Reining in content sprawl: a consultant’s perspective

Guest author, Ryan Zilm, shows how enterprises can combine OpenText™ and Microsoft® solutions to solve their content management and data governance challenges.

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OpenText Content Cloud Team

May 2, 20244 minute read


Today’s businesses run on data. It fuels our decision-making, helps us enhance customer experiences, and drives innovation. However, all this data has a big downside: content sprawl. 

Consider a common scenario: a client sends you an important document as an email attachment. You save a copy to your company’s cloud storage platform, another to your desktop for quick reference, and then forward the email to the rest of your team—who do the same thing. Multiply this process daily across hundreds or even thousands of employees, and it’s easy to see how content starts to snowball. 

Sounding the content sprawl alarm 

In my experience, content sprawl is easy to diagnose but hard to cure. Risk management, records management, or compliance teams are usually the first to raise the alarm, as content sprawl makes it increasingly difficult for them to ensure that information security and data governance policies are being applied consistently. Often, it then falls to IT to find a solution. 

For IT, the good news is that there are more tools than ever to address the challenges of content sprawl. I’ve seen first-hand just how effectively collaboration solutions like Microsoft 365 Teams can help enterprises regain control over their data. But deploying a solution like Teams is only one piece of the puzzle. 

Control is crucial for combatting content sprawl 

Throughout my career, I’ve helped many different organizations address their content challenges. For large Fortune 500 companies, I’ve found it’s vital to apply an additional layer of governance and integration on top of solutions like Teams. Without that extra layer of control, it’s all too easy for shadow IT to creep in again. Before you know it, you’re right back at square one. 

OpenText maximizes a customer’s investment in Microsoft with its suite of information management (IM) solutions, allowing businesses to integrate content across Microsoft 365 applications and apply the appropriate business controls and data governance policies automatically. 

For large organizations, this automated approach is essential to cut the risk of content sprawl. With OpenText solutions, businesses can ensure that their data governance requirements are built into the front-end experience. The result? The organization knows what’s out there, who created it, where it’s stored, and information is fast and simple to find—a powerful way to prevent future content sprawl. 

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Ryan Zilm, Global Data Strategist and Former Chairman of the Board, ARMA International, discusses his experiences integrating OpenText™ and Microsoft® solutions to help combat content sprawl and enhance data governance.

From paper to pixels 

In the last decade, the focus for information managers has shifted from physical records to digital data. OpenText has been at the forefront of developing solutions to enable that transformation. As a consultant, it’s incredibly rewarding to help businesses use OpenText solutions to achieve their goals. 

One example that jumps to mind was a business that made photocopies of personally identifiable information (PII) such as driving licenses when admitting visitors to secure areas of its facilities. Over the years, the organization had built up filing cabinets full of manila folders containing these records.  

The company knew that this approach was a significant regulatory risk. So, the organization decided to convert all their paper folders into digital records. Using OpenText Intelligent Viewing, I helped the company to automatically apply the proper retention and disposal policies to their data, while also ensuring that information is immediately and securely accessible to the business. 

Listening and innovating 

Over the years, OpenText has done an amazing job of listening to its customers, understanding their challenges and creating solutions that address them.  

Business Workspaces in OpenText™ Extended ECM are a great example. Using Business Workspaces, I can help businesses avoid the need for their employees to shuffle between different applications to carry out their roles. Without ever leaving the familiar Teams UI, employees can see data from all systems of record—delivering a 360-degree view of key business information. 

Fast forward to the present, and what’s really exciting to me is that OpenText is pioneering the next generation of IM solutions. I see huge potential for AI to transform the way businesses manage and leverage their data, and OpenText is going to be at the forefront of delivering those new capabilities. 

Learn more about OpenText solutions for Microsoft

About the author: Ryan Zilm has over 26 years’ experience in IM technology and has led records and IM programs at global organizations including Baker Hughes, Motiva, USAA, Newfield, Andeavor, Tesoro and Williams. Ryan recently served as President of the ARMA International Board of Directors and currently serves on the Board of Trustees leading the Research Committee for the ARMA International Educational Foundation. He received his MBA from the University of Texas at San Antonio, has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oklahoma, and is based in Houston, Texas. 

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OpenText Content Cloud Team

The OpenText Content Cloud offers a broad and deep suite of content management products, providing end-to-end solutions that help organizations maximize the value and minimize the risk of their information. OpenText Content Services platforms and applications support diverse business and industry needs through extensive integration capabilities, full lifecycle management and intelligent automation.

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