

Elliot Stamp, Project Manager, Leadent Solutions

“Let me start by saying; I agree, ECM is not sexy. Doing ECM is like brushing your teeth. It’s not especially enjoyable, it’s a bit of a chore, but it’s important because it avoids pain further down the line. It helps to establish a bit of order and formality around the edges of your day, and should become second nature.

While clean, tidy, shiny teeth are not the definition of sexy; the reverse certainly is the case. Messy, untidy and disorganised is unsexy, whether that is dental hygiene, or information and document management (ECM).

If you don’t do ECM, how do you share and collaborate using important information and documents with colleagues? How do you ensure that they have access to the very latest documents and have peace of mind that valuable information is controlled, stored and retained for the required period of time? How do you avoid unnecessary time wasted trying to find documents (whether that be paper or electronic) and how do you avoid unnecessary duplication of information in disparate siloes?

If your answer is still, “I don’t care” then perhaps revisit the teeth brushing analogy. You know that if you continue to keep on top of dental hygiene (or information management) you will reduce the risk of later pain and dare I say it, feel that little bit sexier.

But back to my opening comment, ECM will never be sexy. What it should be is more invisible to the user and hidden under the covers. We really do need to do it, and if it can’t quite become your second nature then its use should at least be more unobtrusive, flexible and seamless.”

So there you have it – two very different opinions. Whilst I have to agree that ECM isn’t sexy or exciting and doesn’t hold the appeal to a wider audience like cloud or wearable technology, the concept of ECM – having all that information at my fingertips, all in one place, neatly ordered and updated in real time – is very appealing. Perhaps it’s the thought of structuring all that information that’s the turn off? “Metadata” is hardly an alluring word, but without some form of system that pulls and pushes all of our data to us, whether we are in the office or out in the field, can we ever be truly efficient? Let us know your thoughts.

[No librarians, Volvos or auditors were harmed in the writing of this blog].