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How to choose the best cloud content management solutions

In our previous blog, we discussed the reasons that companies are moving to cloud-based content management solutions . In this blog, we’ll cover the features and capabilities that you should look for when selecting a cloud content management platform.

Let’s start with a little fresh perspective on the question “what is cloud content management?”. With the focus of traditional Enterprise Content Management (ECM) being on the technicalities of managing enterprise content, the focus of cloud-based content management systems expands on that to include the use cases of how that content can be applied to your business processes.

We’ve heard a great deal about “big data” but less so about “big content”. Yet the business value contained within the vast amounts of enterprise content that you’re creating each day is every bit as great—if not greater—than the value in your data. Both big data and big content face the same challenge: there’s so much of it that making it accessible and available, while providing comprehensive governance, is difficult.

Where traditional ECM created central repositories for content and imposed extra labor on users to tag and categorize content, the new generation of cloud content management software reverses the paradigm to make content automatically available when and where the user needs it. This doesn’t mean there isn’t central control of content. It means that microservices known as content services play a lead role in identifying, classifying and distributing content to the people and processes that need.

Cloud content services are delivered as an integrated content management product suite or as separate applications sharing common APIs and repositories. These content services can handle any type of content and any type of device. However, their strength lies in their ability to be customized to any business use case and delivered directly into the business applications your employees are using. In this way, cloud content management breaks down the information silos and eases the content management burden of staff while dramatically increasing the accessibility and value of enterprise content.

Let’s take a look at maintenance operations as an example. In the past, a maintenance engineer would open up his machine in the morning to see the work orders in place. For any repair, the engineer may have to access many different systems to retrieve all the information they need to do their job. Not only is this process time consuming, it’s also loaded with potential for errors. Often the engineer will not know if they are working on the correct, up-to-date and accurate version of a document.

It’s a very different scenario when the organization has deployed a cloud content management system. Now the engineer goes to their own customized dashboard that displays all their jobs. The latest, most accurate information they need for each job is easily accessible through the dashboard. They can quickly see if they have all the information they need and they are dealing with the correct content. Maintenance operations become faster and more efficient resulting in faster throughput and production. With the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) estimating that maintenance can account for up to 70% of the costs of goods sold, the benefits of cloud-based content management become clear.

So, what should you look for in a cloud content management platform?

Understanding the types of cloud content management

Not so fast! You need to start by understanding that there are degrees of cloud content management. At the bottom end there are simple file sharing services—such as Dropbox—that offer little in the way of enterprise functionality or governance. In the mid-range, there are tools to enable web, mobile and omni-channel communications. You can think of these as feature-rich extensions of the content management systems (CMS) used to develop your web presence not so long ago. At the top end, and the focus for this blog, is what you could think of as cloud-based enterprise content management. These are the solutions designed to unlock the value in all the content within your organization—and often beyond. The features of this type of cloud content management solution are much more integrated with your business processes to help automate the process and ensure information flows when and where it’s needed. Today, most organizations look to a cloud content management platform—such as OpenText Extended ECM Platform or OpenText Documentum—to provide these capabilities.

The key capabilities of cloud content management

Any management system of enterprise content should be able to collect, store, manage, deliver and govern information throughout every step in the digital content lifecycle. However, there are a number of features beyond basic content management that are important when you select a cloud content management platform. These include:

Content usability

A cloud content management platform should make information securely available at any time, at any place and on any device. But accessibility is just one of the usability features that you should look for. Just as important is the ability of your platform to help customize and personalize the user experience. It’s not just when and where but how the content is delivered. The biggest innovation surrounding content services technology is the fact that content now becomes a natural part of the employee’s workflow. They don’t go searching for the information they need; it should be instantly available to them.

Process integration and automation

The key to cloud content services is the capability to bring process and content together. Previously, employees had to physically spend time searching and retrieving the content they required. Now, that content is available to them quickly and efficiently. The result is that the cloud content management platform can help to remove many of the manual steps in a process to drive automation and productivity improvements in content-centric business processes.

Information security and data protection

The cloud content management platform must provide deeply embedded, automated and intelligent information governance, security and privacy controls. With the rise of GPDR and new data protection regulations worldwide, your platform will need to be able to identify and manage content wherever it’s created, stored and used. In truth, only a cloud-based service from a large cloud content management provider is likely to be able to handle the localization of data storage needed for a large company to comply with global security and data privacy regulations.

Flexibility and scalability

It’s not just the amount of content that’s growing, so is the number of content sources. It has been a long time since we could control business behind the corporate firewall. It’s essential for virtually every business to share information with its trading partners and customers as well as use content sources such as social media to understand customer sentiment and demand signals. The cloud-based content management solution you select must be able to seamlessly support and integrate with the widest range of data sources. In addition, it needs the virtually limitless scalability of cloud to meet the information demands of your staff and your trading partner community.

Content intelligence

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, including machine learning (ML) and deep neural networks, have enabled innovations for classification, productivity and automation scenarios. The best cloud content management platforms incorporate AI for automation with native machine learning tools that help both IT and your staff automate the indexing and recovery of content. This not only makes content more manageable, it ensures that any content can be quickly surfaced when required, regardless of where it’s stored.

Containerized delivery

The foundation of the new generation of lightweight content services is a combination of microservices and containerization. Microservices breaks down the monolithic content management solutions of the past into smaller components and functions. Containerization allows these to be packaged into ‘standalone’ applications that can be deployed quickly in any combination and in any IT environment. When selecting a cloud-based content management solution, it is extremely advantageous to select one that’s built around containerized content services as this will ensure that you can easily inject content into the widest range of applications across the widest range of platforms, including both public and private clouds.

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Alison Clarke

Alison is Director, Product Marketing for OpenText Content Suite and Extended ECM. Alison and her team are passionate about helping organizations use content services technologies to distill more value from information, supporting the needs of individuals and teams to improve productivity and strengthen information governance for the organization with content services-enabled solutions.

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