Skip to main content

Overcoming challenges to digital transformation and content strategy

man working from home using a mobile phone
(Image credit: Getty)

Over the past two decades, IT professionals have been busy advancing their organization’s digital transformation goals. When the pandemic struck, the pace of these advancements accelerated. 

Suddenly, every single challenge had to be addressed by digital transformation—they were the only solutions still feasible and safe to implement. And with only a short period of time to respond to the total disruption, organizations had to act quickly.

This rapid acceleration during the shift to remote environments reshaped digital transformation priorities and challenges. Now, remote and hybrid work models have proven successful and delivered significant benefits (such as enabling companies to expand their talent pools), which is why the UK government is proposing to give all employees the right to request flexible working when they start new jobs. 

But with so many employees permanently remote or choosing a hybrid work model, the newest obstacle to digital transformation is the increasing content sprawl companies are experiencing, and how they can manage their digital content safely and efficiently.

What is content sprawl?

Content sprawl occurs when organizations enable users to create, duplicate and leverage unmanaged content to support their daily activities.

Digital content assets have increased, creating an unwieldy mass of information that is difficult to manage. Content sprawl makes it challenging for end users to find what they need, and increases the risk that information is stored in unsecure locations, which is especially concerning with governments continually evolving privacy regulations.

Organizations must overcome content sprawl challenges that negatively impact productivity and increase compliance risks by updating their content management and governance strategies to keep pace with their other digital transformation efforts. 

As organizations explore how they integrate, migrate or sunset content in their operations, one obstacle decision-makers encounter is in how to incorporate unstructured data into their applications. Dispersed workforces need this information to be available and accessible to employees, customers, partners and systems across many access points, such as Microsoft products.

Most organizations have content spread across shared drives, email, collaborative tools, VPNs and more locations. In attempting to manage this content sprawl, organizations are facing these key obstacles:

1. Migrating to the cloud

Content storage has changed to support organizations’ work-from-home infrastructure and the drive to lower operational costs. Companies are now reporting greater adoption of cloud solutions. According to Gartner, worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow 26.7% in 2021 as CIOs and IT leaders continue to adopt cloud-delivered applications, such as software as a service (SaaS).

Leveraging the cloud provides a more cost effective and flexible means for organizations to make content accessible. However, without effective content governance, storage in the cloud simply adds to content sprawl challenges, which is why 69% of organizations are expressing a concern over security risks introduced by employees working from home.

Successful, risk-free cloud migration must begin with understanding the breadth and depth of an organization’s data landscape. IT leaders need to know how data is exchanged and altered on both cloud and on-premises storage to foresee how cloud migration will impact applications and systems. Embracing a change analysis process that automates discovery of how data is generated, stored and used across the enterprise can address this challenge.

2. Lack of information governance

Current information governance processes are insufficient in light of growing content sprawl. While organizations are attempting to identify, encrypt and monitor access to all sensitive information, in an ideal world, companies should be completely confident that their governance provides effective oversight of how information is classified and managed. 

Companies need to be sure that their content strategy is improving productivity and adhering to internal policies and external regulatory requirements. For instance, the identification and protection of personally identifiable information (PII) across geographic regions is of particular importance, especially considering the increasing regulatory emphasis around the world (such as in China, the US, and the EU).

Organizations need open, flexible and scalable architecture to manage large volumes of content. Content management solutions should automate the information governance process to securely manage the lifecycle of enterprise content and govern who can access, view and modify information. Users must be able to comply with corporate governance and government regulations while still accessing the content they need. 

The ideal solution establishes policies and procedures for content and sets standards for comprehensive lifecycle management to streamline processing and response times while ensuring regulatory compliance.

3. Neglecting the employee experience

Organizations that are addressing content sprawl during their digital transformation efforts must consider the impacts on employees and take advantage of the opportunity to improve user experiences. 

A central goal of any content strategy should be to enable people to do their jobs, access services and accomplish tasks more efficiently while mitigating risks related to the misuse of information. Remember, improving user experience ultimately results in increased productivity as workflows are streamlined and automated.

To have a people-centric content management strategy, organizations need tools with integrated user interfaces for locating and managing the information they need. Users can gain control and awareness by having a modernized, central point of operations for reporting, searching, viewing and navigating records. 

Without the time consuming and stressful manual processes of managing content, employees will be much more satisfied and productive.

4. Need for automation

Business process automation is top-of-mind for IT leaders as they evolve their digital transformation and content strategies, but it often causes roadblocks in determining what and how to automate. For instance, external approvals and process exceptions are tasks that are normally handled through email and would benefit from automation efforts. With those tasks automated, productivity can increase as employees reallocate their time to more valuable work.

Vendor invoice processing and financial reporting are also significant opportunities for automation. Automatically capturing and systematically processing large volumes of scanned, paper-based financial information is possible with an automated content management solution. With automation alleviating some of the complexity of these processes, businesses will have a simplified path to financial reporting.

Content management is more important than ever to true digital transformation

Today, many enterprises are looking to digital transformation to improve their responsiveness to constant change in economic and regulatory landscapes. At this point, companies must accelerate digital business or risk the success of the organization. 

While they are navigating this increased rate of change, it is important that a robust content management strategy be implemented to address the above challenges so that organizations can access the full benefits of their content assets and mitigate the risk that they can introduce when unmanaged.

Kyle McNabb is the VP of Solution Marketing at Rocket Software. He has over 25 years of experience in customer-focused products and service innovation lifecycles, developing compelling content, and implementing growth strategies. At Rocket, he drives efforts to scale solution and partner marketing to power profitable growth.