Content Services Platform vs ECM – Concepts, Overview and Capabilities

Gartner, the leading research and advisory firm, has replaced the term “Enterprise Content Management (ECM)” with “Content Services Platform (CSP)” in its popular research report “Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications” published in Dec, 2016. Gartner feels the term “Enterprise Content Management” no longer reflects organizational needs for content in business and encourages organizations to rethink their content strategy.

What are the reasons for this change – ECM to Content Services Platform?

Traditional ECM systems has not live up to its original promise of bringing all enterprise content into one repository. The utopian concept of single repo for all enterprise data has not happened and it is unlikely to happen in the future. Infact what has happened is an increase in number of data silos in enterprises because of the advent and use of new SaaS productivity apps. Traditional ECM systems from Alfresco, OpenText and Documentum has fulfilled to some extent the goals of compliance and control. But they have failed to provide the user experiences that end users want (any device and anywhere access) and they come short when it comes to solving new functionalities like enterprise file sharing and sync, group communication, team collaboration and others.

What is Content Services Platform?

Gartner analysts define Content Services Platform as a “a set of services and micro services, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.”

If you want a simple definition Content Services Platform are nothing but “an API centric, cloud/device-agnostic next generation enterprise content management systems that support multiple repositories, endpoints, content types and business use cases to serve multiple stakeholders across an organization.

Products like FileCloud, M-Files, Box and Hyland Onbase fulfill the Gartner definition and can be called as Content Services Platforms.

Core Features of Content Services Platform

1. While traditional ECM systems support a single repository, Content Services Platforms support external content repositories in addition to its its primary repository. For instance please see FileCloud architecture given below,

In-addition to its primary repository (Managed Storage), FileCloud supports external repositories (Network shares, AWS S3 and Azure Blob storage). A traditional ECM architecture is shown below that supports a single, primary repository.

2. Content Service Platforms are API centric. All clients use the common APIs to access the content from the repositories. For instance, all FileCloud clients (Sync, Drive, Web, Outlook Add-in, Mobile apps) use the same REST APIs to access the content

3. Compared to traditional ECM architecture, Content Service Platforms offer intuitive user interfaces and excellent UX to appeal to business users. In-addition they provide flexible architecture. Not a monolithic one .

4. Content Service Platforms offer multiple endpoint access to the content managed by CSP. For instance, FileCloud offers multiple clients (Drive, Sync, Web, Mobile apps, Browser add-ons, Salesforce integration, Outlook add-on and so on) to access the content.

5. Content Service Platforms offer integrations with popular, common line of business applications like Salesforce, SAP and others.

6. An Ideal Content Service Platform is cloud agnostic and supports public, private and hybrid cloud storage. For example FileCloud can be deployed on-premise or on public cloud infrastructure and also available as SaaS.

7. Content Service Platforms support content governance to be compliant with regulatory and organizational mandates.

8. Content Service Platforms offer powerful data leak prevention capabilities to secure and manage enterprise content. It shall also offer granular folder, sub folder level access permissions for granular access control.

9. Content Service Platforms offer flexible metadata management and enables auto classification of content to organize and secure content.

10. Content Service Platforms provide an array of content management capabilities that include versioning, document preview, annotation and editing.