That enterprises have been using ever-growing volumes of content over the past decade is a given. Content is at the heart of digital customer experiences and few successful businesses exist that do not have content front and centre in their strategy.
There is more content in existence than ever before, and industry analyst group IDC has predicted that the volume of data will increase by 61% each year so that by 2025 there will be 175 zettabytes of data in the world. How enterprises manage this data has become increasingly important, a challenge exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic that has meant a majority of the workforce is now working from home, or remotely.
Each employee needs to access and work with enterprise content many times every day, which has led to an upturn in the use of cloud technology for Content Services Platforms (CSP). IDC has forecast that by 2025 49% of the world’s stored data will reside in public cloud environments and it is clear that enterprises will also be using cloud-native ECM solutions in ever-increasing numbers.
The value of content
The importance and value of content should not be under-estimated by any organisation. 2020 research from Nuxeo revealed that more than half of consumers (54%) would switch to a competitor if the digital customer experience did not measure up. This digital experience includes smart personalisation; up-to-date and accurate product information; and meaningful and hi-resolution product photography – all important elements of content.
Furthermore, additional Nuxeo research revealed that UK Financial Services (FS) firms store information and content across multiple systems, many of which are not fully connected. This is having a significant impact on knowledge workers who need to access content as a regular part of their jobs, with the research showing that they are spending almost one hour a day just searching for content because it is not readily discoverable. This is hugely impactful in terms of wasted resources and productivity.
Content is intrinsic to a successful business in 2021, both in terms of creating a good customer experience and improving internal operations, so organisations need to find ways of connecting people to the content they need to do their job effectively. With so many employees working from home because of Covid-19 – and when things eventually return to normal, we will likely see a good number of those continue to do so – connecting people to content grew much harder.
Most enterprises understand that the cloud enables them to innovate faster, modernise ageing infrastructure, scale globally, gain new insights from their information, and create better access to content for employees. But not all cloud-enabled solutions are created equally.
Some journeys to the cloud are short, but these “shortcuts” often offer limited value or do not work at all. Cloud-deployed legacy platforms can run in the cloud, but don’t take advantage of the scalable architecture, making them very expensive and difficult to maintain over time.
There’s a world of difference between ‘the cloud’ and ‘cloud-native’, with the latter a solution or application that has been specifically designed and built with cloud principles in mind. These take greater advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the cloud to maximise focus on driving business value and delivering a better customer experience.
When evaluating content services in the cloud, it is important to consider new architectures and emerging technologies that are simultaneously transforming information management options. Legacy solutions offer much slower innovation, so rather than shifting legacy ECM solutions to the cloud, it is time to consider how CSPs allow users to take greater advantage of cloud-based services including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and automation, offering benefits such as:
Intelligent scaling – some of the most obvious benefits of the cloud are expanded scalability and cost efficiencies. Since most companies pay for cloud usage ‘as they go’, organisations can dramatically reduce the large, up-front hardware investments that limit innovation, while the cloud also positions businesses to scale the operational expenditures up or down, as needed.
But not all cloud-enabled solutions provide this flexibility. Legacy solutions often require businesses to forecast scalability requirements in advance. Cloud-native content services platforms, on the other hand, allow administrators to scale individual services automatically, eliminating the need to reconfigure the entire system or pay for unnecessary compute power or storage.
Secure access and collaboration – cloud solutions are inherently more accessible than traditional, on-premises solutions, a quality that has become valued more with so many people working outside of the office network infrastructure because of the pandemic. It is also important for working with external partners, who rarely have access to corporate networks and internal systems.
While cloud applications may lack the network firewall security provided by multi-step VPN protections, cloud applications frequently include sophisticated user security. Content-centric security in most content services platforms is fine-grained and configurable to meet specific business needs, from viewing documents to changing ownership and the ability to create or delete documents.
Eliminate siloed and duplicate information – another challenge that most businesses face is the proliferation of business applications and document repositories. Nuxeo’s FS research revealed that content was spread on average across nine different systems. This can make searching for and accessing the right information much harder, significantly impacts employee productivity and creates the risk of the wrong information informing decision-making.
By consolidating enterprise information in a federated solution that offers a centralised vision of all the content across the enterprises, much of the confusion created by these silos of information is removed, and search tools can find content irrespective of where it is stored. With a cloud-based, federated solution, end users can quickly reference a ‘single source of the truth’ regardless of the content’s storage location.
Add context to business applications – consolidating business content in a single content management system is not always a panacea to information management challenges. ERP, CRM, and HR systems, for example, often focus on storing data, but related documents are often stored outside of these business applications. While many solutions can manage these related documents, storing this information separate from primary business applications can be problematic.
Many organisations have therefore identified an improved solution: make this information accessible directly within the context of their primary business applications. Users can quickly see the most relevant content without switching applications or creating complex queries. As many of these business-critical applications are cloud-based, cloud-native content services solutions are more easily integrated.
Maximise the value of cloud-based technologies – beyond faster implementations and innovation cycles, there are emerging technologies available as services in the cloud. These new tools augment a content services platform, providing the range of technologies necessary to deliver content-centric business applications. Examples include AI and ML which can manage translation, transcription and sentiment analysis.
Cloud-native CSP vendors can provide specialised tools, including content-aware AI and focused ML to streamline the user experience and automate manual tasks.
Legacy systems designed to manage content in an earlier era do not address today’s needs for agility, global scalability, omnichannel delivery, and automated processing and enrichment. With content services shifting to the cloud in ever-growing numbers, only cloud-native CSPs truly unlock the value of enterprise content.