by Megan Santosus

Procter & Gamble’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System

May 15, 20032 mins
Data Center

Craig Bailey was drowning in a sea of digital documents. “We had content spread across different applications, which meant we had knowledge we couldn’t make good use of,” says Bailey, director of corporate intranet applications at Procter & Gamble. Besides representing a treasure trove of knowledge, that dispersed data caused support and validity headaches.

To get a better handle on its content, the consumer goods company began installing an enterprise content management (ECM) system from Stellent in May 2002. The software, now in the rollout phase, will eventually let P&G’s 100,000 employees pull content from the back-end system into their application of choice.

The amount of content employees generate and store is on the rise, and most of that is not structured or stored in such a manner that it’s easily accessible. According to Meta Group, more than 80 percent of the information that knowledge workers need is unstructured?meaning stored as e-mail, Word documents, images, multimedia or other digital formats. Because of this growth of unstructured content, the market for ECM systems is poised to take off. In a survey of 400 companies, Meta found that ECM is the top priority in 2003 for companies with more than 5,000 employees. ECM, which Meta defines as technology to enable information life cycle management?the creation, storage, retrieval and distribution of information?promises to trim costs and improve collaboration.

Vendors are starting to pay attention. Andrew Warzecha, Meta’s senior vice president and service director of e-business strategies, says vendors will begin offering ECM suites this year. By 2004, he expects the ECM market will be worth about $10 billion per year.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, vice president of research and consulting at Ovum, sees a rougher road ahead for ECM. “Getting benefits from ECM systems will require an understanding of the business and some organizational changes to how work gets done,” he says.

At P&G, an early ECM adopter, organizational issues have already cropped up, Bailey says. To enable corporatewide content searches, for example, P&G will have to enforce a strict taxonomy across applications. Bailey says this has already met with some resistance among P&G’s user community.