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ECM, or enterprise content management, as defined by the Association for Information and Image Management is “the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes.” As such ECM is usually not a single piece of technology or software tool, but instead an entire suite of tools that can help companies manage and organize their information.

ECM has its roots in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when personal computers were becoming more and more commonplace, especially in the office setting. The predecessor of ECM was EDMS, or electronic document management systems. They were singular products that only focused on imaging, workflow, document management, and computer output to laser disc. ECM began its emergence as the Internet gained prominence and businesses sought technology that could perform multiple functions. Microsoft SharePoint 2010 was released as a platform-based ECM solution. SharePoint can perform all of the critical ECM functions of capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver, as well as integrating with user desktops for direct capture of information from Microsoft Office, email, and other applications.

According to AIIM, “ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization’s unstructured information, wherever that information exists.” ECM thus allows for complete information management and integration. SharePoint Server, the work-based solution of the SharePoint platform supports rich media such as video, audio, and Silverlight, and makes it easy to add and build rich content. SharePoint Server is currently one of Microsoft’s fastest growing products, having achieved a 20 percent growth from 2008 to 2009.