Enterprise content management (ECM) is the collection, storage, and utilization of data for the execution of business processes and workflows.
ECM supports data governance efforts though structured features that control and execute business rules around the lifecycle of data, including where to store data, how to archive it, and when to destroy it. ECM is traditionally concerned with information in unstructured documents such as email, instant messages, or video, but it can also include structured data.
ECM is used by organizations that want to create a robust information management competency but are concerned about the costs to extract information from unstructured sources and/or have strict regulatory compliance obligations. ECM reduces the overall cost of information management and can provide user access controls over sensitive information which is required by many federal regulations such as HIPPA and Sarbanes-Oxley.
ECM can support many business processes with greater efficiency due to digitization of information from unstructured data sources. For example, an ECM solution can provide searchable text descriptions of security video. ECM digitizes and manages microfilm for libraries. ECM is used by banks to store cancelled checks. It is also used to digitize printed paperwork and hand-written documents.