Last week, I wrote about a strange DRM-esque message that Outlook displayed after I opened an e-mail with a PDF attachement. In all my years of using Outlook, I had never seen this message before and I had no idea why it was showing it to me now. I cancelled-out of the message and everything still worked fine. In that same post, I also pointed to World Wide Web Consortium general counsel Danny Weitzner who was wondering out loud (in a blog) about Adobe's DRM-esque technologies that allow PDF files to "phone home." Not to be outdone in the area of DRMing documents, EMC has apparently tossed its hat into the ring. According to eWeek's Matt Hines:
Utilizing technology gained via the company's March 2006 acquisition of Authentica, EMC launched Documentum Information Rights Management—or IRM—Services and Documentum Records Manager 5.3 on Aug. 7, a pair of offerings that will be sold alongside its ECM (enterprise content management) and records management software with the aim of helping companies get a better handle on the manner in which they organize, share and store data.....As with similar eDRM technologies, such as Adobe's Acrobat 3D platform, introduced earlier this year, the products pledge to help companies better protect sensitive data in business transactions when they are forced to share information with outsiders including partners or customers. By integrating the tools with its existing storage and records management products, EMC is hoping to become an end-to-end provider of document life-cycle technologies.
It's kinda funny.... all you need to do is switch EMC's letters around and you get the acronym for enterprise content management. EMC isn't the only with one with designs on being an end-to-end provider. There is, of course, Adobe and lest we forget whose software is probably the most prodigious generator of business documents in the world and where that little Redmond, WA-based outfit is heading. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Microsoft's general manager for the Office Sharepoint Server Group Jeff Teper regarding the software giant's investements into ECM:
Another differentiator is the synergy we’ve created between ECM and digital rights management solutions by integrating rights-management capabilities with our ECM offering. Customers who need to preserve their intellectual property, keep information confidential or maintain data privacy from the perspective of regulation compliance can use these capabilities to ensure that their content is protected, not only when it’s in the repository but also when that content is downloaded onto an employee’s hard drive or attached to an e-mail. And with XPS (the XML Paper Specification, a new file format that will be available as part of Microsoft Windows Vista and as a new “Save as” option in the Microsoft Office 2007 release), that same level of protection can be extended beyond Microsoft Office documents and applied to many other types of documents.
You may not have heard of XPS, but you may have heard it's codename Metro. So, much the same way there are multiple incompatible DRM schemes in the area of digital entertainment, we're beginning to see some of the same things happen with business documents (albeit with a slight different set of players).
Meanwhile, if you can rethink your document management strategy, I would stongly suggest getting away from proprietary file formats and sharing mechanisms and thinking about something much more lightweight like wikis. See my treatise on knowledge/information centricty vs. document centricity for some ideas on how to stop thinking about documents when you think about organizational knowledge retention. If you're one of those companies paying through the nose (like 6 digits) for some sort of high-brow document management system, you may see how taking the wiki approach may involve a significant cultural change, but a welcome change to the bottom line as well.