Success Means Back to Basics for Content Management

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It's a crazy world in content management these days. The dying term "enterprise content management" lives on out of sheer momentum. Information governance is on the rise. The cloud is making everyone reconsider their basic understanding of how they build and deliver business solutions. Mobile devices have returned IT departments to the manic days of early laptops. And the Internet of Things threatens to overwhelm IT before they finish tackling mobile.

Established vendors scramble to look relevant and innovative in the midst of the chaos, while new vendors strive to poach the most dissatisfied customers. Roadmap discussions share features that are two years too late or are subject to immediate change because the technology is shifting too fast.

It is a crazy world and as a consultant it is a heady time. Organizations need help cutting through the chaos to focus on what's important and what they need to do right now. In the last year I have not led with the cloud, information governance, mobile, social or analytics. I've led with one simple thing -- let’s solve today’s problem and build on that success.

Automate or Die

One thing sticks out when looking across the wide world of information governance. People are tired of being thrust into the role of records manager. Even most of the records managers I know are tired of the role. There is too much to know and too many things to do that interrupt the flow of the day-to-day business. Automation has been a key goal for decades, but aside from high volume processing it has been the exception rather than the rule.

Auto-classification tools are advancing rapidly for declaring records. Microsoft showed its faith in the technology with its Equivio buy. OpenText is pushing the technology into email, sharing stories from the US Federal space with its at times staggering volume of email. Even the cloud vendors are jumping on board: Box announced plans to have auto-classification in its platform this year.

Even scanning projects have evolved. Clients have asked me to digitize their paper records to help them move into the 21st century. After one look at their process I told them that without integration between their content management system and the front-office system that references all the content, they are simply removing exercise from their staff’s life. Staff will still have to switch from their primary business application to the CMS to search and access the documents. The difference is that they won’t be able to refill their coffee cup on the way to the old file room.

When companies automate the burden of managing content and people can focus on working with content, success happens. I’ve sat in too many project autopsies to believe otherwise.

Keep It Simple

Everything cannot be automated. When people click “Save” in Excel or Word the files are not automatically stored and classified in a CMS. Extra steps are required to upload it through a web application.

Actually no, not anymore. That was last decade. People are returning to the world where hitting Save puts the document where you want it.

That’s right, returning. In the 90s every document management system had integrations into the Microsoft Office suite through the desktop application. The Open Document Management API (ODMA) standard was developed to remove the need for macros. As long as the odma32.dll file was in the system path, it worked. ODMA was the guardian of the business and compliance in the 90s. Before the dark times. Before the web.

It took mobile to remind us of the power of native applications. Now document management applications have returned to our desktops to synchronize our content. They are doing what people have either refused or didn’t have time to do -- store content in a CMS. People are doing this not because they know it needs to be done. They are doing it because it requires minimal effort and in return they can access their content on all of their devices and share it with others.

Moving Forward

It does not matter your content is on-premises or in the cloud. It doesn't matter if you have a great mobile application or if you have a well thought-out retention policy. None of it matters if the deployed solution makes it harder for people to do their jobs.

After all, wasn't helping the people do their jobs the point of going digital in the first place?

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