Enterprise content management (ECM) is slowly becoming an essential part of the corporate architecture as more business-critical content is residing in unstructured formats, such as emails, instant messages, blogs, wikis and, increasingly, voice calls (generated by IP telephony). The advantages that ECM systems offer in handling these content types are numerous, not least because they provide a secure environment in which to store, archive and retrieve information.
However, once content has been checked out of the ECM system, it is difficult to control how it is used, and there are few measures in place to prevent it being altered or illegally distributed. Organisations are therefore trying to establish policies regarding how content is treated both within and outside the organisation.
According to a survey of senior IT managers conducted by enterprise digital rights management vendor SealedMedia, there is widespread concern about the consequences that leaked enterprise content might have for the organisation. In fact, four-fifths of respondents want some kind of mechanism to protect valuable content once it is outside the ECM repository.
“What you want to see happening are the rules pertaining to content being stored and managed within the core ECM system, and the rights management accessing these rules in order to verify how the content should be treated.”
Sarah Kittmer, Ovum
These concerns are leading to adoption of enterprise rights management (ERM) packages – software that monitors and controls content when it leaves the content management system.
But take-up remains slow. Many firms find it cheaper to protect content using readily available technologies, such as encryption, access control and document management systems, says Erica Driver, principal analyst at Forrester Research. But as firms reduce the number of content repositories in the enterprise and focus on ways to get more value out of their intellectual property assets, they will turn to rights-enabled ECM, she says.
Sarah Kittmer, senior analyst at IT consultancy Ovum, agrees that electronic rights management (ERM) will become an important feature of ECM. But she adds: “What you want to see happening are the rules pertaining to content being stored and managed within the core ECM system, and the rights management accessing these rules in order to verify how the content should be treated.”