Last April, San Francisco-based Box reported mixed fortunes at the end of its fourth quarter. There was nothing unusual about the figures, but the earnings call that the company gave to analysts and investors underline two important things for the future of the company. The first was the often-repeated mantra that Box has evolved way beyond its origins as a file sharing service through the cloud. The second thing it stressed was that it would continue to offer its services as a cloud content management provider.

What Is Cloud Content Management

There is nothing unusual about this. Box has been beating the content management drum for years and has been adding functionality at a staggering pace. Only recently, for example, it announced the release of Box Shield as well as extended integrations with Adobe, Splunk, IBM, Slack and Microsoft.

However, going back to the earnings call, CEO Aron Levie outlined what he saw as the main capabilities for cloud content management. Cloud content management should offer:

  • A single source of truth for content, integrated across best-of-breed apps.
  • Seamless and secure internal and external collaboration.
  • Automated business workflows across the extended enterprise.
  • Advanced ML/AI technologies from all major vendors.
  • Security and compliance for every industry and geography without sacrificing simplicity.

There is clearly a lot more to it than that, but this is a good start. Cloud Content Management (CCM) is the combination of centralized, cloud-native content services with advanced security and governance. Put more simply: CCM is an easy and secure way for all of your teams to work together. With Cloud Content Management, manual processes become digital and automated.

On principal and as a result, workers shouldn’t have to spend hours each day or week hunting for information. Collaboration across the entire extended enterprise becomes seamless while with the more modern systems, machine learning technologies help you maximize the value of every piece of content you have. The dream: no more siloed content, no more searching for information. Is this what it’s all about?

Related Article: Breaking Through the Content Management Cloud Cover

The Advantages the Cloud Brings

Garry Brownrigg is CEO and founder of Canada-based QuickSilk, a content management system provider. He points out that cloud content management are, even at a very basic contractual level, different from on-premises systems, which are often difficult to connect to existing technologies.“While some providers offer cloud-native platforms; others integrate cloud services into existing or legacy products, tools, and software as add-on services to a larger overall platform,” he said.

Services offered under a CCM platform may include document management, web content management, web hosting and technical support. A CCM should be able to collect, store, govern, manage and deliver information throughout the digital content lifecycle with associated automated processes for text, images, video, audio or other multimedia. Managing content in the cloud facilitates individual and team collaboration with version control and content that is accessible across multiple devices. A fully managed and supported CCM will reduce an organization's attack surface, improve productivity and offload and reduce support costs.

Of course, from a functional that the main difference between cloud content management and manual processes is that a cloud CMS is accessible at any time, at any place and on any device, Sergey Golubenko, head of the SharePoint department in ScienceSoft, an IT consulting and custom software development company, said.  It allows several users to work on content at the same time and such features as versioning and access control help to maintain content security and regulatory compliance. “Many modern CMS systems are integrated with AI and machine learning. Such CMS systems offer personalization of content, which helps to bring relevant content to relevant people. For example, they display regional news to users depending on their location,” he said.

San Francisco-based Alex Lam is vice president and head of the Fujitsu North America Strategy Office. As such he is responsible for identifying emerging technology companies, solutions, and trends in the US market

He pointed out that CCMs need to be multi-cloud, in order to seamlessly support and integrate data sources that reside in multiple cloud repositories (across public and private).

He also believes they should incorporate more AI for automation with native deep learning tools that can help both admins and end-users to automate indexing/recovery of content based on metadata parameters and image identifiers “CCM solutions that also natively incorporate document and media creation software apps will have a leg up on the competition, as this helps to dramatically streamline content development workflows (e.g., Adobe Cloud),” he added

Learning Opportunities

With the rise of GDPR and with data privacy protections, the CMS will need to have a high “locality” aspect that enables it to properly identify content and to manage or  secure it with geo-secure policies and procedures.

This is also likely to evolve in the coming months and year with the pending roll out of 5G, the mobile aspect of the CCM platform will be crucial, and not just a nice to have extension feature that it is today. The majority of the content will be created and consumed at the Edge, and the CCM will need to properly interface with this new IT design paradigm.

And the future? Lam argues that the consumption of content today is mainly through a 2-D interface (TV screen, laptop screen, mobile screen). Combined with the edge IoT effect, he believes there will be great opportunities for content to move to a more 3-D form of communication mainly through incorporation of more augmented reality (AR) at the edge and to some extent a more targeted set of virtual reality (VR) use cases. CCM platform will need to properly support these new technologies.

Related Article: The Cloud and Content Management: A Snapshot and a Look Ahead

CCM Systems Evolve

What we are seeing in the marketplace is an increase in the number of data silos in enterprises because of the advent and popularity of cloud-native productivity apps from different vendors, Venkat Ramasamy, COO of Austin-based FileCloud, said.

A cloud content management system should be able to integrate with many such apps to become a system of record for enterprise content,” he said. “Not only that, in many enterprises a significant amount of content stays (outside the preview of CCM) in user PCs, emails, file servers and on-premises storage systems.

Hybrid cloud approach of bringing these on-premises content to cloud content management systems (Egnyte and FileCloud are offering this currently) will help to bridge the gap and maximize the user productivity.

A content management system should allow for simultaneously allowing creation complexity while reducing management complexity.  With so many technologies to manage, the reality is that best CMSs do that through the cloud by adapting to the style of each organization while maintaining data and goal integrity between the entire team across the organization.