Content is one of the most valuable commodities that any business owns. It’s the key driver of customer interactions, the foundation of core business processes, and it helps shape senior-level decision-making. Yet enterprises are clearly challenged by the need to manage large volumes of content in multiple formats – and to do so in a compliant and secure manner.
A recent technology adoption profile study by Forrester Consulting reports: “Sharing content with external parties is becoming the norm. But with that comes expanding regulatory and compliance demands and an increased urgency to protect both customer and enterprise data.” The study identifies the top two content management challenges as ‘providing secure content access to our extended enterprise,’ and ‘meeting expanding regulatory and compliance demands.’
The study found 95% were using more than one system to manage enterprise content, including 31% using five or more systems. This leads to disjointed information and difficult retrieval. In traditional legacy environments therefore, the content management process can become cumbersome and unwieldy.
These multiple systems further increase the security risk of using traditional enterprise content management (ECM). Lack of flexibility is another shortcoming. Organisations want to invest in systems and technology that allow them to grow and adapt to changing markets, but traditional ECM often hinders this progress.
Further, the amount of data these organisations are tasked with storing has increased significantly over the past two years, with 82% of respondents reporting an increase in unstructured data in the form of business content. Traditional ECM systems struggle to cope with this level of growth due to another key shortcoming – their inability to scale. Typically, these solutions are either hampered by being locked into existing architectures, or they are limited and therefore unable to accommodate large storage volumes.
What’s needed to make enterprise content management secure?
So how can organisations effectively address the security issue, plus other challenges outlined above?
While past solutions required months of consolidating content across siloed repositories into one location, this is now unnecessary. Instead, modern enterprises can leverage content services to manage assets across multiple content repositories, whether in the cloud or on-premise, and keep that information in its native form while still making it easily accessible. By providing controlled access and integrating content from any device, anywhere, these solutions can effectively scale to accommodate growing data volumes, while at the same time breaking down the repository walls created by proprietary systems and allowing content to be stored in public and private clouds, on-premise and hybrid environments for greater flexibility and savings.
At the same time, however, enterprises need to be aware that the regulatory environment is becoming more complex, and its dynamic nature means processes must be put in place to effectively ensure compliance and business success.
To survive and thrive in the future, businesses must learn how to balance mobility and workflow with regulations and multiple environments. With a flexible content solution, modern enterprises can get accurate information on every device while staying within the growing demands of regulation.
To help businesses move beyond constraints inherent in traditional ECM systems, here’s a four-point checklist:
1. Recognise that technologies alone do not solve the problem of getting content into the right hands when making business decisions. Today’s content solutions connect people with the business and content they need to make decisions and collaborate with customers and colleagues. This approach leads to faster response times and better-informed decisions.
2. Look for purpose-built, decoupled content services architectures. Build your content services infrastructure for a mobile-first workforce and look for platforms that expose specific ECM capabilities as services rather than fully-formed features, so enabling a greater scalability.
3. Seek vendors that deliver transparent, contextual access to the content, eliminating the need for the user to know where the asset is stored, to give the business greater flexibility to choose the most cost-effective location. Content should be delivered to the users’ workflow through an intuitive process, offering options through a policy controlled “learning” process.
4. When reviewing content services architectures, look for those that have granular policy management services to provide content with contextual meaning as well as how it should be governed. This typically will include details of when the content should be deleted, when it is meant to be archived, and other information that is often critical to businesses needing to effectively govern content. This kind of rules-based policy foundation approach to content management is becoming more powerful in a world where regulatory pressures are constant, and the need for rigorous compliance and governance is omnipresent.
Cumbersome ECM suites of the past are giving way to flexible content services platforms. This new services approach enables users to attain access to content across on-premise, cloud-based and hybrid environments at any time and from anywhere and also obtain enhanced visibility across their disparate systems.