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ECM industry body mooted

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The establishment of an industry body to unite the South African enterprise content management (EMC) industry in its quest for overseas business would boost the local economy by creating jobs and providing workers with marketable skills. 

This is according to Ronald Melmed, MD of Digital Archiving Systems (DAS), who believes that local contact centre industry associations and international ECM industry associations could serve as useful models for a South African ECM representative body.
The South African Contact Centre Community (SACCOM) has been pivotal in marketing South Africa as a quality business process outsourcing (BPO) destination while the International Association of Information and Image Management (AIIM) has provided market education, peer networking, professional development, and industry advocacy in over 150 countries for more than 60 years.
“Combine the approaches of these two organisations and apply them to the unique challenges of the local ECM industry and you have a potential smorgasbord of opportunities,” says Melmed.
Many benefits are realised when industries organise themselves. For example, the AIIM Best Practices Awards recognise achievements in enterprise content management (ECM) and judge certain processes leading to the establishment of de facto standards and a desire to outdo the competition.
A local ECM forum should ideally provide access to a wide variety of important industry information such as the latest news, research, events, vacancies, message boards, training and more.
In the past five years the South African call centre and BPO industries have more than doubled in size, luring international investors in the process. It is often predicted that as many as 100 000 direct and indirect jobs will be created in this sector by 2010.
Statistics show that the ECM industry currently employs less that 5 000 people in South Africa.
DAS believes that for further job creation to take place in the industry and for it to compete on a global scale, a greater support structure needs to be put in place through the collaboration of both the government and the private sector, as has been the case in the BPO sector. Impressive strides are being made towards this goal with the recent announcement by the government of their need for an ECM system to be developed and maintained for the 2010 World Cup government website.
The ECM industry has been described as one which takes the headache out of mountains of paper by turning them into useful information that integrates seamlessly into company processes. For its part, AIIM defines ECM as “the technologies used to Capture, Manage, Store, Preserve, and Deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organisation's unstructured information, wherever that information exists.”
Regarding a way forward, Melmed suggests that peopleinterested in the establishment of a local ECM association should contribute to various online forums in order to test the waters and to network with like-minded individuals.