Initially designed to support businesses create Web portals, Microsoft SharePoint ECM has been integrated with additional proprietary software to create an ECM suite.
Microsoft progressively entered the electronic content management (ECM) market through internal expansion of its SharePoint product. First released in 2001, SharePoint was initially designed to help companies create Web portals through Microsoft Office.
Over the last decade, content management became a key focus of attention for Microsoft, and they developed SharePoint into a system, enabling individuals and teams to quickly access important business information securely. The solution progressed, and Microsoft integrated other proprietary software with SharePoint to produce an ECM suite that delivers collaboration, access control, versioning, records management, workflow, indexing and search, audit, electronic forms as well as Web content management.
The key components of the Microsoft SharePoint ECM suite are:
SharePoint Online, a cloud-based service hosted by Microsoft that targets large, medium and small organisations.
SharePoint Foundation, the foundation technology for SharePoint that offers tools for collaboration and document sharing.
SharePoint Server, the underlying package for on-premises use of SharePoint, which provides tools for ECM, business intelligence and enterprise search.
SharePoint Designer 2013, which allows customers to design workflows.
OneDrive for Business, which synchronizes team content to folders for offline use.
Microsoft FAST Search, which provides indexing and efficient search of content of all types.
SharePoint is used by numerous enterprises for needs other than ECM. A large proportion of companies are using SharePoint for its original purpose, which is to make and manage Web portals and to publish Web content. Many others use the tool for collaboration and sharing, without depending on it as a full-blown ECM product.
The Microsoft SharePoint ECM suite integrates with popular Microsoft tools, such as Microsoft Office. Users can access ECM features via Microsoft Word, as well as through Web browsers and use Microsoft Visio as a diagramming tool to design workflows.
Additionally, the ECM suite also integrates with several enterprise applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM).
SharePoint comes with various Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which make it easier to combine more applications. As SharePoint is compatible with the Content Management Interoperability Standard (CMIS), it's relatively easy to integrate with other ECM systems.
The solution offers numerous interfaces for distribution of data with social media platforms -- both publicly through sites, such as Facebook, and confidentially through services, such as Yammer.
Distribution through social media works in both directions so that internal content is automatically posted to social media and relevant external content is retrieved for internal use. SharePoint also provides blogging and Wiki functionality.
In 2016 SharePoint developed new features, which included:
Hybrid deployments that let users enjoy the benefits of cloud while maintaining the level of security they prefer for on-premises systems. The new Hybrid Search feature lets users find content across both on-premises and Office 365 cloud environments with one search.
A new SharePoint mobile app that allows users to access content on iOS, Windows and Android devices.
The SharePoint Framework, which can now support client-side application development.
A new set of controls, access policies and reports that provide enhanced security, privacy and compliance.
Logixal provide a range of ECM services that can integrate with existing infrastructure.
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