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The enterprise content management market break-down

Nearly all knowledge management professionals will tell you there is no universal definition for KM. It's too broad to explicitly define it or to agree upon a definition. Instead, we have individual ideas of what it means to us and our organizations.

In some respects, I think the same can be said of enterprise content management (ECM). It's another broad, umbrella term that's difficult to define. It seems the industry largely agrees it encapsulates a range of technologies, strategies, and methods for managing content that moves across the enterprise. It can be broken up in sub-categories, which can vary depending on who you're talking to.

For instance, in Ron Miller's assessment, these sub-categories include document management, Web content management, and business content management. Ron has been writing about this lately on Fierce Content Management. His most recent article talks about we're moving away from the umbrella term of ECM, and moving towards the idea of having different types of ECM to address various pain points. One in particular is information silos.

As I wrote in my comment, the information silo issue is one of the biggest pain points our customers express to us. Information is scattered about their shared network drives and dispersed amongst their hundreds or thousands of locations, and it's a challenge to make all that data available on-demand across the business.

But that's only the half of it. Subject-matter experts also have knowledge stored in their heads, and we're seeing companies increasingly interested in new ways to extract that wisdom and make it useful to the greater organization. Knowledge retention has become a primary objective of many companies we're working with, especially those that have shed and continue to shed their workforce due to economic conditions.

What that boils down to is this: For these particular pain points -- information silos, knowledge transfer, knowledge retention -- we've found a new approach emerge to address them. We call it social knowledge networks, as you might already know.

The tenets of social knowledge networks are similar to Ron's idea of business content management, which he described in his reporting. But social knowledge networks are unique because they begin with a business process or objective -- such as product innovation, proposal development, or competitive intelligence -- which spans individuals, departments, and geographies across the enterprise.

By bringing together content, people, and tools to support these objectives within virtual environments, social knowledge networks let organizations supersede the silo problem to increase productivity, foster innovation, and improve the retention and preservation of knowledge. This, as Ron says, "helps prevent reinventing the wheel and aids employees in finding knowledge wherever it exists in the enterprise."

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