Digital Content: Confused Yet? I Am

January 19, 2021

I read “CMS Vs. DMS: Understanding the Key Differences.” The write up did not unlock my understanding. From my vantage point, there is a trade association called ARMA. You can get information about this organization from its Web site. As I recall, there are individuals who receive certification to deal with certain types of “records”; for example, nuclear power plant information. Other groups get involved with the nuclear industry, and there are hoops through which one can jump to figure out how to keep track of engineering change orders, the entities touching specialized components, and figure out who has been trained on what.

I am not exactly sure how other entities got involved in some of these often complicated tracking and managing functions. An organization called the Association for Intelligent Information Management used to be called something else. Maybe “imaging” when that seemed to be a great way to get members and run conferences.

What’s this abbreviated history have to do with the CMS versus DMS thing?

Yep, that’s a very good question. For the life of me, it seems as if document management evolved from the records management effort. But the document management experts quickly figured out that lawyers and pharmaceutical companies had to keep track of their information and had some specialized needs which ARMA either couldn’t or didn’t want to upset its apple cart.

Then the Web happened and the content produced for Web pages was even crazier and more disorganized, volatile, and multi-media enhanced than anything the vendors of software and services for nuclear, pharma, and legal eagle sectors possessed.

Enter content management systems. Wow. These were often tricky beasts, whether it was the wonderful Broadvision or the more Volkswagenish Ektron, a new business was born. The customers for CMS were not nuclear types or the chemical structure folks inventing drugs to help people at very reasonable cost absolutely everywhere.

Now let’s get the straight scoop from the CMS versus the DMS write up. Ready? Here we go:

The differences between document and content management systems are nuanced and depend on the scale to which you are using them…

I interpret this to mean that there is no difference. Your mileage may vary.

And how about this:

Where a DMS excels is at the preservation and organization of company documents (records), a CMS is often focused at content presented at websites, which is not specifically locked in individual documents, according to Elmendorp [another expert]

But what about systems focused on company records. Maybe the type of records the ARMA professionals are trained to manipulate, archive, and retrieve?

But do these systems work? Ho, ho, ho.

But here’s the key to the “key” in the title:

Where BPM, EFSS and CCM Fit In

What? What are these acronyms? But even more stunning is the inclusion of “multi-repository search tools known as Enterprise Search.”

Whoa, Nellie! Enterprise search is a solution to the management of content within an organization. News flash! Enterprise search is a utility often embedded in crazy software wrappers to allow someone to have a shot at locating the information needed to answer a business question or an eDiscovery mandate. Chemical structures, linked engineering change orders? Ho, ho, ho.

Who can figure out the differences, whether “key” or not?

Gartner. A diffused group of experts who have to sell information about the vendors to the potential licensees of these systems.

Confusion is the fertilizer for growing consulting revenues. What’s the “key”? Hire consultants. There you go. Insight.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2021


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