The IT industry is constructed of three-letter acronyms (TLAs). However, the total number of possible three-letter abbreviations using the 26 letters of the alphabet is only 17,576. This explains the stars-wearing-the-same-dress types of incidents in the IT world. When Sherry Fox discussed ECM and EIM, the acronyms represented enterprise compensation management and enterprise incentive management respectively. In this blog, the two “dresses” are worn by two different stars—enterprise content management and enterprise information management.
In Sherry’s blog post, the two TLAs are logically parallel. The concepts of enterprise compensation management and enterprise incentive management are both from the area of human resources (HR), with perspectives that overlap as well. In this blog, ECM and EIM, however, are on two different levels. To be more specific, the concept is that ECM is an important building block of the broader EIM perspective.
So, What Is Enterprise Content Management?
the strategies, methods, and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization’s unstructured information, wherever that information exists…
According to this definition, content and documents are the objects being managed. This factor differentiates ECM systems from most of the other management systems. Not quite clear what I’m talking about? Taking a look at the two categories of data in the enterprise environment will help.
Not very precisely (but practically), data is divided into structured data and unstructured data (for more information, see Wikipedia’s entries on structured data and unstructured data). Different types of management systems have different coverage of the two categories.
For example, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems generally focus on structured transactional data. On the other hand, ECM systems have more focus on managing unstructured data (e.g., natural language text, images, videos, documents). In addition, there are also systems covering both—for example, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems. You can find out more about ECM by visiting TEC’s Content Management System (CMS) Evaluation Center.
And, What Is Enterprise Information Management?
Compared with ECM, EIM is more difficult to define, due to a lack of consensus in the industry. Wikipedia defines EIM as “a field of interest… in finding solutions for optimal use of information within organizations.” So, understanding “information within organizations” is a prerequisite for understanding EIM.
In today’s enterprise environment, information is hidden behind both structured and unstructured data. Let’s take a look at a simplified example. In order to make a decision on an advertising budget for the next season, a marketing manager will probably need the following information:
This list could go on and on, but the main idea here is to show that decision makers (as well as people in daily operations) need information from different sources.
On the structured data side, thanks to business intelligence (BI), today’s business users have a powerful and efficient way (relatively speaking) to navigate through the vast data generated by the many management systems in use and receive good quality information.
For unstructured data, ECM is the usual tool of choice.
Simply speaking, EIM is another layer on top of BI and ECM, or an integrated combination of BI and ECM that facilitates the generation and use of valuable information from various data sources.
Besides ECM and BI, other technologies (such as master data management [MDM], metadata management, and enterprise portals), IT infrastructure strategies, and IT governance are also parts of the EIM equation.
Is EIM Just Another Marketing Buzzword?
Anyone who answers “yes” has probably had the experience of seeing a vendor use EIM as a marketing tool to repackage ECM or BI offerings. This reminds me of a similar situation where a product data management (PDM) vendor switched its label to PLM overnight without changing the actual offering.
Although there are different opinions about what EIM should be, it is certain that ECM (or BI) alone are not sufficient to meet true EIM requirements. Similarly, simply packaging the two together will not make a good EIM solution. Here’s my take on EIM:
For further reading, I recommend Enterprise Information Management: Information Virtualization for a Unified Business View. Created by EMC, this is one of the best EIM documents I have found on the Internet.
Now for a little fun. In the IT world, are there any interpretations of ECM or EIM other than the ones Sherry and I have discussed? Please let us know in the comment section of this blog…
So what is the difference ?
Are you suggesting read more and it is up to us to decide. What a useless waste of time. Please do not blog if you don’t know how to blog. You choose an interesting topic but give zero insight. Thank you for nothing.
Dear Mr Wong,
Sorry that this blog post didn’t provide the information that you wanted to read. When writing this, I was expecting to bring some elementary understanding to some readers who didn’t have much exposure to the two concepts. I hope some of my future blog posts will have better chances to meet your advanced requirements. Thank you for your comment.
Dear Kurt Chen,
Ever seen the Information Agenda topic of IBM?
Please look at it. Thanks.
Great concise article,
The key to understanding it properly it to detect the subtle us of the words ‘Structured’ and ‘Unstructured’ in the closing paragraphs. I suspect Mr Wong did not pick up on this.
In a Nutshell,
> Structured data is generally managed by a end-to-end BI eco-system (inc. LOB apps, DW, MDM, reporting, governance)
> Unstructured data is generally loosely managed (lives on file shares etc..) but can also be managed by a end-to-end ECM systems (i.e. SharePoint), and may have it’s tentacles in areas such as MDM and Records management concepts such a disposal/retention dependant on the maturity of the implementation.
> EIM = Unstructured + Structured data management, ot BI + ECM
Other implementations of ECM / EIM, well it’s not quite as black and white as you propose, tool such as SharePoint help the ‘transition’ of unstructured-structured data via meta data tagging (classification) of unstructured documents.
In mature organisations BI and ECM in are simply information discovery and delivery mechanisms against a composite BPM defined / SOA enabled eco-system, underpinned by an enabling EA. Acronym soup anyone ?
Head of Architecture
Unique World, Sydney
I was Trained in EIM stream but now going to be alloted to ECM project, so , found this blog while searching for some key differences. First of all am feeling nice to know that there is not as much difference as i was thinking bcoz i loved EIM field. Its a nice article , a lots of key concepts in a nutshell. thanks for the post.
ECM vs. EIM » The TEC Blog…