The first versions of content management were all about control and risk minimization. They primarily revolved around the needs of records management and legal departments. Little thought was put into the experience of the knowledge workers who created and filed the actual content. These platforms didn’t aid in productivity or efficiency. They required extra labor, and, as a result, users often found ways not to use them.
Times have changed. A new generation of content services platforms and applications are based on the concept that information has ongoing use and value in workflows and processes. Content and data need to be readily available to drive a dynamic enterprise, not languish in isolated silos and vaults.
These changing business needs have inspired content services applications that enable seamless storage, retrieval and distribution of information—while still ensuring governance best practices are applied. Automation and AI have replaced manual filing and searching. The end-user experience is now effortless and unobtrusive. Content and data can be automatically captured and surfaced where needed with no manual intervention. User adoption is no longer an issue.
Cloud content management definition
The next logical step in this progression involves moving these applications and the information they manage into a cloud content management environment for even greater agility, access and cost control.
Cloud computing is really a “no brainer” for business. It increases business agility and flexibility. It improves performance, efficiency, scalability and security. It allows organizations to work better with customers, partners and suppliers. All this and it can save a huge amount of money compared to the traditional, on-premise IT infrastructure.
Little surprise then that cloud computing is virtually ubiquitous within organizational operations now. Estimates suggest that 94% of enterprises already use the cloud in some form and that over 80% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2022. Organizations are keen to exploit the speed, flexibility and ease of deployment and management of cloud services—with over half of enterprises spending more than $1 million annually to build out their infrastructure. IDC suggests that spending on cloud services will reach nearly $500 billion by 2023.
For content management vendors such as OpenText, it makes sense to make our solutions available as a cloud service. A cloud-based content management system offers our customers more capabilities and benefits, with less organizational disruption and cost.
Cloud content services dramatically simplify and accelerate one of the foundational concepts of content services applications—the ability to integrate with the lead applications that drive business processes (think SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce, etc.) and connect them to the central content management platform. Integration allows corporate governance policies to be automatically applied to previously isolated information as soon as it’s captured or created. It creates a bridge that allows siloed information to flow to processes and people that can use it.
As organizations reach a new level of information sprawl with more systems and applications than ever before, a cloud-native content management solution facilitates the interoperability process and breaks down the barriers between information silos.
Organizations are faced with unprecedented information sprawl. Content and data are everywhere in the digital enterprise. New sources, types and volumes of information are flooding into, and out of, organizations, often with little or no governance. Specialized applications and processes are creating their own unique data pools, while retired legacy software still houses huge volumes of content that may, or may not, have value or risk.
The events of 2020 exacerbated the situation, seeing an unprecedented surge in the popularity of apps for creating, storing, sharing and collaborating on information from remote locations. The aptly named “Teams sprawl” is a slight variation coined to summarize this point and time.
Content services applications are purpose-built to solve this issue through integration with the systems and processes producing this content and data. Lifecycle management best practices can be applied, governance can be enforced, and information can be made available to others in the organization that may benefit from it.
Cloud content management systems make it even easier to counter this sprawl. Out-of-the-box and customized solutions can be quickly implemented, offering scalability, performance and security through connections to a centralized content platform.
Cloud-based content management is also the clear choice when one considers that every organization has different degrees of sprawl—and different paths to the cloud. It is not always possible for enterprises to move all content to the cloud for legal, privacy or regulatory reasons. In fact, for most organizations, a hybrid approach to corralling information sprawl is the foreseeable future. Some information and systems may be kept on-premise and some moved to the cloud. Different types of cloud will even be used; private, public and hyperscalers like Google, AWS and Microsoft Azure.
Adopting a hybrid architecture allows organizations to take a phased approach to moving content and processes to the cloud. Cloud-based content services are agile and flexible enough to easily adapt to any infrastructure, allowing enterprises to move at their own pace. As research from Forrester suggests, hybrid cloud content management solutions are an excellent transitional step, offering many of the same advantages in productivity, security and customer satisfaction as full cloud adoption.
So far, so good? As we say, this is technology so it’s not quite that simple. First, not all cloud content management software is created equal. We have to distinguish between basic cloud content management and cloud enterprise content management.
The first category, cloud content management, could be as simple as file sharing services such as Dropbox. They’re generally limited in purpose, consumerized and lack the integration and security features of more full-bodied systems.
The second category is based solely on the needs of the enterprise. These solutions include all the performance, management, security, compliance and business continuity functionality that’s required to meet the requirements of multi-layered, multi-functional organizations.
This may sound a little like splitting hairs, but it’s not. Organizations are realizing that the former is no longer enough to meet today’s requirements for stability, compliance and privacy. As a result, the niche cloud content management market is forecast to shrink slightly, while the market for full-scale enterprise content management is expected to grow to $43.6 billion by 2026.
The capabilities of a cloud content management platform
As we’ve seen, enterprise-level cloud content management is a combination of centralized, cloud-native content services with advanced security and governance. This is all built around an enterprise cloud content management platform that can integrate a wide range of content services seamlessly together. These capabilities, according to Gartner, can include:
The cloud content management platform has to deliver a customized and personalized user experience with embedded mobility and consistency across devices. The user shouldn’t have to go looking for the information but find it displayed within a single dashboard or embedded within their primary application.
The ability of a cloud-based platform to scale rapidly up and down to meet the demands of your workforce and extended ecosystem of partners, suppliers and customers.
The cloud content management platform must provide deeply embedded, flexible and intelligent information governance, security and privacy controls to meet current and future security and regulatory requirements.
Fast time to value
Gartner believes that the Content Services Platform should deliver the ability to generate business value quickly, citing the availability of prebuilt applications and citizen-developer-based tools that speed delivery of focused solutions designed to address specific concerns within an organization.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, including machine learning (ML) and deep neural networks, have driven innovations within classification, productivity and automation scenarios. The best cloud content management platforms include the embedded intelligence to enable the automation and optimization of content-driven business processes.
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 on any IT environment. A container comprises everything needed to operate the app within it in any infrastructure. Although they are cloud-native, they are adaptable to any on-premise, cloud, mobile or hybrid deployment. It simplifies the process of software updates as well as enables one container to be taken offline without affecting the operation of others or the overall system.
What are the benefits of cloud content management?
There are many benefits of a cloud-native content management system for both enterprises and the users working within them, helping to accelerate digital transformation efforts with more flexible implementation options.
From an enterprise perspective, cloud-based content management is the only viable path to a future based on:
- Identifying and extracting the most value from content and data
- Managing and controlling the explosive growth of information and avoiding isolated silos
- Ensuring efficient, seamless access to information for sharing and collaborating across the organization and the external ecosystem of vendors, partners and customers
- Achieving the flexibility and agility to meet ever-changing privacy, compliance and security issues
Users, of course, are more task or goal focused. For them, cloud-based content management offers a number of more tactical benefits:
- Easily and quickly connecting with the most accurate information, wherever they are
- Automating and accelerating the classification and filing of newly created content
- Eliminating the need to jump from system to system to access the information they need to do their jobs
- Smoothing the collaborative flow across functional groups by ensuring everyone has access to the most recent documents and the most current data
While the majority of content today is still stored on-premise, the Forrester research found that, across the board, there are significant benefits to managing it through a cloud content management platform.
Why do you need cloud content management solutions?
Digital transformation is now a key business strategy for every enterprise. However, many companies have struggled to achieve the expected benefits from their transformation programs. Deploying innovative, new digital technologies offers huge potential, but it’s not the technology that delivers this potential. In fact, it’s not even the information that the technology manages.
The ultimate benefit comes from being able to quickly harness that usable information so it can power the business and drive decision making.
Achieving this requires effective content management to extract maximum value from all information, minimize risk and make it available to the processes and people who can use it. With the massive explosion in the volume and variety of data, the cloud becomes the only practical and cost-effective option to deploy your content management platform.
To find out more about cloud content management solutions from OpenText, visit our website.