In the last few years, the nature of content in the workplace, and therefore enterprise content management, has transformed in several powerful and important ways. 

The very definition of “content” has migrated away from traditional documents to include more rich formats such as video and audio, in addition to email and social channels. Much of this content is created by an increasingly mobile workforce across a host of connected devices.

For example, anyone with an iPhone can create a training video, and the broad adoption of YouTube and other video sharing sites has shifted user expectations to the point that even something fairly homegrown and “low-fi” is acceptable and can have significant business impact. 

With Abundance, A Challenge

But this explosion of rich content in varying formats across devices and environments has created one of the largest content management challenges to date: how can organizations manage, secure and extract value from this disparate ocean of data in a global landscape?

In most medium and large organizations, content is housed in siloed systems that do not play well together, so it remains difficult to get a single view of information across an enterprise. And increasingly, workers use consumer-grade file sharing sites when files get too large. While they like this convenience, consumer grade file sharing sites offer limited security, control and visibility, which exposes the organization to substantial unwanted risks.

Today’s employees are used to the immediacy and simplicity of social channels, intuitive apps and consumer devices like tablets and smart phones. The challenge for organizations today is to offer users the convenience and ease of use of so called consumer web services, while not compromising on enterprise security and governance requirements.

Any manager reading media reports about password breaches and lost data is aware of the significance and challenges of managing information in a secure manner.

The Enterprise Catches Up


The good news is, the industry is catching up to these challenges and providing solutions that marry the convenience of consumer web services with the security and visibility of enterprise software. What analysts are starting to call "the hybrid cloud" is an emerging environment that extends existing enterprise content management systems with secure, auditable and mobile-enabled cloud collaboration and storage.

The hybrid cloud enables content from internal Enterprise CMSs to be shared externally via the cloud, but maintains a single audit trail and security model that ensures the organization visibility and enhanced control over content being shared.

With a hybrid cloud environment, employees win because they have file sharing capabilities that behave in ways they are familiar and comfortable with. Corporate managers win because they have a way to manage content in a secure, enterprise grade system and the cloud with the same security model and unified visibility into all actions on that content whether in the cloud or enterprise system. Files shared in the cloud can even be set to expire, to ensure that content is not left beyond its useful sharing life.

For example, a pricing guide that needs to be updated every quarter can be set to automatically expire and become inaccessible at the end of the quarter. With secure cloud sharing as part of an enterprise content management system, employees move seamlessly between internal and external collaboration while the system provides security and visibility.

The hybrid cloud enables companies to address the working preferences of their employees while addressing security, accountability and compliance. For enterprises the need to share files securely no longer has to be a choice between convenience and security -- secure file sharing should be a feature and extension of your internal Enterprise CMS.

Mobility and secure file sharing is only one example of how the so called consumerization of the enterprise is creating new challenges -- and opportunities -- for Enterprise Content Management. Looking forward, we see consumerization in the form of “social” ECM interfaces that combine people and content in ways that enable easier knowledge and expert discovery and sharing will start to be more common in the industry. The employees have spoken and now the industry is starting to pay attention.

Image courtesy of Feng Yu (Shutterstock)