November 8, 2017

ECM – We need another acronym

Harvey Gross | VP of Content Services Solutions
reduce risk, go paperless

At least I think we need one to describe/represent a subset of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) space.  Gartner says that ECM is dead and it is being replaced by Content Services.  OK – but that really doesn’t help at all.  The subset of the ECM space I’m talking about is what used to be called COLD.

The acronym COLD represents Computer Output to Laser Disk and makes about as much sense, if not more, than any other acronym.  When computer generated documents (primarily reports and customer facing communications) became so voluminous as to make continued storage on paper impractical and Computer Output Microfilm (COM) and microfiche was recognized as having the same problems as paper (just smaller), a new method of electronic document storage was developed.

COLD made use of relatively new technology that allowed electronic information to be stored by using a laser to burn pits or divots in a plastic-coated metal disk.  The disk was spun at fairly high speed and the laser either burned pits, through the plastic, into the metal disk or, at a lower power, identified (read though the plastic) the pits in the metal.  The pits translated into information.  With magnetic (disk) storage being as costly as it was, the relatively low cost, high density storage of laser, optical disk made a very large impact in the subset of the ECM space concerned with the storage of “born digital” electronic documents.

Although improvements in laser, optical disk hardware were made to increase density and retrieval speed, the improvements could not compete with the rapidly decreasing cost of magnetic storage. The CD or DVD is a type of optical disk still in use but, in the big scheme of things laser optical disk, as commercial long-tern storage device, had a very short life span.  And with the demise of the laser disk as a storage device for the billions of pages of reports and statements that are produced every month, so went the last acronym that accurately described the both the process and the market space.

Based on the change in technology, COLD just wouldn’t work anymore.  So, folks in the industry came up with Enterprise Report Management or ERM.  However this term just didn’t stick!  It may have been confusing because the term ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning was coined about the same time, or it have been that Gartner didn’t approve.

Gartner did come up with another acronym that seemed to make sense – IDARS. That represents Integrated Document Archive and Retrieval System.  Gartner defined it this way - A consolidated system for storage, access, management and viewing of data that is often print-stream-originated. Leading uses of IDARS include mission-critical customer service support, electronic bill presentment, management and distribution of report data (e.g., mainframe output, transaction logs and financial reports) and long-term archiving of historical data.

But the days of IDARS are over. Gartner stopped producing the IDARS Magic Quadrant several years ago. A few other names and acronyms have been tried and we’ll examine those in my next post.  In the meantime, I think we need another acronym.  Anyone have any ideas?

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