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What’s the Difference? Enterprise Content Management vs. Content Management Systems vs. File Sharing Platforms


Bill Dermody
Author: Bill Dermody Date: 04/18/2019

When initially sharing about the capabilities of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), some people have difficulty differentiating between its capabilities compared to some popular cloud storage and file sharing platforms such as Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud and others.

Adding to the confusion are Content Management Systems (CMS) which are used to create, manage and publish online content.

What’s the difference between ECM vs. CMS vs. file sharing platforms, and how can they help you manage an ever-increasing sea of data? While there are some similarities and their names suggest similar capabilities, these various programs all function differently and serve unique purposes for business. When considering which solution is best for your organization, it’s important to understand how each functions and whether it aligns with your long-term strategy in the following areas.

ECM Automation

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of an ECM is its ability to streamline workflows and automate labor-intensive processes for every department. For example, handling invoicing or accounts payable processes often requires repetitive actions each month, and some documentation may be associated with strict approval processes or routing. This opens up opportunities for human error, delays and even lost or misplaced documentation.

ECM technology can digitally capture and import documents and then automate payments for repetitive, pre-approved invoices electronically. It can also route invoices to others as needed and send alerts for those who need to sign off for approval. Real-time visibility allows any authorized user to see where an item is in the approval process and send additional automated alerts if there are delays or if follow up is needed.

CMS Comparison. Automation is typically focused on marketing functionality, including data collection, analysis reports, entering of contacts from online forms, registration and payment processes for events, etc. The robust automation capabilities required for other business processes are generally limited.

File Sharing Platform Comparison. Because most file sharing platforms were designed for consumer use, their business functionality is often limited. Some basic automation can be achieved through the integration of third-party apps, however, maintaining multiple platforms poses potential compatibility issues and duplicate data.

ECM Search Functionality

Within an ECM repository, you can use full-text search or search based on creation date, names of users or any metadata. The latest ECM systems leverage artificial intelligence through voice assist, cognitive computing and machine learning for document retrieval. Even dark data that was previously undiscoverable can be accessed and used to make better business decisions.

CMS Comparison. Since CMS platforms typically don’t integrate an entire organization’s data, the search functionality is limited.

File Sharing Platform Comparison. These platforms have yet to leverage artificial intelligence beyond rudimentary commands and, since rules for file structures are rarely established or enforced, finding documentation can be time consuming and inconsistent.

ECM Security

ECM technology features advanced data encryption to minimize both external and internal threats. Access to view, print, edit or change metadata can be limited to only authorized individuals as needed, minimizing the risks of business interruption and data loss or corruption.

CMS Comparison. Some professional CMS platforms have adequate security measures in place. However, one study found that 73% of all WordPress installations, a popular CMS platform, were vulnerable to hacker attacks.

File Sharing Platform Comparison. Many file sharing programs lack protections against sharing files with unauthorized parties. For many, a simple url link can grant access and, once the url is shared, it’s difficult to control how it is distributed to others. If a person leaves a company, he or she could still have unauthorized access to files.

ECM Compliance

In addition to security measures required for privacy and compliance, documents that are required for audits can be managed and accessed digitally, allowing for reports to be run at the click of a button. Compliance is further streamlined through processes that automatically archive or delete outdated documentation to ensure only the latest version is kept.

Related: How ECM Helps Improve Compliance

CMS Comparison. Because plug-ins or third-party apps are required to fully leverage a CMS’s capabilities, each one may need to be vetted for security and compliance.

File Sharing Platform Comparison. For many organizations that require strict compliance, such as healthcare, education, law firms, etc., conventional file sharing and document storage platforms are insufficient.

When comparing each platform feature by feature for use as a corporate solution, ECM systems far outperform typical CMS or cloud-based file sharing platforms. Furthermore, they can scale with your company and be an integral part of your long-term business strategy. Be sure to check out our infographic to see how ECM can help you navigate through a sea of data. Each company is different and needs varying levels of data management functionality. Contact Gordon Flesch Company for a complimentary consultation and to gain insights into your entire IT environment.

The benefits of ECM for business infographic

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Written by Bill Dermody

Bill joined the Gordon Flesch Company in 2016 as an Enterprise Content Management Consultant. Along with a strong sales and marketing background, Bill has over 20 years experience in the technology industry.

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