Managing ECM in content’s new era part 1

Introducing enterprise content management systems can be nightmares of process and procedure, but the integration of social media is making ECM deployments worthwhile

Data centre, data centres, server, servers

Data centre, data centres, server, servers

For all the millions your average business has invested in IT infrastructure, it remains sad but true that many businesses are still hobbling along with enterprise content management (ECM) systems that are giving them sub-par online presences.

In many cases, the deficiencies are so bad that they’re not only hindering the ability to harness important consumer trends like social media and video, but are impeding employees rapidly embracing cloud-hosted applications and data. Throw in the usual assortment of different business practices, disinterested employees, budget-conscious managers and developers’ insistence that they can write mature content management systems, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Anybody who’s tried to introduce new ECM systems, or to enforce the processes and procedures around one, knows how it goes: special-interest employees either refuse to conform to business-wide ECM guidelines, or well-intentioned, but discipline-lacking employees fail to keep ECM working as it should. Further, others can get caught up in turf wars over content control but become disengaged with its day-to-day administration. Even if everything miraculously manages to come together, the technical infrastructure behind many ECM systems can let users down.

Karen Holt knows well how such issues can compromise the efficacy of ECM initiatives. As the head of information services for the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMA), Holt is spearheading a range of cloud computing-related initiatives that include a total overhaul of the organisation’s ECM environment – which can be roughly defined as the pairing of a basic content management system (CMS) and a broad range of content acquisition and control systems.

ANMA’s previous content environment was created by a small firm that was eventually bought out by a larger company, then proceeded to stop picking up the phones after it outgrew its ability to keep servicing customers.

“The new company charged a lot of money to look at you, and then no longer supported the platform,” Holt explains. “Then we had to go down the process of deciding what we are trying to do with our online environment. We’re going to be distributing a lot of rich media, for example, and we need the infrastructure and CMS to do that.”

ANMA’s migration plan involves the shifting of key IT functions – which have remained the same for over seven years – to a range of Cloud services that will share the responsibility for ANMA’s resurgent infrastructure.

In the content management area, this includes abandoning the old proprietary application and shifting the museum’s whole online presence to a more scalable, standards-based ECM system built to run on Microsoft’s Azure Cloud environment. “That does impact online with people who are responsible, like content editors,” Hart explains. “The current system was so difficult that there weren’t many of them. That really impacts on my teams and how we changed that.

She says that, increasingly, the IT department’s mandate is to put ever-more content and information online so the museum can reach more people.

“We didn’t want to once again have all these very different software developments,” she adds. “We wanted to be able to deliver that online, in the museum, and on a mobile device through consistent interfaces with very little change to the software. And when we want to start pushing out a lot of content, the content distribution network in Azure will help us enormously. We would not have been able to manage this inhouse ourselves.”

Next page: The ECM revolution

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