The definition currently supported by the ECM industry’s advocate, the Association of Information and Image Management (AIIM):
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes.
ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization’s unstructured information, wherever that information exists.
Note that AIIM’s definition of ECM does not explicitly articulate the concepts of sharing and collaboration. Those are buried deep in the concept of delivery, alongside structured content and document approval and publishing workflows.
Cloud Content Management, on the other hand, is not focused on controlling the movement of content through well-defined business processes or through a preconceived lifecycle; the primary emphasis is on flexible sharing of active content. Cloud Content Management does support simple content-centric workflows such as commenting, editing, and approval processes. However, unlike ECM, Cloud Content Management solutions enable rapid, frictionless sharing of content within organizations and between them.
It is best to view Cloud Content Management as complementary to ECM. ECM is often the preferred solution in cases where paper-based documents and forms need to be digitized, content needs to be tightly coupled with specific business processes, and business records need to be maintained and discoverable to comply with imposed regulations. Cloud Content Management solutions are a cost-effective, complementary approach to use when individuals need to share content across organizational structures and firewalls to fuel innovation and responsiveness, deliver work-in-process, and resolve business process exceptions.
Common content collaboration patterns now treated as ad hoc workflows could be codified into standardized, yet flexible rule-based processes. For example, if an individual could subscribe to a specific content tag, she could be automatically notified and served a link whenever a new, publicly-accessible file bearing that tag appeared in the Cloud Content
Management system. In effect, this would automate the sharing of that file, replacing the all-too-common practice of manually emailing the file to a poorly constructed and maintained distribution list.