How Enterprise Content management is Changing as Organizations go Global

November 11, 2011

How Enterprise Content management is Changing as Organizations go Global

Maturing Enterprise Content Management has become a critical success factor in managing information in global organizations.  In many cases, we see organizations who have implemented traditional ECM solutions such as LiveLink, Documentum, Filenet, etc. five to ten years ago.  Many organizations have no such solution and are simply using file shares and email. 

As large enterprises have gone global, the key requirements for any ECM solution have evolved significantly in the following ways.

The Explosion of Content

Content growth is increasing exponentially and the dependence on this content is also radically increasing.  We have enterprise clients where they the volume of content in their repositories is increasing by hundreds of gigabytes per month!  This massive growth in content means that addressing challenges of compliance management, records management, etc. are being taken over by infrastructure challenges, performance challenges and search requirements.

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Enterprise Complexity

Enterprise complexity is also increasing dramatically.   Ten to twenty years ago, most large organizations still followed a formal departmental structure with hierarchical management structures for managing internal employees.  Geographically, most employees managing information were within a “head office”.

In today’s global enterprise, organizations are rapidly changing the model for managing people through outsourcing, global supply chains, partnerships, and offices all over the world.  The “Intranet” and the “Extranet” ten years ago were largely separated but today everyone is a “virtual employee”.  This enterprise complexity means that any ECM program, solution or technology needs to be able to provide the right content to the right people and to ensure that this is done securely across a vast and complex network of extended partnerships, internal employees and geographic locations.

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Integration of Content Management Systems

In many organizations, content management systems, processes and people are organized into siloes:

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The web team runs the intranet, the document management team manages collaboration and the records management team manages the archive.

However, as portal technologies like SharePoint have matured, the opportunity to integrate all these aspects of ECM have increased dramatically.  In addition, with new technologies and paradigms evolving quickly such as mobile, social networking, real time communication, etc. the need to provide a holistic ECM strategy that incorporates all these different aspects of managing content or information becomes critical to allowing users to obtain information from a variety of different repositories and in different contexts.

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Does your ECM program integrate all these types of technologies, tools and processes?

The Need for Modern ECM Strategy

The practice of ECM needs to evolve to address the modern needs of global organizations.  An ECM strategy needs to be more than just a records management or compliance strategy (although these of course are still important aspects) and address the key challenges with today’s global knowledge workers:

  • How do we get access to information anywhere, anytime, any place and on any device??
  • How do we manage access to information when we have outsourced key parts of our business to network of partners?
  • How to enable true global enterprise search?  What does mean in this kind of environment?
  • How do we present an integrated user experience so that end-users can gain access to the right information in context without needing to login into dozens of different repositories across the enterprise? 
  • How do we balance the need to empower knowledge workers to manage their own information while still ensuring compliance, maintaining standards and allow for information to re-used as a corporate asset?
  • How do we create a rich taxonomy that can help searching while not over-burdening users with long forms to fill out, arduous document control processes, etc.?

If your organization has an ECM solution that is five to ten years old, you may find that the assumptions that were in place at the time no longer reflect the real needs of the organization. 

For example, one basic assumption we find is a very strong division between internal and external employees.  This assumption fundamentally impedes the ability for the extended enterprise to function as a set of integrated virtual employees.  The external partner ends up requiring weeks to be provisioned, has very limited access to content and teams made up of internal and external employees cannot effectively collaborate together because the external employees are simply stopped at the security perimeter.

Another example is the distinction between document and records management.  In many organizations we see the build up of records management systems, tools and teams for ensuring the compliance of information storage but they are separated from the collaboration process.  This makes search more difficult, it means the transition from collaboration to records management is complex and in many cases the RM team doesn’t get all the information (emails, files in file shares, etc.) because moving content into the archive is too manual, the amount of content is too vast and its not a priority for the average knowledge worker trying to simply do their job.

It may be time to look at your overall information management strategy and review whether the tools, technologies, processes and people in place are meeting the needs of your organization now and as you expand globally.  If your ECM processes, tools and teams were put in place five to ten years ago, they may be not responsive enough for today’s enterprise needs.

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