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2016 Was an Active Year for Enterprise Content Management in Canada

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Judging by a few key events that took place in 2016, Canada is gradually becoming a market leader in the emerging field of enterprise content management. Major global players such as Konica Minolta and IBM expanded their presence Mississauga and Montreal, and the independent OpenText Corporation was closely followed by market analysts as it developed new enterprise content management solutions (ECM).

One of the biggest ECM moves of 2016 took place in September as tech giant Dell agreed to sell its Canadian operations to OpenText. The transaction, which was valued at more than $1.5 billion, put the Waterloo company on the map as a global ECM player.The new IBM center in Montreal aims to provide more than just another customer communication management platform to enterprise clients. The center will develop business solutions for companies that are looking to implement digital workflows.

Understanding Enterprise Content Management

In digital information hierarchies, ECM sits a spot higher than content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress. Whereas CMS applications are mostly used to publish online content, ECM aims to capture, collect, organize, store, and distribute all digital content.

One of the most often cited case studies that highlight successful ECM implementations in Canada involved a consortium of electric utilities that intended to move its legacy systems to Sharepoint, a popular platform developed by Microsoft.

Migrating legacy document systems to Sharepoint requires more than just digitizing paper documents. In the case of electric utilities, the ECM process needs to conform to federal and provincial regulations. The design of an ECM system must include a governance strategy, which consists of the policies, principles and standards for handling information.

When ECM solutions are implemented, organizational change is often required. Another business aspect to consider is how the ECM will affect relationships with customers and partners. A platform such as Sharepoint only provides the functionality of ECM; it is up to each company to set the policies that will govern the system so that permissions are given, restrictions are set and transparency can be granted when required.

The bottom line of ECM is that it needs to be implemented in such a way that it provides more value than CMS applications on their own. One example of ECM value would be the development of a system for a municipality that wishes to interact with residents by means of online forms. Such a system would require a centralized platform that receives and routes all communications accordingly. If the request is for building permits, for example, the original inquiry needs to travel along with the rest of the official documents until the permits are issued.

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