To understand the differences between content management (CM) and content services (CS), we must first understand the definitions of each. For this I will turn to AIIM and refer to the article posted in 2020 that defines Enterprise Content Management (ECM) as “the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. It's the architecture that glues your documents and business content together — making them searchable, explorable, organized and ultimately, meaningful.”
When looking at content services, Gartner’s definition is “content services are a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.”
The reason I chose these two definitions is that they show some of the differences and they are also complimentary in nature. In the AIIM definition of ECM, we see a broader — more holistic — perspective in that it focuses on the architectural construct of an enterprise content management environment. It encompasses strategic design, operational processes and procedures, the tools or technologies used and the goals and benefits upon which ECM is intended and expected to deliver.
Regarding the content services definition, we see a more technology-centric reference aimed at delivering the same fundamental goals and benefits, aligned with those of the AIIM ECM definition. As such, one can view these as the tools used in the management of various content types, expanding the content infrastructure to include both cloud-based and on-premises applications and content sources.
In My View
Regardless of your view on CM and CS, the focus is on the management of vital organizational information regardless of what it is and where it resides within the information ecosystem. The result is to get the right information to the right people, at the time they need it, securely and accurately.
There are many times I have heard discussions and even been asked what I think of content management vs. content services. As stated in this article, I do not see them as one vs. the other but consider them to be complimentary in accordance with the definitions I have presented here.
While I provided my high-level view of this topic, an expanded discussion would delve deeper to include governance, security and content creation and destruction. It would span the birth of content, how it is created and what purpose it serves, to the death of that same content, when it gets destroyed and how this destruction is carried out and documented. In other words, we would be discussing the full content lifecycle.
I hope this has helped point out some of the differences, and I know this is my view and there are others who may provide a different view, but the bottom line is to focus on developing a strategy, infrastructure and information ecosystem that meets your organizational and operational requirements.
In the end, it is your decision how to move your organization forward in transitioning to a more automated, secure and beneficial information management environment.
Inducted into the AIIM Company of Fellows in 2019, Bob Larrivee is a recognized expert in the application of advanced technologies and process improvement to solve business problems and enhance business operations. In his career, Bob has led many projects and authored hundreds of eBooks, Industry Reports, Blogs, Articles, and Infographics. In addition, he has served as host and guest Subject Matter Expert on a wide variety of webinars, Podcasts, Virtual Events, and lectured at in-person seminars and conferences around the globe.