I was listening to NPR over the holidays and heard an article about something that the speaker called an “availability cascade”. From what I’ve read he may be misusing the term but the premise was this… -
- In today’s web 2.0 world, people create their own environment to consume information – including news.
- RSS feeds, twitter, reading online papers, Blogs, etc.
- People subscribe to things that interest them – that makes sense.
- People tend to only read things written by other people whose opinions match theirs – that kinda makes sense.
So if you only really read articles within your sphere of interests and only listen to people whose opinions are generally aligned with yours then your thoughts will only ever be reinforced. This is obviously not a great way to get a balanced view of the world.
I spend most of my life looking at where Microsoft SharePoint can benefit from being supplemented by traditional, full-blown ECM systems. This tends to give me a fairly negative view of SharePoint as I only focus on the areas of deficiency, not where SharePoint excels.
“Don’t be a victim of the availability cascade”, I thought. “Sit down and find out what about SharePoint is great from an ECM perspective.” Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this experiment was not exactly exhaustive but here’s what I did…for real…this is not a badly disguised excuse to take a dig at SharePoint.
I decided to Google the phrase “SharePoint best ECM” and then read the top 3 or 4 articles to see why people thought SharePoint was the best ECM system.
Note: I didn’t use Bing at first but I did re-run the test on it later and got pretty much the same results with the addition of an AIIM “Better together” paper.
Here’s what I saw:
I go into detail below but the bottom line is that I didn’t find anything that gave me someone’s thoughts on why SharePoint was the best ECM system. I was disappointed because this entry was supposed to be one that discussed why some people think that SharePoint excels at ECM. …So, what went wrong? There seem to be two options:
- Option 1 - I’m not suffering from availability cascade…sometimes your reality is the real one!
- Option 2 - I didn’t look in the right places and gave up way too easily.
I would seriously like to read opinions that support SharePoint being a viable replacement for the traditional ECM solutions – can you send me links to articles that support this? Post below if you know of any.
Result #1 – “SharePoint Best Practices Conference – With an ECM hat”
Strike 1 – nothing damming of SharePoint as an ECM platform but nothing indicating that it rocks. The main critical issue that they identify is “SharePoint is often viewed as a setup and run platform, but now as it enters the world of ECM that is no longer going to fly.” To be 100% fair, that point is way too often overlooked even with regular ECM deployments, your probability of success in any ECM project is tied entirely to planning and forethought.
Result #2 – “SharePoint vs. ECM 'Suites' vs. 'Best of Breed'”
By Steve Weissman Executive Director for Holly Group
Strike 2 – No real opinion and certainly nothing advocating SharePoint as a full-blown ECM replacement. Steve is actually just asking the question “Is it better to buy an integrated ECM Suite from a single vendor, or to go the “Best of Breed” route and assemble a solution of your own?”
Result #3 – “Introducing Web Analytics in SharePoint 2010”
Strike 3 – Although this is a Blog entry from the Microsoft Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Team it actually does not mention ECM in the body of the article.
Result #4 – “Introducing Web Analytics in SharePoint 2010”
By James Thumma, VP of Sales and Marketing, Optical Image Technology
Strike 4 – Section 2, paragraph 1, sentences 1 & 2…”Is SharePoint a complete ECM platform? Is SharePoint a complete ECM platform? In a word, no.”
I could stop there but I am trying to fight my availability cascade problem (4 days without a cascade but still in the denial stage). So, James’ well-structured point is actually that no vendor should represent their solution as the panacea for all things ECM so here’s a more representative quote to support that.
“… when Microsoft touts SharePoint as a complete ECM solution, it creates confusion. And to be perfectly honest, legacy ECM vendors have done a fine job of creating confusion in the marketplace without Microsoft’s help.”
In closing I would like to quote one entire paragraph from James which suggests that he may have been stealing thoughts from my mind as I sleep. I am going back to wearing my aluminum foil hat in bed.
“It seems logical to put SharePoint as a front-end to an existing ECM solution that already is completely integrated. You have the best of both worlds. SharePoint can offer its wonderful front-end pieces—the collaboration tools, portals, etc.—while an existing legacy ECM system can tie in full-blown integrated life cycle management, BPM, workflow, audit trails, security, reporting tools, dashboards, reports, full text searching, and other technologies that have been around for years. ECM works behind the scenes—invisible to end users—and adds all that value to SharePoint’s front end. ECM solutions are here. They work today. Why wait for Microsoft to finally round out SharePoint and hope that all of the marketing material about it being a comprehensive solution actually comes true?”