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Enterprise Content Management vs. Line of Business Solutions: A Comparison to the US Transportation System

by | Mar 24, 2011

The United States has one of the most complex and intricate transportation systems of any country on earth. We have more miles of paved road (2,734,102) and more dollars invested (currently there is a $556 Billion transportation bill in Congress) because our country depends on its transportation infrastructure to deliver both people and goods in a fashion that fuels our domestic economy. This network of roads, bridges, and highways creates jobs, boosts efficient travel, and connects disparate locations via a system of shared space. This system is not one monolithic structure that covers the entire country from coast to coast but rather a complex grouping of inter- and intra- state highways with separate governing bodies and funding sources. This fast web of roads is not unlike the content structure in today’s corporate environment. Content management, in all of its forms, has become a critical part of every major organization and the way a company manages that system of content can oftentimes critically affect its competitive position in today’s economy.

Like the highways and byways of this country, businesses are a compilation of numerous systems organized on an intra- and inter-departmental scale. Oftentimes a company has both departmental and enterprise systems for managing the content that fuels its operations. This is no better illustrated than by the emergence of Microsoft’s SharePoint and the effect it has had on a company’s content management processes. Many large organizations have invested heavily in large-scale content management systems like EMC’s Documentum or IBM’s FileNet as enterprise solutions, while departmentally there is a need for a line-of-business application such as SharePoint. Like state turnpikes, these departmental solutions connect its users to boost efficiency and productivity while inter-departmental communication requires a mode of transportation to shift gears to a larger, more complex system. With such multifaceted system interaction, I ask: what happens to this all-too-important content and how does it maneuver the numerous avenues within an organization?

What can an organization do when facing these “content transportation” issues? Many times it is a simple means of finding applications that aid in the interaction and compatibility of these systems. With the increased attention given to content management and its importance within organizations comes the diversification of applications to improve these systems. Companies like Snowbound Software are creating solutions that improve communication and transportation of content via its “application agnostic” product offerings. These products are built with the understanding that the content housed within these systems is critical to numerous stakeholders, and there should be a means by which it can be securely accessed and utilized. It could be comparable to a car traveling from a paved road to a dirt road; a driver must adjust to their surroundings, familiarize themselves with the territory, and maneuver over a new interface. A universal document viewer such as VirtualViewer, that has the ability to sit atop any repository and display this critical information in a standardized UI can help aid the transition from system to system. Instead of moving from UI to UI companies can now coast across smooth pavement for miles and miles.