The big problem with big content

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Information is the lifeblood of digital business. The right content management strategy leads to improved processes, increased productivity and potentially a huge impact on the bottom line.

On the contrary, ineffective content management strangles revenue and often leads to bad decision making. Vital business information is typically stored in silos and locked away in legacy systems only accessible by a limited number of users through arcane and difficult to use interfaces. Getting into these content systems and repositories is vital for knowledge workers – but the vast majority of organisations simply don’t know how to do it effectively. Furthermore, the ability to combine and analyse content and data from multiple sources becomes extremely challenging, if not impossible, in this environment.

A recent poll from information management membership organisation AIIM highlighted a far from encouraging picture.

They report that the sheer scale and make-up of Big Content challenges has changed, have grown much bigger, and have become far more complex in nature. So much so that many organisations have ended up with little more than ‘digital landfills’ – huge silos of information that just sit there. Whether you want to give this the label ‘information overload’ or ‘Big Content,’ it is obvious that new approaches are needed to deal with this escalating situation before it reaches a crisis point.

Initially, some had the unrealistic vision that enterprise content management (ECM) systems would be the silver bullet for this problem, and that all the information in an organisation should sit neatly within a single ECM repository. In fact, the opposite has occurred, and ECM deployments have multiplied in organisations. Nearly a third of organisations surveyed by AIIM say they have wound up with between 2 and 4 systems. If you include cloud file shares in this, such as Dropbox, you’ve got a complex vista miles away from the unrealistic dream of just one content repository.

A legion of applications

Next, you need to consider the multiple applications that most organisations use on a daily basis – in-house developed, line of business applications, and cloud-based systems. The lack of connection between these systems and ECM solutions leads to a situation where  information remains within the application, creating silos and compounding the situation. Given this fact, it is little surprise therefore that 61 per cent of respondents admitted they still store business data in spreadsheets, at least ensuring they can access it quickly, while over 62 per cent said it was difficult sharing information with colleagues, partners, and suppliers.

At the same time, the volume and velocity of incoming information is growing exponentially. It is estimated that around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day and with the arrival of the internet of things (IoT), this will sky rocket even further. Legacy systems were not designed to deal with such an inflow of content and growing file sizes, accelerated further by the increased use of video, images, and audio. Rich-media challenges that were once unique to the media and entertainment industries now apply to all organisations. And their systems are struggling under the pressure.

Shockingly, three quarters (76 per cent) of the information manager respondents AIIM polled said that they can’t find the data they need to do their job within their business in what would be considered an appropriate time period. In today’s connected world where data is now key to customer insight and an important determinant of competitive advantage, how information assets are managed is critical to the way a business is run. It is also an important part of an organisation’s roadmap moving forward. 

A modern approach

According to AIIM’s survey, 86 per cent of organisations agree that their content management strategies need to be modernised. A key challenge is actually meeting the needs of the organisation as a whole, as opposed to knowledge workers who were the primary users of ECM systems.

Content Services Platforms (CSPs) are emerging as an optimal alternative for organisations – providing processes and applications to deal with the tide of big content that is coming down the pipe. Modern CSPs are mobile, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud-enabled, whilst allowing for new innovations on the horizon such as deep analytics and blockchain.

The contemporary way forward

Getting to grips with the Big Content challenge requires the adoption of a practical, modern approach that encompasses two core actions; connecting and consolidating.

On the connection side, organisations can deploy a simple content services layer to connect all of the various organisational systems to create a central information hub, designed to give organisations a 360 degree view on their information, where it is stored what metadata is held, while also providing access and management capabilities.

This integration is crucial. 38 per cent of respondents to the AIIM survey admitted that their current information systems were “totally insufficient” to deal with “integration with other content and enterprise systems”.

The practical path to handling big content

Consolidating technology is an important factor in getting a handle on Big Content. Legacy ECM systems demand a huge budget just to operate, without taking into consideration the specialist equipment and staff required to run them.

By putting this technology into a more coherent stack, organisations can visualise their information and transfer it to a modern platform at their own pace, slowly sunsetting legacy systems. The result is a scalable, agile, and powerful set of information management tools that can efficiently address the growing data issue.

The stark reality is that the Big Content challenge can’t be solved by legacy systems. It requires a serious re-think, and a modernised information management toolkit. Getting the foundations right will allow organisations to secure real competitive value from their data.

David Jones, Director of Product Marketing, Nuxeo
Image source: Shutterstock/TechnoVectors