Fear and SharePoint: Trends Seen at AIIM Expo - InformationWeek

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4/18/2007
05:54 AM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Fear and SharePoint: Trends Seen at AIIM Expo

Compliance mandates and legal risks are a big focus here at the AIIM show in Boston. Also everywhere - the keynote lineup, the press room, the collateral material, etc. - are presentations, announcements and references to Microsoft SharePoint. I'll get to SharePoint and parallels between BI and content management in a moment, but first a few thoughts on fear mongering.

Compliance mandates and legal risks are a big focus here at the AIIM Conference & Expo in Boston. Also everywhere - the keynote lineup, the press room, the collateral material, etc. - are presentations, announcements and references to Microsoft SharePoint. I'll get to SharePoint and parallels between Microsoft's BI and content management thrusts in a moment, but first a few thoughts on fear mongering.Long before Enron crumbled and Arthur Andersen got caught red handed shredding documents, certain factions within the enterprise content management (ECM) community learned to feed off of fear. These are the marketers who seize on headlines about corporations getting their wrists slapped in legal courts. The greater risk, they quickly point out, is the court of public opinion and having your corporate reputation tarnished (for, say, failing to produce a record) or flat out tarred and feathered (for, say, suffering a breach of private customer information).

IBM/FileNet went to the extreme of holding a four-hour mock trail here at AIIM in which the fictitious companies Allied Claims Processing and Inland Insurance tried to wriggle out of producing documents or paying fines related to breach of 400,000-plus private customer documents. I didn't stick around to hear the verdict.

Don't get me wrong. As discussed at length in this week's Q&A interview with AIIM president John Mancini, records management and retention and, certainly, information security and access control are hugely important topics and disciplines that must be addressed. Nonetheless, Tony Byrne of CMS Watch helped me put my finger on what I don't like about this style of marketing. Tony recounted a high-level executive at a major ECM vendor boiling the records management pitch down to selling ROI, but in this case the acronym stood for "risk of incarceration." CMS Watch contributor Seth Gottlieb added that "firms don't really want to excel at records management, they merely want to be good enough to avoid getting into trouble." Yes, every firm should become proficient at records retention and management, but it's just not very inspiring, business-driving stuff.

As for SharePoint, Microsoft is attempting to do in the ECM arena that same thing it's doing in Business Intelligence: offering the basics at a low cost so you can expose it to every information worker. And borrowing from the same script used by BI rivals, established ECM players slam Microsoft on its ability to scale, it's ability to deal with heterogeneous environments and its requirements to upgrade to Office 2007 and Vista to get the latest functionality.

Microsoft's Jeff Tepper, corporate VP of the Office Business Platform, delivered a keynote address here on Tuesday in which he laid out Microsoft's vision for a "holistic information management experience." The presentation even broke into a product demo. That's not my idea of a "keynote," but many attendees in the packed ballroom seemed eager to hear and see more about what's billed as easy, low-cost content management.

SharePoint already has some 10,000 corporate customers and more seats than all other ECM vendors combined, by some estimates. So it's not surprising that fresh announcements about SharePoint integrations are a dime a dozen here at AIIM Expo. Executives from EMC and Open Text, to cite just two examples, told me all about their archive links to SharePoint, both of which let you archive content from far-flung, departmental SharePoint instances into their "more robust, secure and centrally administered content repositories and records management regimes" (another shared script). Thankfully, they didn't say a word about the risk of incarceration.Compliance mandates and legal risks are a big focus here at the AIIM show in Boston. Also everywhere - the keynote lineup, the press room, the collateral material, etc. - are presentations, announcements and references to Microsoft SharePoint. I'll get to SharePoint and parallels between BI and content management in a moment, but first a few thoughts on fear mongering.

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