Enterprises have been struggling for years to leverage all the information on business processes they have stored away in order to conduct business better. The problem is much of this information is created in unstructured documents, such as spreadsheets and word processing documents, rather than in a database, making it difficult to control and manage.
Several vendors offer enterprise content management (ECM) solutions to deal with unstructured documents, but different vendors' solutions do not talk to each other. Businesses store their unstructured documents in multiple repositories from different vendors, so they have to spend a great deal of time and money to integrate these repositories so they can communicate with one another.
A potential solution, the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) specification, was announced today by tech heavyweights Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and EMC (NYSE: EMC).
"When companies operate in silos, with information scattered throughout the enterprise, it becomes extremely difficult for customers to realize [the information's] full value," Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of Microsoft's office business platform in the vendor's Office SharePoint Server Group said. "By working together, we believe we can enable customers to maximize the use of critical business assets."
CMIS will use Web services and Web 2.0 interfaces to let applications in an enterprise work with multiple ECM repositories from different vendors without as much integration work as is now needed. Currently, every link between systems need a connector, and Microsoft's ECM team blog says this is a problem because each link requires a different connection and connections tend to be specialized.
The specification will also promises to help businesses as they struggle with compliance.
"If you have any form of legal discovery need, or want to implement a policy across your organization that says all contracts must be kept for, say, exactly five years, then having a single archive to store content for longer than the application that created it is quite useful," Richard Anstey, vice president, technology and product strategy for ECM Suite at content management vendor Open Text, (NASDAQ: OTEX) told InternetNews.com.