EMC content archiving calls back to explain solution frameworks

After publishing the previous analysis on EMCs (NYSE:EMC) content archiving plans in EMC content archiving group still talks about possibility, not reality, Steve Robins, Director, Industry & Solutions Marketing, EMC Corporation reached back out to me.  He wanted to set the record straight on a solution frameworks and EMCs value proposition using them.

Steve told me that EMC has been building these over the last few years to help ease the challenges experienced in enterprise content management.  Specifically, solutions frameworks exist for many types of business process.  For example, a business process may encapsulate the use of Adobe forms, Captiva faxes and Documentum documents.  To help illustrate his point about frameworks, Steve sent over a video demonstration of the workflow called New Account Enrollment.  It is about five minutes of screen shots showing the required functionality, albeit very generic.  Note: for fun watch the clock in the lower right.

New Account Enrollment Framework

Frankly, I agree with Steve that EMCs work on solution frameworks is paramount.  That work is primarily focused on structured content and structured processes.  However, the frameworks aren’t really new to the area of managing unstructured content.  Microsoft first released accelerators in 2003 under the umbrella of “Office Solution Accelerators”, then in late 2004 renamed the program to Solution Showcase for the Microsoft Office System.  In either case, the situation remains bleak for managing unstructured content created by non-deliberate processes.

Non-deliberate processes are those that don’t follow the standard work flow of business operations.  They are processes or tasks that people take when they are trying to create something for a structured business process.  It’s those non-deliberate processes that create emails, rename presentation files and financial spreadsheets, etc.  I asked Steve “What do you do for processes that do not need defined work flow?”

Steve’s response was simple and focused.  He suggested Documentum’s ability to act like a file system could be used by the user to file the document.  In my experience, that’s precisely what doesn’t happen.  So I declare non-deliberate content creation is not something you can solve with ECM.  The problem of non-deliberate process unstructured content creation must be solved by working on the outside of the creative processes.  Technology must look for clues about the content based on known business processes, email recipients and who saved what file and when.  

For example, knowing who saved a file, the persons they were emailing and the business processes they were completing are all clues to classifying content, let alone the concepts in the content.  However, a key challenge worth solving is who created documents on a file system, finding technology to accurately do that is challenging.  Leveraging the owner-bit on a security descriptor is typically pointless since they are so easily changed via CIFS and NFS.

EMC is in a unique position.  The unique position is getting the respective heads of storage, security and intelligent information management to triangulate process, communication and security clues.  Outside of EMC, people work on converging storage, security and information meta data to solve problems like internal investigations, criminal and civil cases for legal purposes.  Leveraging those methods of investigation will lead to better management of unstructured data created during non-deliberate work processes.  Only future business history will reveal whether EMC can take those leadership steps or continue to exclaim “Documentum as a file system.”

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