Enterprise Content Management Overview

You may have seen the series of documentaries on Enterprise Content Management titled The Hunger Games. Only the first two movies have been released, but you can read the books for the full story.  

In case you haven't seen or read The Hunger Games, here is the synopsis. An evil document management dictator hosts an annual competition where 2 enterprise content management system users are selected from each of 12 departments to participate in a competition where everyone must fight to the death until one person survives. We all know this represents the dictator's imposition of his will to control the documents and collaboration of the 12 departments. But this causes pain and suffering for the users who find it hard to do their work and be productive due to all the complexities and policies. I don't want to spoil things, but suffice it to say things go awry for the evil dictatorship when the 12 departments discover SharePoint and the power of ECM for the masses. Overall I give the series 4.5 stars out of 5 thus far, it lost .5 stars because the real life story is even more exciting than the movies.  

(Editor's note and disclaimer: some liberties were taken here that may not be wholly representative of the actual movie. The Hunger Games may or may not be a documentary based on events in Quentin's life).

You too can have the power of ECM for the masses. Don't be seduced by the power of the dark side and serve the evil document management dictator. (Editor's note: Are you mixing movie references?) Use your powers for the forces of collaboration and productivity while keeping your organization compliant and in control.

The vision for Enterprise Content Management in SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Office 365 is for users to share and work together, administrators can keep things managed and build focused solutions to meet organizational needs, all while compliance specialists can protect their organization.

I have a broad definition of Enterprise Content Management because most of the content is where users create it, and that is where you also want to apply ECM. You can’t just have your own perfect little ECM world with a dictator mandating everything. You will be missing out on 90% of the data and 90% of the value or users will just not use the system. You need to think about collaboration, social, and compliance.

ECM has several areas, all of which are interrelated:

  • Productivity and Collaboration
  • Social
  • Search
  • Web content management
  • Digital asset management
  • Document management
  • Information governance
  • Business Process Management
  • Compliance and Records Management

Here is a quick overview of each area.

Productivity and Collaboration

Do I even need to say much here? This is probably why you are already using SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync. People can upload documents, share with others, coauthor documents, conduct Lync meetings online, and message each other. You can even use site mailboxes to see SharePoint content in Exchange and mail content in SharePoint.


With Microsoft’s acquisition of the leading enterprise social platform, Yammer, Microsoft has the leading solution for enterprise social. People can share broadly within their organization and create groups to have discussions. The conversations are kept and open so when that new guy joins the team, he can read what happened in the past.


SharePoint has the leading enterprise search system, FAST. FAST is now built in with SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013, and Office 365. You can use search portals to search your enterprise, use the eDiscovery center to perform eDiscovery, and optimize search with refiners and content search web parts in specific solutions such as video or knowledge management portals to customize the search UI to meet your needs.

Web content management

SharePoint is based on web pages and has an extensible platform for building websites. But you aren’t even surprised to know many websites on the Internet including http://www.ferrari.com are built on SharePoint. Page layouts, rich text editing, publishing workflows, and language translation all help you build and author great websites.

Digital asset management

Managing images and videos in SharePoint is a breeze with the asset library, thumbnail views for images, and video sets where you can store videos and related collateral and create your own video and asset portal. You can even connect SharePoint videos to Azure Media Services to do all sorts of awesome things.

Document management

Manage your documents with content types to control metadata, taxonomy so users can tag their documents, in line list editing, external sharing, list filtering, search, and integration in the Office clients to make saving to SharePoint easy.

Information governance

Site policy and information management policy help you control the cleanup of data while content types, content type syndication, and taxonomy help you control classifications and metadata available for items and documents.

Business Process Management

Workflows, information management policies, Exchange Web Services, Exchange remote PowerShell, SharePoint Client Side Object Model, and SharePoint App Model all help you build solutions to manage business processes. This provides awesome opportunities for you and partners around the world who create SharePoint solutions to get content into SharePoint and help manage it.

Compliance and Records Management

This is all about keeping your organization in control and following the right organizational policies and industry regulations. There are many areas of compliance and records management.

  • eDiscovery
  • Archiving
  • Data loss prevention
  • Retention (Expiration / Deletion)
  • Hold (Preservation)
  • Auditing
  • Device management
  • Encryption
  SharePoint 2007 SharePoint 2010 SharePoint 2013
Productivity Team Sites Blogs & Wikis My Sites Document Coauthoring Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint Web Apps Office Backstage Connect to Office Document library synch OneDrive for Business
Social Activity feeds Interests and responsibilities Tags Newsfeeds Yammer Communities
Search Built in Search Customizable Search UI FAST Search for SharePoint Boolean query syntax Refinement panel People search Improved relevance Content Search Web Part Search refinements FAST Search built in Continuous crawling Improved relevance Improved search UI
WCM Page Layouts Page Authoring & Workflow One-click page creation Dynamic page layouts Improved rich text editor Improved browser support Richer publishing & variations Cross-site publishing Design manager Mobile device customization Managed navigation CSOM and JavaScript development
Digital assets   Media web part Asset library Asset picker Thumbnails and metadata extraction Video sets and portals
Document Mgmt Content types and metadata Document libraries Managed metadata Content type hub Metadata Navigation Content Query Webpart 30 million items per library List quick edit 1TB site collections & unlimited size tenants in O365 60 million items per site collection
Governance Site use confirmation   Site policies to delete entire site
BPM Approval, feedback, disposition workflows Create workflow in Visio SharePoint Designer workflow builder New workflow architecture Workflow Manager SharePoint App Model
Compliance Information Rights Management   Site mailboxes Rights management connector
Records Mgmt Record Router Send to Records Centre Content Organizer In-place records anywhere Library File Plan Reports Records Centre improved Distributed records centers Records Centre Available in Office 365
eDiscovery Block edit and delete in Records Centre Use search to add items to hold within a site collection eDiscovery Center case mgmt. Search across site collections Export In-place hold
Archiving Records Centre Site Template Improved send to any site Send To in Office 365
Retention Content type and metadata based deletion Multi stage Folder & content type based Available in all sites Site policies delete entire site
Auditing Auditing in Records Centre Available in all sites Per item auditing  


That about sums it up, enterprise content management is a huge area and I look forward to sharing more about how to do it with Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and Yammer on this blog. Thanks for reading and may the ECM ever be in your favor.


Quentin Christensen, Program Manager