Is Enterprise Content Management (ECM) dead?

It can be said that there’s still a need for enterprise content management, yet one thing is certain – trends suggest that there’s a new kid on the block. Introducing the more agile, fresher and flexible kid brother, ‘Intelligent Information Management’ (IIM).

The premise of ECM was sound and made sense. Create repositories of documents and apply some metadata to make them easier to find. Then, store them in folders within an interface that has better usability than Windows Explorer.

The Challenge with Enterprise Content Management

Of course, the challenge with traditional Enterprise Content Management software is that it relies on the user to add metadata to documents to ensure relevance. Firstly, this is a time consuming process. Secondly, it’s cumbersome because users often only add the minimum metadata, rather than relevant information. This leads to unreliable and dirty data, resulting in, as we’ve heard many a time, ‘garbage in, garbage out’.

These systems use proprietary applications which means that the metadata information is only accessible and relevant when using their client. Should you ever decided to move to a new application the associated metadata may not necessarily migrate across, and what’s more, the migration process itself can be as big a project as the original implementation of the software.

Yet, these challenges are not the reason to don ECM dead. In fact, it can be said that the problem with the Enterprise Content Management is the word ‘Enterprise’.

Focused on catering to larger organisations, ECM’s are often complex and expensive, therefore making them unfeasible for small to medium businesses (SMB’s). So where does that leave SMBs? Do they have to settle for simple sync tools like Dropbox or Google Drive? Or are they destined to live with Windows Folders forever?

The simple answer is ‘no, they don’t’. The good news is there’s an alternate to choosing from either a simplistic, insufficient tool or an expensive, complex one. That’s where ‘Intelligent Information Management’ (IIM) solution bridges the gap.

But what exactly do we mean by Intelligent, Information, Management?


Once a futuristic concept, Artificial intelligence (AI) is now part of our everyday lives. Phones for example know our usual travel routes and as a result alert us to traffic conditions. Our homes are equipped with smart speakers that can interpret voice commands and subsequently provide information on demand. Our web browsers even know what we’re searching for before we finish typing it.

In addition to lifestyle uses, AI now commonly features in our daily business processes. Using AI technology, the content of our documents can be analysed either on demand or in the background, applying the correct metadata based on the document’s content. This means despite inputting ‘garbage’, a search will still return meaningful information. It also minimises time taken to apply relevant metadata to documents. By utilising the smart ‘suggestion and click’ options, users therefore no longer need to manually type and apply metadata.


Information not only applies to enterprise businesses, and no longer requires huge investments in new IT infrastructure or support costs to effectively manage. By utilising massive computing power in the cloud, business of all size can benefit from technology. What’s more, they can have near real time results delivered upon searching or adding information to the system.

Content is no longer just a document, or the text in a document. It is any information relevant to your business regardless of what, where or how it is accessed. Customers in your CRM, Vendors in your ERP, Files in Dropbox or Emails are all relevant and can link Documents, Processes and Workflows. This provides a 360 degree view to the right person, at the right time.


While information is critical to an organisation, the real importance lays in the ability to effectively harness and manage the information to therefore maximise business success. Management can include everything from capturing, searching, emailing, processing, adding workflow, storing and analysing your business data.

Depending on the task, your specific process or the end purpose you may require the ability to perform just one of these functions, several or the entire cycle.  Then overlay complexities such as the data could reside anywhere from your ERP, CRM, Windows Folders, Dropbox, SharePoint or any other repository in a central user interface, and SalesForce & Office 365 – the limitations of some ECMs becomes quickly apparent.

This begs the question, is it possible to have great Content Management, across multiple platforms, without the exorbitant costs of ECM?

The Answer?

Yes.  M-Files online.

With M-Files, it doesn’t matter how you use content, where it resides, what platform you have, or which user interface you use — you always have a unified user experience. You can use it anytime, anywhere, and with any device, from the cloud, on-premises, or as a hybrid solution. Improve collaboration with scalable, agile cloud services and integrate with local servers to leverage existing infrastructure.

Manage information based on what it is rather than where it’s located. There’s no need for migration since information can be accessed through the M-Files connectors allowing you to manage it in one view. In addition, you can customise workflows and solution templates to easily automate office work and integrate document management with business processes.

So, is ECM dead?  There’ll always be a need for Content Management, be it for the Enterprise sector or for Small to Medium Businesses. However, while necessary, we no longer need to be restricted by the challenges of traditional ECMs.  While perhaps not dead, it can be said that ECM has been superseded by Intelligent Content Management. 

This next-generation of content management technology allows all the same features, with additional benefits and capabilities. Intelligent Content Management, such as M-Files Online, offers a unified user experience across different systems, repositories, platforms, devices and user interfaces. It also opens the door for every business to streamline and automate business-critical information management processes at an affordable price.

If you’re looking for ways to manage business processes or data speak to Upstream, the experts in helping businesses work smarter, digitally.