Wanted: Methods for moving mountains of content

Document management fosters compliance while enterprise search cracks silos

See correction below

Regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals and financial services have used EDM (enterprise document management) for years to prove compliance in handling important information such as customer records. Throughout 2005, compliance gaps hit home -- and the headlines -- in organizations that overlooked these rigorous controls. But regardless of compliance requirements, companies of all stripes grappled with the overarching problem of managing and searching the mountains of data that enterprises generate every day.

Yet progress occurred on both fronts. And this momentum should continue into 2006. Arguably, EMC Documentum offers the most complete ECM (enterprise content management) solution, with a book-long list of modules ranging from workflow and business process automation to Web content publishing to records management, compliance, and archiving essentials.

Document lifecycle management, however, doesn't have to be so complex or expensive to give enterprises good ROI. An increasing number of midmarket Web content management products now integrate document management and business process workflow. And we've tested several good ones. Admittedly lacking Documentum's scalability and breadth, solutions such as Ektron CMS.Net, RedDot XCMS, and Xerox DocuShare belong on the short list of many organizations seeking more control over document creation and use.

Content management hasn't emerged as a full-fledged SOA yet, but it continues to move in this direction. Our favorite hosted Web content manager, CrownPeak CMS, for example, extends asset repositories and records management to CRM integration. Moreover, SilkRoad's Eprise 2006 not only bundles document management but integrates well with multiple services technologies.

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Search also reached several milestones in 2005. First, desktop search delivered on the promise of federating results of local and enterprise information from a single interface. In one case, Google strengthened its partnership with IBM, extending Google Desktop Search into IBM enterprise databases. More recently, Microsoft's Windows Desktop Search learned to crawl e-mail stores and file shares.

The next step in the evolution of enterprise search is putting all this data into context. Some questioned the wisdom of the Autonomy-Verity merger, given the complications of integrating their disparate search technologies. But the pairing has merit: By putting their resources together, the two may give customers better technology choices. For instance, both companies have taxonomy technology, which analysts say could converge into a solution to challenge another market force, Fast Search and Transfer.

While the big-name vendors wrangled, search breakthroughs from upstarts appeared this year. Vivísimo introduced Velocity, an elegant, real-time way to federate and cluster search results from both enterprise and public search engines. Now Velocity is incorporating query routing, where users are directed to the appropriate search engine or specialized search path according to their questions.

Although others' offerings are not as sophisticated, 2006 will certainly see accelerated adoption of search federation. Naturally, ECM vendors such as EMC Documentum, who's Content Integration Services coalesce 300 disparate data sources, also continue working to open data silos. Not all at once, but the walls between business users and the information they seek are coming down.

Correction:

In this article, the name of EMC's content management product should have been EMC Documentum 5 Enterprise Content Management Platform . InfoWorld regrets the error, which has been corrected.

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