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BLOG: A social platform and ECM strategy

James Latham | Aug. 19, 2011
Social collaboration tools and enterprise content management key for an innovative workforce.

Emerging social platforms - linked into the ECM system - let employees establish cross-functional teams organically work anywhere they are through their laptops and smartphones. This breaks down barriers and creates the kind of collaborative culture companies need to survive and prosper.

An ECM system covers a broad range of functionalities: document sharing, remote information access, electronic records management, data capture and workflow of scanned documents, e-mail management, enterprise-wide searches across multiple information repositories, and collaboration sites and social sites - so-called Web 2.0 that give the wiki and Facebook experience, but within company firewalls. It also functions to deliver business content and workflows securely to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets through user interfaces native to the different devices.

Regardless of size, all companies these days have a need for both good collaboration and compliance. Compliance regulations are complex legal realities that affect companies operating internationally in a myriad ways. Failing to build in systems for managing documents for discovery can be costly.

Saving time and money

A mid-sized energy company found that by implementing a sound ECM environment it was able to access all of its content, regardless of format, in one convenient and secure location. This saved time in meeting the inevitable compliance regulations and saved money in reduced employee time doing the paperwork. The ECM system helped the company effectively balance what it had to get done for regulators with what it needed to do to be competitive.

Going a step further, an ECM system with social collaboration tools has the potential for vastly changing the landscape of a corporation. The enhanced ability to share information through company-wide social networks, blogs and wikis creates a knowledge culture in which ideas, not administrative titles, have sway. Everyone can post to a forum, for example; it doesn't matter if you're a VP or a manager. What matters is what you have to say.

Employees use a variety of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, forums, communities and profiles, to form unity and collaboration. Firms were able to develop a platform that connect everyone and become a source of sustaining ideas and expertise that will pay off for years to come.

Since the product of the free flow of ideas and expertise is often innovation, CIOs need to take a hard look at their own content management systems if they want to maintain innovation and be competitive. Studies have shown that innovation rates climb by up to 20 percent when employees have access to social tools as part of an overall ECM strategy in their companies. It is clear that content will continue to proliferate, but enterprises that implement a broad-ranging ECM system coupled with integrated Web 2.0 tools, will not only take control of ever-expanding content, but will be rewarded in even greater ways into the future.

James Latham is the chief marketing officer for OpenText. 



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