The Deliver components of ECM present information from the Manage, Store, and Preserve components. The AIIM component model for ECM is function-based, and doesn’t impose a strict hierarchy; the Deliver components may contain functions used to enter information into other systems (such as transferring information to portable media, or generating formatted output files); or for readying information, such as by converting its format or compressing it, for the “Store” and “Preserve” components. The Deliver category’s functionality is also known as “output”; technologies in this category are often termed output management.

The Deliver components break down into three groups: transformation technologies, security technologies, and distribution. Transformation and security, as services, are middleware and should be equally available to all ECM components. For output, two functions are of primary importance: layout and design, with tools for laying out and formatting output, and publishing with applications for presenting information for distribution and publication.

In short, ECM delivery provides information to users. Secure distribution, collaboration, and version control take the forefront. In some cases, these components are still deployed as stand-alone systems without being incorporated into an enterprise-wide ECM system.

Transformation technologies

Transformations should always be controlled and trackable. This is done by background services which the end user generally does not see. Among the transformation technologies are:

Computer Output to Laser Disc (COLD)
Unlike its use in the Capture stage, when used for delivery COLD prepares output data for distribution and transfer to the archive. Typical applications are lists and formatted output (for example, individualized customer letters). These technologies also include journals and logs generated by the ECM components. Unlike most imaging media, COLD records are indexed not in a database table, but by absolute positions within the document itself (i.e. page 1, line 82, position 12). As a result, COLD index fields are not available for editing after submission unless they are converted into a standard database.

Functions and output can be customized to a particular user’s needs.

  • XML (Extensible Markup Language)

    A computer language that allows the description of interfaces, structures, metadata, and documents in a standardized, cross-platform manner.

  • PDF (Portable Document Format)

    A cross-platform print and distribution format. Unlike image formats such as TIFF, PDFs permit content searches, the addition of metadata, and the embedding of electronic signatures. When generated from electronic data, PDFs are resolution-independent, allowing crisp reproduction at any scale.

  • XPS (XML Paper Specification)

    An XML specification developed by Microsoft, describing the formats and rules for distributing, archiving, rendering, and processing XPS documents.

  • Converters and viewers

    Serve to reformat information to generate uniform formats, and also to display and output information from different formats.

  • Compression

    Used to reduce the storage space needed for pictorial information.

  • Syndication

    Used for presenting content in different formats, selections, and forms in the context of content management. Syndication allows the same content to be used multiple times in different forms for different purposes.

Security technologies

Security technologies are available to all ECM components. For example, electronic signatures are used not only when documents are sent, but also in data capture via scanning, in order to document the completeness of the capture. Public key infrastructure is a basic technology for electronic signatures. It manages keys and certificates, and checks the authenticity of signatures. Other electronic signatures confirm the identity of the sender and the integrity of the sent data, i.e., that it is complete and unchanged.

In Europe, there are three forms of electronic signatures, of different quality and security: simple, advanced, and qualified. In most European states the qualified electronic signature is legally admissible in legal documents and contracts.

Digital rights management and watermarking are used in content syndication and media asset management, to manage and secure intellectual property rights and copyrights. Digital rights management works with techniques like electronic watermarks that are integrated directly into the file, and seeks to protect usage rights and protect content that is published on the Internet.


All of the above technologies serve to provide an ECM’s contents to users by various routes, in a controlled and user-oriented manner. These can be active components such as e-mail, data media, memos, and passive publication on websites and portals where users can get the information themselves. Possible output and distribution media include:

  • The Internet
  • Extranets
  • Intranets
  • E-business portals
  • Employee portals
  • E-mail
  • Fax
  • Data transfer by EDI
  • XML or other formats
  • Mobile devices, like mobile phones, PDAs, and others
  • Data media like CDs and DVDs
  • Digital TV and other multimedia services
  • Paper

The various Deliver components provide information to users in the best way for the given application, while controlling its use as far as possible.


On-premise ECM was developed as a traditional software application that companies implemented on their own corporate networks. In this scenario, each individual company manages and maintains both the ECM application, and the network storage devices that store the data. Many on-premise ECM systems are highly customized for individual organizational needs. A note about Capture: since paper document capture requires the use of physical scanning devices, like scanners or multi-function devices, it is typically performed on-premise. However, it can be outsourced to businesses that provide scanning services. Known as Service Bureaus, these companies complete high-volume scanning and indexing and return the electronic files to organizations via web transfer or on CDs, DVDs, or other external storage devices.

Software as a service (SaaS)) SaaS ECM means that rather than deploying software on an in-house network, users access the application and their data online. It is also known as cloud computing, hosted, and on demand. As SaaS distribution technologies mature, businesses can count on receiving the same features and customization capabilities they have come to expect from on-premise ECM applications. SaaS delivery allows companies to more quickly begin using ECM, since they do not have to purchase hardware or configure the applications, databases, or servers. In addition, organizations trade the capital costs associated with a hardware and software purchase for a monthly operating expense and storage capabilities that grow automatically to accommodate company growth.

Hybrid) In some scenarios, companies find a hybrid composed of both SaaS and on-premise software work best for their situation. For example, hybrid ECM systems are being used to bridge the gap during company moves or to simplify information exchange following an acquisition. Hybrid is also being used when companies want to manage their own ECM on-premise, but also provide easy web access to certain information for business partners or customers using a SaaS model. The Hybrid option makes the most sense when the two technologies are provided by the same manufacturer. In this way, features and interfaces are an exact match.

ECM market development

Gartner estimated that the ECM market was worth approximately $3.3 billion in 2008; this was expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 percent through 2013. After a plethora of industry consolidation, only three or four major companies are left in this space, and the industry as a whole is undergoing a significant transformation as Microsoft commoditizes content-management components.

According to Gartner’s 2009 report, 75 percent of Global 2000 companies were highly likely to have a desktop-focused, process-focused content management implementation by 2008, and ECM would continue to absorb other technologies, such as digital asset management and e-mail management. Gartner also predicted that there will be further market consolidation, acquisition, and separation of vendors into platform and solution providers.

Enterprise Information Management (EIM) is gaining more interest from organizations trying to approach information management (whether structured or unstructured) from an enterprise perspective. EIM combines ECM and business intelligence.

Cloud content management is emerging as a web-based alternative, combining the content focus of ECM with the collaborative elements of social business software.