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The next step in the enterprise content management evolution

20 Oct 2017

In Asia Pacific and around the world, content is one of the most valuable commodities that any business owns today.

It’s the key driver of customer interactions; the crucial foundation of core business processes, and it helps shape senior-level decision-making.

Yet, as the variety and provenance of content continues to expand, it presents as much a challenge as an opportunity to the enterprise.

Document volumes are growing exponentially, yet users are demanding simplicity and ease of use. These are among the key content management issues facing Asian enterprises today. 

Businesses increasingly recognise the urgent need to digitalise their data, in order to improve and speed up decision-making, meet more stringent audit and compliance requirements and reduce the cost of physical storage space. 

Unfortunately, managing these issues is often made more difficult by the unwieldy legacy solutions they use.

The traditional approach to enterprise content management (ECM) no longer works effectively in practice. The reality is many enterprises are using multiple systems – ranging from 40 year-old mainframes to the cloud - to store all of their content.

Three key areas where traditional ECM is failing

A recent ASG-commissioned technology adoption profile study, “Today’s Enterprise Content Demands a Modern Approach” conducted by Forrester Consulting found 95% were using more than one system to manage enterprise content, including 31% that were using five or more systems.

These traditional legacy environments with their duplicatedsystems are cumbersome and unwieldy, making information disjointed, hard to access and complicated to use. Lack of flexibility is therefore one clear shortcoming of existing approaches to ECM.

Organisations want to be able to use their content to help them adapt fast to changing markets, but traditional ECM systems often hindertheir 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, like office documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and rich media. 

They also have to manage a great deal of transactional content originating from outside the organisation, like applications, claims, contracts, and forms.

Traditional ECM systems typically 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.

Most traditional ECM solutions also struggle to manage growing regulatory and security requirements. 

As the study highlights:

“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.”

In line with this, the top two content management challenges for organisations identified in the study are ‘providing secure content access to our extended enterprise,’ and ‘meeting expanding regulatory and compliance demands.’

What’s needed from a solution

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 cost savings.

At the same time, however, they need to be aware that the regulatory environment is becoming ever 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.

Flexible deployment of content services can support legacy systems. With a flexible content solution, modern enterprises can get accurate information on every device while complying with the growing demands of regulation.

Practical answers

At ASG Technologies, we recommend a four-pronged approach.

  • Recognise that technologies alone do not solve the problem of getting content into the right hands when organisations are making business decisions. Today’s content solutions connect people with the business and content they need to make decisions, disseminate knowledge and collaborate with customers and colleagues.
  • Look for purpose-built, decoupled content services architectures, such as ASG’s Mobius, to manage content.  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.
  • Seek vendors that deliver transparent, contextual access. Content should be delivered to the users’ workflow through an intuitive process offering options through a policy controlled “learning” process;
  • 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 rules-based policy foundation approach to content management is becoming more powerful in a world where regulatory and compliance pressures are constant.

Positive prospects

The cumbersome ECM suites of the past are giving way to flexible content services platforms. 

These enable 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.

In the modern business world, it will be those businesses that take the plunge and adopt the latest modern content management approaches that derive the most value from the content and use it most successfully to achieve improved decision-making capabilities; enhance customer relationships and drive competitive edge.

Article by Praveen Kumar, general manager, Asia Pacific, ASG Technologies

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