Epic ECM Battles of History: ECM vs File Sync and Share – with a CIO twist

OnBase-ecm-in-the-cloudThe leafy glades of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., provided the venue for the latest round of ECM vs FSS.

The AIIM Executive Leadership Council invited senior execs from Box, Evernote, Google and K2 to spar via a roundtable format with their ECM counterparts in the audience. Oh, and there was a fight. But not between the ECM and FSS corners.

ECM and FSS: similar goals, different priorities

At the end of the day, it turns out that ECM and FSS companies and execs have similar goals. They want to deliver relevant software and services to their business customers (who knew!).

The reality, however, is that they are doing it with different priorities in mind. ECM is focused on compliance, repeatability, and control. FSS is focused on user experience, collaboration, and speed.

The expected argument about who will win the hearts and minds of the enterprise never actually happened. Instead, a bigger argument erupted: Cloud vs The Big Enterprise CIO.

And in this corner …

AIIM invites speakers from different fields to explore various topics.  This time around, the discussion included a collection of CIOs from what can only be described as “big” enterprises.

One CIO shared a very interesting view of her company’s systems. To paraphrase, she said “We will not use public cloud solutions – ever.”

The argument for this was threefold:

  • Any functionality provided by a cloud solution probably already exists internally – somewhere. So the CIO just needs to turn it on.
  • The contracts relating to a cloud solution are not strong enough for the user. Who wants a cloud provider owning their data?
  • Why risk it?

I won’t go into detail about the heated debate that ensued, but it raised an interesting point. Is there a philosophical block for some people when it comes to cloud solutions?

I’ve blogged about this before, and for fear of repeating myself, I see this as a risk versus reward scenario. Yes there is a risk in moving to the cloud. But in many cases the rewards far outweigh those risks.

An alternative perspective on the benefits of cloud solutions

An alternative perspective was provided during the sessions. One person said the CIO’s role is to ensure the productivity of the IT systems in a business. Another said the role should focus on ensuring the compliance of the IT systems within a business.

This is where you start to see the challenge. And I totally get why this is a bigger challenge the higher up the organizational leader-board you go.

The CIO is constantly balancing the needs of making the business as effective as possible, while also ensuring the compliance and governance of all those systems.

And this is where my risk versus reward argument got an extra dimension: the vertical industry or the context of the decision.

For example, the risk associated with a system going down for a retailer is largely financial. Loss of earnings plus bad PR plus potential fines.

However, the risk for an airline, or a hospital, or even an amusement park are much more real. They can result in lost lives.The balancing act needs to be much more considered.

Where does this leave the ECM vs FSS discussion, or even the on-premises vs cloud discussion?

Pretty much where it was before. ECM and FSS will continue to deliver increasingly overlapping functionality to the same customers, just in different manners; and some people will be happy moving to the cloud – while some will never move.

So one step forward and two back? Perhaps. But it was fun watching the dance to get there!

David Jones

Dave brings over 20 years’ experience of working across the globe on projects ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to Big Data, and for clients ranging from the BBC to... read more about: David Jones