Monday, December 25, 2006

Wikis and Blogs in a Regulated Environment

www.I saw a blog item the other day, discussing John Shackleton's (Open Text CEO) interview on Red Herring. The blog discusses Open Text's claim of being nearly done with the integration of Hummingbird, and also some of Shackleton's comments about wikis and blogs. To be fair, Shackleton's comments were not an in-depth analysis of what Open Text thinks of this new trend. However, I do think this is emblematic of what is the view of any established software vendor. They are not the quickest to embrace the new ways and technology trends.

I think that a lot of ECM solutions tend to miss the vital final piece of the puzzle - the people interfacing with the systems. Although the constant mantra of regulatory compliance driving the ECM market is good for selling software, it misses the whole idea of knowledge management/collaboration that is such a obvious off-shoot here, thereby under-selling the capabilities of the platform. The ECM solution might be initially deployed to address regulatory compliance, but most end-users use such systems extensively to collaborate with their colleagues (and in our experience adoption of an ECM platform is greater if it offers such ancillary benefits), and to share knowledge within an organization. The ability to access information and reuse some of the relevant pieces bring enormous value to users in all industry vertical.

We also believe that people want to collaborate, or at least they should collaborate, in their work. An ECM platform with workflow capabilities, document management and collaboration functionality integrated together provides the best system for collaboration amongst teams in the same building, across the country or across the world.

That brings me to wikis and blogs. I think a solution where blogs and wikis are integrated into the ECM platform are key to efficient collaboration. These are proving to be a great asset the world over, and I see no reason to claim that they cannot be deployed in a regulatory environment.

Livelink solutions that address compliance can easily stand side-by-side with Livelink based collaborative spaces, and there are multiple instances of this in the industry. Further, with some work blogs/wikis can be integrated with the regulated side of the solution. Even Records Management principles can be applied, and we at Indigo Arc are building solutions that do just this. In fact, my premise is that given the wide use of blogs and wikis - especially blogs, a company that operates in a regulated industry cannot afford to NOT have the blogs integrated into the ECM platform. Having these integrated into the platform allows clients to monitor and manage the information in the blogs to a greater extent, thereby both encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing as well as protecting the intellectual property of the company. And they can better protect themselves against legal and other regulatory non-compliance issues as well.

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