An intriguing announcement recently came from John Mancini, Chief Evangelist at AIIM. It got me to thinking about all the different points-of-view and perspectives we use for talking about the work we do. And in particular when I think about the connection between enterprise content management and our development of knowledge strategy in the organizations where we’re employed.
Here’s what John wrote in announcing AIIM’s new eBook:
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the state of ECM. In December, Gartner announced:
“ECM is now dead (kaput, finite, an ex-market name), at least in how Gartner defines the market. It’s been replaced by the term Content Services.”
Our reaction reminded me a lot of that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the people of Oz march around singing “Ding dong, the witch is dead.” Not to imply that ECM is some evil witch, but more in the fact that people just took this announcement and ran with it. Following this announcement came countless articles, discussions, and comments. But, if you don’t live and breathe this stuff, how are you going to be able to sift through it all and determine what’s most important… How this all affects YOU!
In our new eBook, we had this in mind. We wanted to create one source that answers the questions we’re all asking, including:
How did we get to where we are?
Is ECM really dead?
What does it all mean for you?
Most importantly, we introduce something that we believe will be the next big wave — the idea of Intelligent Information Management!
Good for you, John. And well said.
As is often the case with John Mancini’s work, the announcement was usefully phrased, provocative and at the same time full of stimulating ideas and direction. Not surprisingly, I was fascinated with the quote he used from Gartner and the use of the word services in the Gartner suggestion that “ECM” — as a descriptor — has been replaced by “Content Services.” A quick reaction from me was something along the lines of “why in the services direction, I wonder?” Or perhaps more reasonably (considering how I came to embrace knowledge services some time back), in asking the question: “Is the ECM community of workers — and more interestingly, perhaps, its ECM leaders — caught up in the same reasoning many of us have been following for years, as we make a distinction between what happens with the ‘knowledge management’ (‘KM’) construct and our concept of knowledge services?”
From my perspective how we handle intellectual capital and how we think about dealing with knowledge are both critical in our success in our organizations, a point I made when I spoke at a legal conference a long time ago. Here’s how I put it in our SMR Special Report about my presentation when I described how as a profession we were moving from KM to knowledge services:
… managers, corporate executives, and even leaders in organizations and institutions that were not necessarily business-focused required a unified approach [to managing intellectual capital]. For efficiency and for effectiveness, they needed an enterprise-wide knowledge strategy that applied to all strategic knowledge and would enable the enterprise to access and deliver any content connecting to any part of the organization and, not to be dismissed, to its success. They wanted a practical approach to managing information, knowledge, and strategic learning across the enterprise. (Manager and Leader: Defining the Knowledge Strategist)
These managers and leaders wanted a “service,” it seemed to those of us thinking about these things at the time. They wanted a service that would support and build upon management principles (and, as I always contend, on leadership principles as well). But it would not be management itself, as in “knowledge management.” It would be a function or an operational element.
And in Knowledge Services: A Strategic Framework for the 21st Century Organization, my opening sentence continues this thinking. There I state that knowledge services is “an approach to the management of intellectual capital that converges information management, knowledge management, and strategic learning into a single enterprise-wide discipline. ” So, again, knowledge services is an approach to management, not necessarily management per se.
And while I probably should think of myself as among those workers in the knowledge domain who “live and breathe this stuff,” I seem to have missed out on all those countless articles, discussions, and comments John refers to. But the next point he makes truly resonates with me, for his challenge to all of us in this field makes a great deal of sense: “How this all affects YOU!”
That’s really the crux of the argument, isn’t it? My professional life is a continuing effort to connect — and to encourage others to connect — the “people” part of the people/processes/technology triad and the critical role we and our colleagues play in how intellectual capital is dealt with in the organizations where we work (and even where we volunteer and in other parts of our personal lives as well). And I’m not alone in this kind of thinking; lots of us working with knowledge strategy think about this connection. And it’s a connection Barrie Schessler made very well when she co-authored the section on ECM and knowledge asset management in Knowledge Services last fall and when she wrote about the last KMWorld Conference in an SMR Briefing last December (KMWorld: Connecting to the “People” KM Pillar):
This year’s KMWorld conference was titled “Hacking KM: People, Processes, & Technology” … I agree that a successful knowledge management strategy must incorporate these three foundational pillars if the strategy is to be successful. … I was especially drawn to the [conference organizers’] connection of the three pillars to the requirement of community building within the enterprise. Taking this approach moves the “people” pillar one step deeper into helping all knowledge workers — and especially knowledge strategists — really understand how and why people interact, not just at a high level in what they do or what resources they need to get their job done.
So both Barrie and John Mancini are pointing us in the right direction, and John provides a neat table showing how we have been working in these areas in three distinct timeframes (1995, 2005, and 2015). I liked this table very much, and I can see it turning up in lectures to my students (fully credited, of course). For in each of these “eras” (we might call them) he provides a significant association, using ECM ideas we were thinking about at the time: for circa 1995 referring to document management and workflow, to enterprise content management for circa 2005, and to mobile and cloud content management for circa 2015. Useful distinctions indeed.
It’s a direction we really can’t get away from, can we? Nor should we. We don’t want to move away from thinking about how we handle intellectual capital. It is an important element in how we work in our organizations and — from my perspective — in how we think about our work, whether we call it “content” services or “knowledge” services.
We’re working with services supported, as I say, by both management and leadership throughout the organization; we state clearly that the purpose of knowledge services is to ensure the highest levels of knowledge sharing within the organization, to ensure that efficiency and effectiveness with respect to information, knowledge, and strategic learning fall into place. And — as it turns out — with content services as well. We’re all in the same place, regardless of the terms we use to describe what we’re doing, and that’s one of the reasons I’m so pleased with the book John has written for AIIM. Despite some variations in how we say it, all of us in this work are moving in the same direction. And it’s a good direction for us, and for our users and professional colleagues, a point of view made clear in John Mancini’s book.