ECM vs CSP Solutions: 7 Key Differences

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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Gartner officially retired the term ECM in December 2016 and replaced it with Content Services Platform. Since the announcement, many professionals in the field have needed to understand the difference between CSP and ECM (CSP vs ECM).

Content services platforms are built specifically for enterprise settings where there are multiple users who need to be able to manage their own set of content. ECM systems can also provide the same functionality, but they are not designed with this in mind.

Traditional ECM systems rely on providing a centralized repository for all enterprise digital content, and while many companies have seen success with this strategy, there is a need for new information management practices with the ability to efficiently handle all of the content being created today, including video, audio, social media, and so on.

Having completed that there was a necessity for a vision modification of how organizations are managing their content especially that info generated is predicted to become large, Gartner has introduced a brand new term Content Services Platform that has similar goals however completely different approach from enterprise content management.

In this article, we will discover the key differences between CSP vs ECM.

ecm vs csp

What are content services?

Content services platform is “a set of services and micro services, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.”

In a simple definition, it is the next generation of ECM system based on a single API.

CSP solutions support multiple repositories, endpoints, and business cases permitting them to be utilized in totally different departments.

We can all agree that the term “content services platforms” is confusing, right? The last thing we need in this field is different terminologies that make it difficult for common mortals to understand.

What is ECM?

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the process of managing content across an enterprise. It manages and structures information to better support business processes. ECM is not just about the storage of documents, but it also includes their management, security, and accessibility.

The ECM system can be used to create a central repository for all types of documents such as scanned paper documents, email messages, web pages, images and video files. These are all stored in an electronic format that can be easily retrieved from anywhere in the world with internet access.

ECM vs CSP (Content Service Platform)

In a broader view, the two may look alike however there are significant differences. The main difference between these CSP and ECM is that enterprise content management focuses on the storage of data while content services platform focuses on managing the data in an efficient way.

The top 7 key differences between CSP and ECM are:

1- Single vs Connected Information Sources

As mentioned above, ECM systems were designed with the main focus of having all organization digital content stored in a single repository.

However, organizations ended up adopting more than 2 systems to manage content.

Did you know 52% of organizations have 3 or more ECM/DM/RM systems, and 22% have 5+ systems.

CSP connects all information sources and allows users to access content stored in an old ECM system.

In addition to data stored in a legacy application all from a single location.

2- Multiple End Points

An ECM system has one interface most probably a web portal to allow users to manage their organization’s content.

Content services platforms focus on delivering information to the right recipients (users, legacy applications, etc.) at the right time and the right place.

Users can access content from a web portal, mobile app, Office add-ons, and third-party application integration.

3- One Center API

One API is used in all the above possible mentioned endpoints to access your information.

That may certify all the business rules to be managed the same way in all these different endpoints.
Additionally, these API or REST services can offer your organization the power to integrate with a totally different line of business applications used across departments.

4- Integration with 3rd Party Applications

Today employees use a variety of business applications during their day to day activities and content services platform provide integration with most common line of business applications to move content around. Major integrations available are with Office365, SAP, Salesforce, EFSS tools, etc.

Some major ECM system providers have also addressed the integration with major business applications to help their users access and circulate content efficiently.

5- Customizable User Interface

Through decades, enterprise-related systems suffered from the lack of a fresh user interface. Content services platform providers are concentrating more on the user experience to help users achieve their daily work.

Content services platform should have a customizable user interface allowing the portal administrators to configure it as per department needs.

6- Artificial Intelligence Adoption

Artificial intelligence is improving our daily quality of life and can play an enormous role in information management which will result in improved productivity, improved efficiency, and reduce cost.

Using advanced cognitive technologies will allow the content services platform to automate classification, automate capturing (single and in batch), extract metadata, content redaction (hide personal identification information), and a lot more.

7- Low-Code Process Automation

A major capability is the ability to allow citizen developers to create applications to address departmental business needs without much development.

Content services platform providers offer full graphical workflow and form designers with advanced capabilities to quickly access and route content across different stakeholders.

Most ECM system providers have a complete business process management (BPM) module which will allow to automate processes and router information but it needs more advanced development skills.


Both platforms have similar goals but each solution provides a different approach to manage the information chaos in organizations. That is why it is very important to know the differences between ECM and CSP even if we don’t agree on the newest terminology.

What is a CSP platform?

A content services platform is a software that provides a single point of access to all the content and services. It simplifies the process of managing multiple channels and publishing content to them.

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