What Is Enterprise Content Management (ECM): What It Is & How It Helps In 2023

Anna Fitzgerald
Anna Fitzgerald

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As your business grows, you may find yourself asking, “What is enterprise content management?” This question generally comes up as the volume of information, process, and workflows grows.

person using an enterprise content management system on a computer in an office

You’ll have more documents, more videos, more emails, more forms, more spreadsheets, more presentations, more personnel files, more surveys, more invoices — you get the idea.

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An enterprise content management system will help you reduce the time and resources you spend managing unstructured data by storing all of it in one place. That way, anyone at your organization can access the information they need. With an ECM, your teams will be able to work more collaboratively. All of this is great for your business’s bottom line.

In this post, we’ll cover:

A great ECM should scale as a company grows. To do this, ECM systems combine a robust collection of technologies, workflows, and strategies that a company can use to digitally manage its information.

They also typically support integrations with other tools that can help make enterprise content easier for teams to access at any point in the content lifecycle.

Why Enterprise Content Management Matters

The benefits of enterprise content management likely seem obvious, but there’s more than meets the eye with this type of system.

Your operations team will appreciate having an ECM because they reduce operational costs. How? When your teams can automate tasks in an ECM, you can redirect your team’s effort to other parts of the business that are more important.

Another benefit of an ECM is shared knowledge. When was the last time someone asked you about that end-of-year marketing spreadsheet from two years ago? How much time did you spend looking for it before you admitted it disappeared into the black hole that is your database?

Not only were you unable to find that information, your team now has a gap in their information about the marketing team, which limits their knowledge about past successes and challenges on the team.

Don’t feel bad. It happened to all of us pre-ECM. An organized and streamlined ECM can prevent that from happening in the future.

How an ECM Works

Most ECM systems combine or support integrations with a variety of software tools to help organize and manage unstructured content. These integrations include:

  • Big data tools for storing and analyzing unstructured and structured data.
  • Analytics, data mining, dashboards, and reporting tools to help companies make sense of their structured and unstructured data.
  • Data integration tools for combining data from disparate sources into a single application.
  • Information management tools for tracking structured and unstructured enterprise data throughout its lifecycle.
  • Search and indexing tools for retrieving information from unstructured data files, such as documents, web pages, and photos.

Ideally, your ECM system will provide enough functionality to help you automate repetitive tasks, like data entry. You’ll be able to identify bottlenecks and streamline processes. By doing so, teams can work collaboratively, increase productivity, and reach their goals.

Below, we’ll look at some of the best ECM systems that can help you achieve collaboration and productivity goals.

The Challenges of Starting an ECM System

Enterprise content management systems can solve many problems within your business, but they aren’t perfect. ECMs come with their fair share of challenges that can be overcome with a bit of creativity. Two common challenges include compliance and poor solution onboarding.

Depending on the type of business you work with, you might be required to maintain hard copies of certain documents which don’t have a place in an ECM.

Promissory notes, titles and deeds, tax records, and a business license are some documents that can’t be stored in an ECM system. They will need their own secure place in a physical location.

Migrating all of your data into an enterprise content management system is not an easy task. Many businesses fail the first time they launch an ECM effort.

A lack of communication is usually the culprit. If teams are not asked what they need from an ECM system, then the solution will likely be a poor fit.

Moreover, teams may not receive adequate training on the ECM system. Communicating the need for an ECM, soliciting input from all functional teams, and receiving feedback on team adoption of the ECM can prevent these issues.

Below we’ll look at the features and pricing of each of these ECM systems.

1. CMS Hub Enterprise

enterprise content management, cms hub

With CMS Hub Enterprise, you have complete control over your content and users on up to two brand domains.

You can restrict your HubSpot-hosted pages and blog posts to members only. You can configure the CDN to control how external visitors access your HubSpot-hosted content for an additional layer of protection. You can even build out content on HubSpot and deliver it to visitors on a non-HubSpot-hosted domain.

Internally, you can give your teams different permissions for blog posts, pages, emails, forms, or workflows based on their roles, so they can see and edit only what’s relevant to them.

You can also track down what changes were made to HubSpot content, including pages, modules, blogs, images, CTAs, and more, and by whom.

Finally, you can use serverless functions powered by AWS Lambda to add interactive elements, like event registrations, guest books, and dynamic calculators, to your HubSpot-hosted content, without needing to configure an external server, SSL certificate, or data transfer process.

What we love: That means you can manage your enterprise content in the same place you create it.

G2 Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pricing: $900 per month.

2. Laserfiche

enterprise content management, Laserfiche

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Laserfiche is designed to help your enterprise in three major areas: process automation, content management, and platform services.

With Laserfiche, you can digitally capture, secure, and organize all paper, digital, and mobile content across the enterprise, including documents, images, videos, and more.

You can collaborate with people in an outside organization while setting guidelines for record management to ensure compliance across the enterprise.

You can eliminate manual processes with AI-powered workflows and e-forms. Plus, you can identify inefficiencies and hidden opportunities using the built-in reporting and analytics tools. Combined, these features can help you improve productivity and optimize your operations.

What we love: You can integrate your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, CRM, and other applications using robotic process automation. Leveraging these tools can help fill in the gaps in Laserfiche’s product for managing your customers and business better.

G2 Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Pricing is available upon request.

3. Shopify Plus

enterprise content management, shopify plus

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Shopify Plus is designed to help enterprise-level businesses in e-commerce provide seamless shopping experiences to their customers.

With Shopify’s easy-to-use store editor, you can add augmented reality, video, and 3D on product pages to replicate in-person retail experiences. You can fully customize your checkout with personalized discounts and shipping rates. Or you can allow customers to skip the cart and buy directly from the product page using one-tap, accelerated checkout.

You can also release promotions across multiple channels, automate discounts for specific products or entire product lines, and schedule sales, product releases, and restocks.

Apps — including Launchpad, Shopify Flow, and Scripts — and third-party integrations will enable you to automate customization and extend your site's overall functionality.

You can, for example, plug in your CMS to the Shopify Plus platform, which will help you generate and manage content as you make sales. You can also plug in other business tools and systems, like your CRM and ERP, to have all the tools you need on one platform.

What we love: Shopify Plus takes care of the technical aspects of running an online store at the enterprise level. You can just focus on retail.

G2 Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Plans start at $2,000 per month. Once you pass a certain threshold of monthly revenue, you’ll pay a percentage of that revenue.

4. Xerox DocuShare

enterprise content management, xerox docushare

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Xerox DocuShare combines enterprise content management, process automation, and file sharing under one central platform.

Users can digitize, store, and secure critical business data with automated processes and workflows. Collaboration is a key feature DocuShare supports with its easy-to-use search feature. DocuShare is available as an on-premise software or as a cloud-based solution.

Whether your team chooses to access data from a mobile device or a desktop, Xerox DocuShare supports your business with robust tools to automate processes and support digital collaboration.

G2 Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Pricing is available upon request.

5. Zoho Docs

enterprise content management, Zoho Docs

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If you’re looking for file management for teams and individuals, Zoho Docs is a smart solution. This ECM offers a secure and collaborative workspace where all your data, documents, and information are available in real-time to anyone needing them.

An office suite is included in this enterprise content management system. That includes spreadsheets, slideshows, and word-processing documents. Your team will also have access to a secure file cabinet where they can collaborate and innovate in a secure environment.

G2 Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Pricing is available upon request.

6. eFileCabinet

enterprise content management, eFileCabinet

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Remember earlier when we talked about misplacing that marketing spreadsheet? Those days are long gone with eFileCabinet. This platform offers a feature called Rubex that helps you locate documents that probably ended up in the wrong folder.

You can reimagine your workday by automating workflows and processes that take up hours per week that could be spent on other projects. Like many options in this list, eFileCabinet is compatible with mobile and desktop devices in an app or browser-based interface.

ECM systems aren’t one size fits all, so your business can choose from several solutions, including finance, HR, accounting, and more.

G2 Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Pricing: $55 per month.

7. IBM FileNet Content Manager

enterprise content management, IBM File Net

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With IBM FileNet Content Manager, you can manage all your content from any source. The platform leverages AI to deliver deep insights from unstructured content like videos.

You can also share your content with external users without compromising consistency, organization, or security. Then, you can extract insights from content like invoices, videos, and other unstructured documents.

IBM FileNet Content Manager can be integrated with a CMS, CRM, and other applications in and outside the IBM product suite. This can allow you to create a microsite, keep track of your visitors, and fulfill other business needs.

Keep in mind that integrations require you to use coding tools and modern GraphQL APIs, and those parts don’t always work great together. While this solution excels in terms of security, classification, and encryption, it is not easy to use — even for developers with specialized knowledge.

G2 Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Pricing is available upon request.

8. Adobe Commerce (Formerly Magento Commerce)

enterprise content management, adobe commerce

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Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento Commerce) is a hosted ecommerce platform like Shopify Plus. It offers many of the same features, including instant purchasing, customer segmentation, and automatic inventory management.

What sets Adobe Commerce apart is its robust content creation features. In addition to a drag-and-drop page builder, it also comes with content staging and preview tools, so your teams can easily create, preview, schedule, and update content. This content can be tailored to customers based on their location, lifetime purchase value, and more to provide them with personalized shopping experiences.

You can set automated rules to determine which products to present as up-sells, cross-sells, and related products to different customer segments.

You can set automated rules to determine which products to present as up-sells, cross-sells, and related products to different customer segments.

While these features can help boost your conversion rates, they can be difficult to find and configure since Adobe’s dashboard is less intuitive than Shopify Plus and other ECM systems.

For example, there are over 5,000 extensions available to download, but they aren’t plug-and-play tools that can be activated and deactivated. Instead, they have to be manually coded into your platform. That means it will likely take longer to set up your store.

G2 Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Pricing is available upon request.

9. DocStar ECM

enterprise content management, DocStar ECM

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Designed for midsize organizations of 100 to 1,000+ employees, DocStar ECM helps businesses grow with intelligent data capture, workflow, and retrieval.

DocStar allows you to capture, store, and manage your paper documents and any native file type electronically from any location on any device. You can create and process electronic forms, assign user permissions, search your entire content repository by keyword, and create custom workflows with drag-and-drop technology.

Together, these features will help you reduce errors, improve collaboration, and increase productivity while adhering to corporate or regulatory compliance requirements.

DocStar appeals to enterprise companies in the healthcare, manufacturing, government, banking, and insurance industry. But DocStar can integrate with any business’ existing software applications, including your ERP and CRM, to help better manage users and customers.

G2 Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Pricing is available upon request.

10. Adobe Experience Manager

enterprise content management, Adobe Experience Manager

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Adobe Experience Manager is designed to combine digital asset management with the power of a content management system.

With Adobe Experience Manager, you can create and re-use digital assets (known as “content and experience fragments”) across different channels and devices to streamline your content creation.

These fragments — combined with data integrations, communications management, and advanced targeting — will enable you to deliver personalized experiences to visitors. You can also use AI to automate tagging, workflows, and content distribution so your teams work faster.

Finally, with Adobe’s modular architecture, you never have to plan for product updates or worry about downtime. The platform is designed to auto-scale within seconds so you stay at peak performance.

G2 Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars

Pricing: Pricing is available upon request.

Manage and store your content better.

Any of the ECM systems above will help you find, manage, store, and use all your data in one place. To pick the solution that will help you make better business decisions, make sure its capabilities align with your enterprise needs and goals.

You might need a solution not only with business intelligence tools but website building, SEO, and development tools so you can maximize your digital efforts on an all-in-one platform.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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